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Erik (Dieltjes), dancer at Etage Tropical since July 2021 with the diagnosis: degenerative myopia and glaucoma with 10% vision, told me that it is not easy to find something about dancing for the blind and visually impaired in Belgium. And that’s what it’s about now!

The figures for blind and partially sighted people in Belgium are known, as well as all over the world.

This site “Danceorientation“ or in short #Do is the first step towards more dancing opportunities for the blind and visually impaired, at any level, anywhere ….. just the beginning

The danse courses are given from september until june, each time in series of 7weeks.

We danse at these locations :

Ostend

On request

Ghent

On thursday & sunday evening

Brussels

On monday evening

Are you living elsewhere and you would like to learn salsa or bachata ? We are happily to adapt.

For all further information, please call 0473 80 97 18 or mail info@etagetropical.be .

More information about our danse school : www.etagetropical.be .

24 mei vroeg Gerald Nijenhuis van Oogatelier Varsenare van VZW Licht en Liefde om opnieuw salsa te komen dansen met zijn mensen. Mijn blijheid was groot toen ik heel wat vertrouwde gezichten terug zag. Pijel zie ik ondertussen als mijn vaste danser, hahaha, en ook Dimitri had ik een week ervoor gezien en salsa les aan gegeven tijdens de sportdag voor blinden en slechtzienden in Brugge. Ik hou heel veel van de jongens, vooral omdat ze kunnen lachen met mijn grapjes. Op één of andere manier vind Dimitri de steken die ik soms uitdeel mega grappig en dat op zich is dan weer grappig. Dus kortom, ik was blij ze terug te zien. Ook Dieter, Barbie (alias Melissa), Maria en Marleen waren opnieuw van de partij en wat zo leuk was is dat ze de notie salsa nog kenden. Door de verschillende workshops die ze volgden op verplaatsing kon ik deze keer wat verder gaan in de lesmaterie.

  • 27 maart 2022 Gent Bachata 15.00 Etage Tropical
  • 28 maart 2022 Brussel Bachata 19.00 Etage Tropical
  • 24 april 2022 Leuven Salsa & Bachata Parantee Psylos trefdag
  • 25 april 2022 Brussel Bachata 19.00 Etage Tropical
  • 28 april 2022 Oostende Bachata 20.30 Etage Tropical
  • 8 mei 2022 Brussel Sportkriebels Salsa, Bachata en Contactdansen volledige dag
  • 11 mei 2022 Brugge Salsa Sportdag voor blinden en slechtzienden
  • 24 mei 2022 Varsenare Oogatelier Salsa 11.30
  • 7 juni 2022 Kortrijk Oogatelier Salsa 11.30

MICHELE GEEFT SALSA & BACHATA LESSEN VOOR BLINDEN EN SLECHTZIENDEN

“We durven ons opnieuw volledig te smijten”

Introduction

In June 2021 I was asked by danssport Vlaanderen to put some of the tips for teachers and trainers on paper. Due to corona, the article would not be published until a year later within the VTS trainer documentation for a trainer program for teaching dancers with a visual impairment. Since I have been collecting more and more knowledge about dancing with blindness lately, I will rewrite and pimp the article for Danssport Vlaanderen in 2022. But we already got the green light to share my knowledge with you on our site in this article specifically aimed at the teacher. Happy reading and viewing.

Clips with our dance couples

  1. Ibrahim who is blind since birth learns the pas atras by means of a table, Constantine who sees does the same steps next to him but without the table.
  2. 4 couples dancing, Saïd does an improvisation, while Kim, who sees, tries to help Sabine, but Michèle prefers that the whole group runs smoothly and that there is no individual help.
  3. Michèle includes an explanation about the “El doce” figure
  4. Michèle dances with Larissa, everyone dances to music – Everyone does the line exercise.

Clips with our dance couples

  1. There are 4 dance couples, of which 1 couple with 1 sighted and 1 blind, 1 couple who sees completely, 1 couple who is completely blind, and Michèle who dances with 1 blind lady.
  2. Ibrahim stands perpendicular to a table and performs the pass atras. There are 2 tables in the room with a free place between the two tables. The sighted dancers dance between the 2 tables, the blind hold onto the table and use it as an orientation point.
  3. Sabine stands in front of a table and the last steps of the “El Doce” are explained, Michèle does this by grasping and twisting her legs and by also putting the shoulders in the right direction.

