Dreaming With A Broken Heart – BSL Interpretation

Dreaming With a Broken Heart by John Mayer, performed by Alim Jayda

Alim works as a professional Musical Theatre Performer having trained at The Italia Conti Academy. His passion for sign language stems from his family, both his parents and two of his three siblings are profoundly deaf. Alim seems like a busy bee, when he’s not acting, dancing or singing he (in his words) “tries to be an interpreter as well as pulling pints in a bar”.

I saw Alim perform as part of this year’s Definitely Theatre’s 4 Play (You can read my response here) and was wowed by his presence on stage. I was excited to find him on Youtube and got the chance to interview him about his recently posted video.

What influenced you to translate a song into BSL?

I was innocently asked by a friend of mine what deaf people did if they wanted to hear a song. I explained, but also explained that there was such a thing called ‘Sign Song’!

I’d never done one before but have seen a few in my time… I’ve always truly enjoyed doing it and after choreographing a piece of dance with sign language in 2010 – Its something I have always wanted to do!

I think it can be one of the most beautiful things to watch….. using your body to create and tell a story is something I want to always continue to be able to do.

Why did you choose Dreaming With A Broken Heart by John Mayer?

John Mayer has always been one of my favourite artists…. After seeing a number of AMERICAN SIGN song videos…. The ones that always seemed to work were the songs that meant a little bit more. Sure, you could bop around to anything but I truly believe that you need to have a personal connection to a song to be able to convey and give it something. I have my own personal connections – Its also nice to see that its not always the female that dreams with a broken heart..many a men are!

What skills do you need to draw on to translate a song? Tell me a bit about your process…

If I’m honest… it was completely organic. I practiced and envisioned it in my head once… then shot it. It was my first time even using my camera on my mac let alone properly finalizing and uploading something to Youtube! I tried to however, place myself into the song and become a character. I didn’t want to just SIGN something…. I wanted to feel it!

Who are your song signing influences?

If I’m honest… I don’t really have many influences in song sign, HOWEVER a woman who has always truly inspired me is Paula Garfield at Deafinitely Theatre. She taught me how to really embrace my sign language and how to create something so visually beautiful. We were working on telling the story of the 3 little pigs one day…. She gave me an example and I expanded. Theres truly NO limits with sign song and I truly believe that she gave me the confidence to do something like this!

it’s a GREAT opportunity to spread and increase deaf awareness! So many people just make music and assume deaf people won’t hear so won’t be interested. I know SO many that LOVE listening to music and it’s a huge part of their lives. Sign Song doesn’t only make the lyrics more accessible but also allows to bring the feeling of the song to life.

Alim’s passion for deaf awareness is apparent and he is pleasantly surprised about the reaction to his video so far. He hopes it will reach a wide audience including many deaf people and possibly some celebrities. 

Speaking of celebrities, what do you think of the much debated Paul McCartney video starring Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp using sign language? (My Valentine video here)

It’s stunning and god I’d id love to be a music video like that!!

Sign language is so beautiful It needs to be exposed more. The only problem I have is that a lot of sign song seem to be VERY heavy SSE which takes away from the feeling and emotion of the song. It should be about feeling the song’s emotion itself, therefore signing in BSL and expressing feelings through movement. I think that’s just my view however coming from a dance and acting background.

Alim will soon be filming his next BSL song in a professional studio. At this time, I’m not going to reveal the song, you’ll have to keep an eye on his progress through twitter (@A_Jaydaor his Youtube channel


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