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Art Culture Lifestyle People June 3, 2016

The Exceptional Macy Baez

Pure parental instinct persuaded John and Roxanne Baez that there was a problem with their daughter, Macy, but doctors put it down to inexperience and over-protectiveness. “When she was little, there was something different,” says John. “We weren’t extremely young parents, but we were in the eyes of the medical profession and they were saying, ‘No, it’s your first child, you’re just a little bit stressed out. You’re doing great.’ But you just know, because you’re with your child 24/7.”


John and Roxanne were right, however, for it later transpired that Macy, who is now 15, had been born profoundly deaf. Early on she taught herself how to sign for things she wanted and also, with the help of her folks, mastered lip reading. In 2003, Macy received her first cochlear implant procedure in her left ear, followed by many hours of speech therapy, then four years ago she had a second implant in her right. “Because I have my bandana, “ says the teenager, “people don’t notice that I’m actually deaf.” She still has to lip read when in loud situations.


Macy hails from New South Wales. She fell in love with dancing at a young age and began lessons in 2008. “I feel the vibration under my feet, so that’s how I can hear what’s going,” says the teenager. “It’s weird, but it’s a really good feeling. When I dance, I dance like normal, like everyone.”


“We call it being really musical, when a dancer can just interpret music and pick up layers from that heavy bass,” says her dance teacher Brooke Tulloch. “She can read that and predict it in music so well.”


“She loves music because she’s not judged on how she speaks or thinks,” adds mum Roxanne. “The music allows her to have a conversation.”


Macy competes with her hip hop dance group, Illagoovers, who have qualified for the world championships in Las Vegas later this year. “Sometimes judges don’t know about my ears and give me feedback like ‘you need to listen to the music more’,” says Macy. “But I don’t really want to show my ears to them, I just want to show my dance. Dance is a language for me. I feel the beat speaks to me and I speak back through dance.”


Sony are so impressed with Macy’s moves they’ve made her the face of their latest Extra Bass wireless speaker, enlisting Josh Fountain of Auckland’s Level Two Music to compose a bass-heavy track especially for her. The campaign is named DEFY. “I wanted to make a track that would kick you in the stomach and make you want to move,” says Josh. “I wanted to strip away the layers in order to concentrate on bass frequencies that you can physically feel.”


Roxanne says Macy dreams of attending Parris Goebel’s Palace Studios here in Auckland once she finishes school. “Parris Goebel is a strong, strong woman,” beams Macy. “She’s just amazing, how she dances — it’s fierce and clean. I don’t know how she does it, but she brought all the female dancers up to become better, bigger and stronger.”


To Macy’s surprise, Sony arranged a meeting with her idol on her recent Auckland jaunt. “The fact that Macy has embraced music and dance despite the fact she’s born deaf is incredible,” Parris says. “I can’t even imagine what that would be like. I just keep trying to put myself in that position, how much courage it would take to actually be in front of people and dance. So I can see that she not only has a big heart, but she’s very, very fearless.”


Words: Jamie Christian Desplaces

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