Recently I’ve been a bit confused with the statement in the blind community about the difference between being blind at birth and becoming blind later in life and the vision of this in dance. It seems to me in the first place also logically that someone who ever saw has a certain memory about how the motor skills were when they still saw. But last week I was on the phone with a really cool lady, Eva, who has the eye disease of retinitis pigmentosa and let me understand that she is losing her memory of seeing while the memory of body language is taking over.

I’m not quite sure what blind people mean by this, but I suspect it is about things being forgotten or fading into the background as new points of reference emerge from the other senses. I make it my job to find out next time, because like said, I don’t see it and must therefore imagine it. But suppose instead of going blind overnight, you can see again overnight. That while you didn’t see for years? I wonder if the shock wouldn’t it be the same size? And would it be even greater if you were born blind or lost your sight at a very young age and suddenly wake up 30 years later and see?

I can imagine that the confusion must be huge and that all the reference points of yesteryear may not disappear but are completely questioned and need to be reprogrammed. Wouldn’t the anxiety be as big? Certain things that you interpreted this way or that and that you come to the conclusion that it is completely different from what you imagined? Or rather suddenly feels completely different? I automatically think of the legend of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, who were raised as twins by a she-wolf. Or rather Tarzan, who grew up among the apes and became king of the jungle. Tarzan becomes human the moment he meets with Jane
and then enters the human world. It soon turns out that he is still some kind of lord and in no time he becomes a real gentleman with all the etiquette and knowledge that entails. But occasionally he returns to the jungle to climb into trees and to shout his well-known cry: being master of the jungle, or in other words “man among beasts”. So in this elaboration I think like this: you wake up and you see again. For example with a bionic eye for people with rhetinitis disease?

Then what happens? I’d like to put the question to the readers of #do: 

  1. Imagine waking up in the morning and you can see again? What would that do to you?
  2. How would you feel about your previous points of reference and how would you feel about the new ones?
  3. Can you imagine such a thing?
  4. Do you still take the old reference points as the only truth?
  5. What if you combine old and new reference points?
  6. How hard do you think seeing would have an impact on your being?
  7. How hard do you think seeing will take over again? And how soon do you think that would happen?

Now if we apply this to dance:

  1. Does motor reference make sense?
  2. What do you think that would do to your dancing skills?
  3. What do you think that would do to your confidence?
  4. What do you think that would do to the aesthetic finish of a movement?

What I found with Georgia, a lady who dances salsa very well and who is blind by birth, is that any approach of blind by birth or blind by illness has no influence on the effect of the figure.

See for yourself how she gets to work here with the figure: “coca-cola”

The coca-cola is an internationally recognized figure within Cuban salsa, in which a left turn is made on a perpendicular line, with the guidance of the dance partner. the leader holds the lady perpendicular to its axis and then pulls it in a nice straight left turn from place a to place b by 180 degrees. Georgia herself rotates 360 degrees.

Mobie Georgia:

For those who see it, she’s doing great.

Georgia is as we say motor strong as a blind. It is simply the case that some people are born motor stronger than others. Of course, education of movement in the early years and youth are always very important.

Blind at birth or blind due to illness, a distinction must be made between a sport with a protocol and one without a protocol. Do we abide by the rules of this sport or not? I think it’s a pity that a division is made inside a community as small as the blind community where every vote counts between blind in birth or blind in disease in dance. I find that painful because every voice counts and united one can do much more.

Blind or not, in every sport, protocol is the only way out and the only language. A structural base of a dance style serves as the only reference. Whether it’s about classical ballet, jazz, hip-hop, ten dance and also salsa. The rule is for everyone equal and blind people can’t get away with just doing something.

Just think of torbal and the rules. For the occasion I link these regulations with a letter from G-sport Vlaanderen :

It states in the first paragraph:

Technique, strength and concentration are therefore the basic components for this sport.

So that should also be the case in dance and a general classification applies.

Admittedly within the dance sport, classification is not always written out perfectly. However, general rules are known, which applies to classical ballet, but also to amateur dances such as salsa or other couple dances (kizomba or lindy hop, ….). However, the chaos of oversupply means that classification in dance can and should be improved. But of course this is bound to the style and the quality standards determined within the style. I think, for example, of the ballet competition in Lausanne, where the very best dancers in the world are judged.

At torbal they make, among other things, also a distinction between restricted body position and free body position and it is very specifically described when one must and the other is possible. This should therefore also be applied to dance for the blind and visually impaired. If space is created for individual interpretation, account must first and foremost be taken of the imposed framework within which the organization operates.

I therefore encourage every blind person (whether at birth or not) to write their own sports protocol. Invent a dance style that is accessible to all, where all people can enjoy how to dance with the eyes closed and let the world enjoy….. supersensible elements….