Clips with Ibrahim & Laryssa

  1. Michèle takes a selfie in front of the mirror with Ibrahim & Laryssa in the background. They perform the 3 basic Salsa steps 100% correctly and that is why Michèle takes her mask off her mouth for a moment to conjure up a big smile by analogy with the smiling faces of Ibrahim & Laryssa.
  2. Ibrahim takes a pass atras and laughs. He explains to Michèle what the French term for perpendicular means
  3. Ibrahim stands right in front of Laryssa and holds her both hands in front of him. He uses her palms to explain the steps for enchoufla. An inward twist with a movement of the dance partners. Laryssa is all focused.
  4. Ibrahim has understood the figure and explains it to Laryssa

MICHELE GEEFT SALSALESSEN VOOR BLINDEN EN SLECHTZIENDEN

“We durven ons opnieuw volledig te smijten”

Oostende

Tijdens haar lessen heet Michèle Martens – die al twaalf jaar een dansschool uitbaat – iedereen welkom, maar ze heeft extra aandacht voor mensen met een visuele beperking. Ze ontwikkelde een techniek waarbij horen en voelen centraal staat. Dinsdag proefden de leden van Oogatelier Oostende van vzw Licht en Liefde van een salsales.

Vragen, bedenkingen, mogelijkheden : Een dialoog met Piet Devos

Op dinsdag 16 november had ik een eerste ontmoeting met Piet Devos.

Piet is schrijver, kunstkenner, criticus, bevrager, denker. Zijn website: www.pietdevos.be

Op vijfjarige leeftijd kreeg hij een zeldzame netvliesaandoening retinoblastoom en werd hierdoor blind. Uitermate interessant verwoordt hij zijn aandoening als volgt: “mijn dubbelzijdige ervaring van zien en niet-zien riep de vragen over onze waarneming op die me op latere leeftijd aan het denken en het schrijven zouden zetten.”

Zoektocht naar nieuwe esthetische dansvormen voor blinden, slechtzienden en zienden

Beste Michèle,

Ook voor mij was ons gesprek van 16 december bijzonder leerzaam en inspirerend! Je werpt belangwekkende vragen op over de esthetische ervaringen van blinde mensen en in hoeverre deze te vergelijken zijn met het esthetisch genot van goedzienden, in het bijzonder in relatie tot dans. Waar kunnen blinden enerzijds (waartoe ik ook ernstig slechtziende mensen reken) en goedzienden anderzijds elkaar in hun kunstbeleving ontmoeten?

Etage Tropical was the first dance school in Ghent to partner with UiTPAS.

What is UiTPAS?

The uitpas is a savings-and bonus card for freetime activities.

  • Collect points when you participate at an UiTPAS event. 
  • Exchange your points for free tickets, discounts or other gifts.
  • Receive 3 welcome points when subscribing to UiTPAS.
  • There is also a special social rate for people who are eligible for it.

In Brussels, we partner with the Paspartoe, similar to the UiTPAS in Ghent for Brussels.

Paspartoe is THE freetime card for Brussels available for everyone. Also non-Brussels residents can enjoy the advantages (except for the one at social rate). In this way, you can participate cultural, youth- and sports activities at reduced cost. Paspartoe is your key to freetime in Brussels !

Discounts

Do you have a Paspartoe a social rate ? Then you also get additional discounts at Paspartoe events. You pay only 2EUR for all activities below the max price of 16EUR.

this article was published originally in Tibsz, the member magazine from vebes

Good to know : Inclusive salsa-course

After she once went on a trip to Cuba, Michèle Martens has been teaching salsa dance for twelve years. Visually impaired and blind people are more than welcome. Her dance school Etage Tropical is located in Ghent, Ostend and Brussels, but also active in Eeklo, Oudenaarde, Aalst, Roeselare and Dendermonde.

Michèle has developed her own system. She thinks it is important that everyone can participate ‘salsa means: a mix of’. For people with a visual impairment, she uses a method that pays a lot of attention to hearing and touching. Her detailed explanations are appreciated by all students. She works with a fixed pattern and a designated dance spot. Everything is placed in such a way that you can easily find your way.

Usually, Michèle works with a system where everyone dances with everyone. You do not need to have your own dance partner.

Full movement, getting to know many people, experiencing music intensely, letting go, and enjoying: that is what Etage Tropical offers you, whether you have experience or not. Anyone who wants to get acquainted is welcomed with open arms.

On Monday evening (7 pm) there is a dance class in VGC Comenius in Koekelberg (Brussels). On Thursdays, there will be dancing in Ostend, in agreement with the sports department. For all other locations, public transport is being looked at and/or lessons are being rescheduled. Salsa lessons at your home are also possible, or digitally. Michèle, therefore, adapts where necessary.

