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Watch this tiny dancer's emotional renditions of pop songs using ASL

Geneva Ellis's parents are both deaf, but they know her favorite songs: she recreates them using ASL and dance.
by Allison Slater Tate / / Source: TODAY

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At 9 years old, Geneva Ellis has already found her passion: combining her love of dance and American Sign Language (ASL) into performances set to her favorite songs.

ASL was Geneva's first language. She and her brother, Lucas, 8, are what the deaf community refer to as CODA — Children of Deaf Adults. Their parents, Ricarda Freydel and Ryan Ellis, are both profoundly deaf.

"Geneva signed before she spoke — as early as 6 months old," her mother told TODAY Parents. "She loved watching us sign songs to her and still does to this day."

When she was 3 years old. Geneva began taking dance classes at Turning Pointe Dance Center near their home in Springfield, New Jersey. Soon, she began signing during her dance routines. After she became comfortable performing for a camera, her parents began recording and sharing them.

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Recently, an emotional video of Geneva dancing and signing Pink's "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken" went viral on Facebook. "Her song selections are pretty spur of the moment," said her mom. "She does tend to pick songs that have been stuck in her head like an earworm, or click with her dance musicality."

Geneva's taste in music is eclectic, her mom said, because her parents love different things. "She has been exposed to all sorts of genres of music, but her favorites are hip-hop, pop, metal, musicals, and jazz," said Freydel. "Her favorite singers at the moment are Pink and JoJo Siwa. She wants to meet them badly."

She also idolizes ASL performers who create ASL music videos, like Rosa Lee Timm and Amber Galloway Gallego, and deaf dancer Shaheem.

"It is Geneva's goal to be a performance artist that incorporates dance with ASL," said Freydel. She practices with her competitive dance team a minimum of 10 hours a week at home and at her dance school.

In her free time, her mom said she is often found signing songs to herself. "No family trips are complete without Geneva signing songs in the car or on the plane!" she laughed.

Her family is okay with that. "This is her passion, this is her love, and we're just here to support her," said her mom. "Her brother, Lucas, is her biggest fan."

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