UK Dances to the Beat of Deaf Actress Rose Ayling-Ellis


In 2016, Nyle DiMarco surprised the world as the first Deaf person to win the TV dance competition Dancing with the Stars in the United States. This time, it is the turn of young Deaf Rose Ayling-Ellis, who has been crowned champion of the Stritly Come Dancing TV competition in the UK

Rose Ayling-Ellis con el premio de campeona en Strictly Come Dancing junto a su pareja de baile, Giovanni Pernice
Rose Ayling-Ellis, champion of the TV dance competition Strictly Come Dancing 2021 (photo:

What Is Strictly Come Dancing?

Strictly Come Dancing is a BBC television dance competition in which celebrities paired with professional dancers face off in a standard ballroom and Latin dance competition. The competition format has been so successful that it has had 19 seasons so far in the UK and has been exported to over 40 countries, including the United States, known as Dancing with the Stars, where Nyle DiMarco won in 2016.

Rose Ayling-Ellis and her partner Giovanni Pernice celebrating victory on Strictly Come Dancing (photo: Guy Levy/BBC)

Rose Before Strictly Come Dancing

Rose Ayling-Ellis has been deaf since birth and, at the time of winning this competition, is 27 years old. Although she has enjoyed dancing and had some ballet lessons as a child, she was not particularly good at it and did not feel she fit in with the group: "In a home video, you can see all the kids with perfect timing and I’m trotting along behind trying to copy what they were doing". So learning to dance at this level was a challenge for her.

Rose was always passionate about acting and she combined her university studies in fashion design with acting for Deafinitely Theatre, the first professional theatre company set up and run by deaf people in the UK, producing bilingual theatre in British Sign Language and spoken English. Rose was back at Deafinitely Theatre for a visit on 10 November, accompanied by her dance partner in the TV competition (Giovanni Pernice) which the company celebrated on its website:

Visit of Rose Ayling-Ellis to the Deafinitely Theatre Company (photo: web Deafinitely Theatre)

The television series EastEnders catapulted Rose to fame, as she has appeared in 83 episodes of the series. The series is a highly successful British soap opera broadcast since 1985 on BBC One. It has been broadcast daily since 2001, making it over 8,000 episodes and Rose made her first appearance in the series on 18 May 2020.

Before that, Rose had starred in several short films and appeared in a couple of episodes in other TV series. In 2017, she appeared in a music video for The Vamps, a famous British pop rock band. In the video, which has almost 14 million views, a Deaf couple argue in Sign Language:

Rose Boosted Interest in Sign Language

Since Rose began appearing on the TV competition, internet searches for British Sign Language courses have increased by 300% and several British Sign Language companies have experienced a huge growth in demand for courses, some up to 2,844% more. Another organisation said that it usually received 20-30 registrations for sign language courses per day and on 31 October they received more than 700 registrations.

Of course, at the same time, internet searches for Sign Language in the UK also increased rapidly, as shown by Google search trends up to the time of publication of this article:

How Does Rose Dance Being Deaf?

Rose confesses that she started the competition timidly but gained confidence and, in the sixth week of the competition, she reached the jury's maximum score (40 points), as she did in the final. In fact, it was the first dance couple to achieve this perfect score in this season of the contest. In one of the dances (called Couple's Choice), the music was muted in the middle of the choreography while they were still dancing, in homage to the deaf community, which gave many people goosebumps. This happens at approximately 1:24 minutes into the video below:

As opposed to the technique used by many deaf people in dance, who are guided by vibrations, Rose commits each step to muscle memory and counts them out in her head, using some sound she receives through her headphones directly connected by bluetooth to her mobile phone. She also spent hours at home with her ears pressed up to a speaker, studying and learning songs and their rhythms and memorising them.

Proud of the Deaf Community

Now that the competition is over, Rose uses the interviews to raise awareness of the difficulties of deaf children in education, which she herself also experienced. She always has words of thanks for her mother, who had to fight hard for her daughter's rights. Rose says that this is the reality today for many deaf children in schools: "Unfortunately, that’s a normal life for many deaf children – they are in mainstream schools with no access".

Rose is proud to have been Deaf since childhood:

I feel really glad that I knew who I was from a very early age. I never ever once thought: ‘I wish I could hear.’ Because if I was hearing, I’d be a completely different person. I wouldn’t have the life experience that I have. I’d just be really normal. I don’t want to be normal – that’s boring.

Although Rose reads lips and is fluent in English, she learned Sign Language in childhood (so did her hearing mother) and it is the world in which she feels truly comfortable:

The deaf community is the one place I can be where I fully understand everything. In the hearing world, I’m constantly having to lip-read and trying to understand what’s going on. Sign language is so beautiful. It gives you a strong identity, something to be very proud of – the community, the culture. I love the deaf community.


She Won Because She Was the Best, Not Because She Is Deaf

The whole of the UK vibrated to the rhythm of the dance couple Rose and Giovanni, who won, not because Rose is deaf, but because they won over both the judges and the audience. Rose proves once again that Deaf people make numerous contributions all over the world, this time to television entertainment and show business (if you like music and dance, here are all the articles published in Unusualverse about it). Rose's victory in this dance championship is likely to open other doors for Rose although she has no intention of leaving the EastEnders TV series for the time being.

You can follow Rose on Instagram, where she already has over half a million followers, and on Twitter.

We close the article with the dance of the final that gave him the victory:


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