Info: www.etagetropical.be, info@etagetropical.be, 0473 80 97 18

this article was published first at symfoon.be

Salsa dancing: also for the blind and visually impaired

Partner dancing, including salsa, is a very feasible sport:

  • You can orientate yourself in relation to your partner. He or she will make sure you can dance in a safe place and bring you back to your place afterward.
  • Dancing is movement and body control, so good for health and posture and leads to a better appearance.
  • Dancing is a social event. You get to know a lot of new people and you can expand your circle of friends.
  • You will quickly get to know new people, expanding your social network and expanding your circle of friends.
  • Dancing is a sport and, in addition to healthy exercise, also ensures body control and correct posture. This will give you a better overall look.
  • Partner dancing or couple dancing gives you something to hold on to. You can orientate yourself as a leader or as a follower to your dance partner.
  • The partner work is also useful before, during, and after the dance class, where your dance partner can safely help you move around on the dance floor or in the entire dance hall.
  • Music is an important part of the dance. Interpreting music in a dance-related way will give you the opportunity to experience music more intensely and find more pleasure in it.
  • As a visually impaired you cannot dance better or worse because of your disability. Learning to dance is the same for everyone.

Suppose you register for a dance course for couples alone, whereby, from the start, the pass-through system is used in which men or women move a place so that everyone dances with each other.

You think that’s ideal, because now you don’t have to look for your own dance partner. Very easy and fun.

When moving on, however, you will be faced with a “blind” or “visually impaired”. You think ah ok, should be possible, until you actually start dancing.

Here are some tips for sighted dancers who dance with a blind or partially sighted dancer in a regular class with a pass-through system :

“Hello, my name is Michèle” does my introduction equally sound. I do see and am teaching salsa to visually impaired people. Last months I mainly advised sighted dance teachers, trainers and others interested in my sport discipline. But out of the dance world with blind people we aim to innovate by putting the world upside down. Together with Manuel Delaere, who’s having Retinitis Pigmentosa and who now is taking my dance classes for some 2 years, we came up with the idea writing an article about “Tips for inclusive dancing”. Instead of giving tips for sighted trainers and sighted students, we now do it the other way around. Our aim is simple: just building a bridge between two worlds where we can find and enjoy each other on the dance floor. This way we can have fun together in a context of inclusivity, having the focus 100% on dancing.

On October 3, 2021, I was allowed to provide “a trainer lesson” for 14 dancers – trainers for the federation “Danssport Vlaanderen” in the context of further training for G-sport within the Flemish Trainer School.

I would like to thank the federation for including through myself the debate, the need, and the future perspective of inclusive dance lessons for “blind and partially sighted people” on a meeting day.

Only by connecting, sharing, transferring knowledge, talking, debating, trying out, feeling, experiencing can we work on the subject with this initiative.

In all of this, the sole aim must be: to give the blind and partially sighted the chance to dance their way naturally on the dance floor.

That is why we have to inform sighted trainers, but above all, turn as many blind and partially sighted people as possible into dancers and possibly much more.

It is my absolute dream to one day have such a good blind dancer in the school that assisting and teaching sighted and non-sighted people will become a regular thing.

A work of years, an idea that can evolve… maybe one day we will see it completely differently.

In any case, there is nothing to stop us, the dance community, from going all out for that pursuit of…

Usually, we show you 2 videos

Clip 1

  • A sighted dancer dances modernly on the cane for the blind, while her eyes are closed.
  • Reflection afterward: “I felt safe because of the stick, the more I moved, the more I could determine the distance and dared to move further”
  • In the video you can clearly see what she means by “dare”, the technical dance moves get better and better towards the end.

Clip 2

  • A sighted dancer dances with connection against the wall as a foothold.
  • Reflection afterward: “Even though I could move based on the connection with the wall, it hindered me in my full dance expression”

Please find the link to the full presentation ( in Dutch ) :

On 28/04/2021 Gent Sport organized a Blind(sports)date. Michèle gave the course online.

Blind (sports) date: choose your sport

Do you want to discover a new sport and take out all your worries? Good news! On Wednesday afternoon, April 28, everyone from 6 years with a visual impairment is welcome to the “Blind (sports) date” in Ghent.

Parantee-Psylos is joining forces with Sportdienst Gent, Licht en Liefde, Braille Liga, Low Vison Gent, Sint-Rafael and some Ghent sports clubs to make it a great afternoon.

You can choose from:

  • an online session of salsa from Etage tropical
  • a climbing or athletics session on the Blaarmeersen
  • a bike ride with your own bubble on a tandem. The bicycle embassy is ready for this.

We make every effort to ensure that this sports afternoon runs safely and closely monitor corona measures. We work with small bubbles of max. 3 people + 1 supervisor per sport session. The salsa session is online.

Hello Manuel,

Sometimes people come on your life path who bring about profound changes and who gives the direction in which you are going a completely new turn.

I have to be honest, without the input you gave me over the past few months, I wouldn’t be so quick to discover the things needed to gain insights into the subject:

“DANCE FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED AND BLIND”


With the collaboration of