“Even if you can’t hear the music, you can still dance to your heartbeat,” says Deaf hip-pop dancer John Ying


Photo: Ziyu Peng

Ying is the first deaf person to serve on the board of the Boston Dance Alliance.

The label of disability places unnecessary limits on what people with disabilities can do. John Ying decided to ignore such stereotypes, along with the word “can’t.”

Ying is a skilled hip-pop dancer and a senior software engineer. He is a member of the Boston Dance Alliance and the first Deaf person to serve on its board. Ying is also an assistant coach with DEAFinitely, Inc, a Deaf youth performing arts organization in Boston.

Ying has no hearing if he takes off his audiphones. “But you can dance to your heartbeat,” he says. He believes everyone has their internal rhythm: instead of first being perceived as a Deaf person, Ying wants people to see his artistry and dance skills. 

Dance isn’t Ying’s sole hobby, either. He also enjoys gymnastics and is an avid rock climber. He says he was surprised when he stopped saying “can’t” and started slowly trying things he was interested in. Ying likes coaching kids on breakdancing. He says these experiences remind him of when he was little, and he wants other differently abled children to have the dancing resources he didn’t have growing up.