April 2016  stuff.co.nz

Those who think you must be born hearing to have rhythm have never seen Macy Baez dance.  Her moves are as soulful, expressive and energetic as any young dancer with a passion for the craft.  But beneath her bandanna, cochlear implants are a sign she's had to overcome more than the competition to become one of Australia's most promising hip hop dancers. 

Macy

The 15-year-old from New South Wales was born profoundly deaf, but hasn't let this stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a professional dancer. "When I go to Sydney to battle I always have like a jam... where we all just dance together, learning new things from different people, we don't really judge each other, we just judge on the dance, not the person."  Macy is the face of Sony's new Extra Bass wireless speaker, appearing in a series of videos which showcase her talent, honed since she began dance lessons as an eight-year-old. She was inspired by artists such as Michael Jackson. 

"I always look back, how he deals with the music, and how he dances to it. That's what really made me want to dance.” Hip hop is like having another language by which to communicate, she says. "It feels like you can do anything."

Josh Fountain from Auckland's Level Two Music composed a hip hop-electro track with extra strong bass specifically for Macy, who, despite her cochlear implants, relies on the vibrations in a piece music to dance.  "When I listen to music, I feel the vibration from the speaker to the floor and that vibration from the floor goes to my feet," she explains. 

Macy received her first cochlear implant in her left ear in 2003, followed by hours of speech therapy. She received a second implant in her right ear in 2012. She still lip reads when conversing in noisy environments, because words can be difficult to decipher from competing sounds.  "It's hard for me to listen, because I have to listen very, very closely. When I go to dance comps, it'll be very loud with the music and it's hard for me to talk to one person at a time."

The videos, shot in Auckland over two days this month, tell Macy's story in her words, and those of her parents Roxanne and John.It was emotional to hear her parents discuss her deafness on camera, the teen says.  "I don't really hear or see my parents talk about my hearing and my dance. I'm normally the one showing my dance.” While in Auckland, Macy met New Zealand's reigning queen of hip hop Parris Goebel, whose school, The Palace Dance Studio, she hopes to attend one day. Macy's advice for others is simple: "I just want people to follow their dreams, be who they are, and never give up. I just always try to stay positive, and enjoy every moment."