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How a Young Brooklyn Dancer is defying odds and performing despite of severe hearing loss

To be a dancer, you need skill, rhythm, dedication…and something else that’s so obvious that you probably never think of it – the ability to hear the music. But Vako Gvelesiani, a young dancer from Brooklyn is proving that’s not necessarily true.

“When I listen to music, I only hear the beat, I can’t hear the lyrics,” Vako said. “But like to me, I think, you’re not supposed to hear the music you’re supposed to feel the music.”

Vako began losing his hearing when he was only 2 years old. While suffering from a 104-degree fever, his mother, Irma said, he started asking his parents to increase the volume of the television. A trip to the doctor revealed that Vako had hearing loss. The diagnosis, Vako said, was “a shock.”

When Vako first auditioned for, and made, the Brooklyn Nets Kids, he kept his hearing loss a secret, hiding his hearing aids beneath his long hair. He didn’t tell others that he couldn’t hear the music, and when the music came on and it was time to dance, he didn’t have to. 

“I was like, this is a little Williamsburgy cool guy who has some really smooth moves,” Vako’s coach, Tanisha Scott said. “Every time the music came on, he just lit up. I was like, we need this kid.”

But soon, during rehearsals, Scott realized that something wasn’t right. “They kept saying I wasn’t listening,” Vako said. “So I knew I had to tell them that I had hearing loss.”

Scott said she was shocked, but, she said, that certain things started to make sense, such as Vako’s preference to rehearse in the back of the class.  

To learn more about Vako, watch our full report above.

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