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Bailando Bailando

as published in “De witte stok 4de editie” Braille liga

A while ago, one of our members sent us an email that he was having salsa lessons tailormade for people with a visual disability.

We wanted to know more about that so we contacted Michèle Martens, the driving force of the project and we met her in her dance studio Etage Tropical in Ghent.

Are you visually impaired or blind?

And do you want to help me make a difference in movement and dance for the future?

Then come and help us on February 11th 2023.

Individually or with two or with a group.

I call on people with a visual impairment to test innovation with us.

Dancer or not?
Makes no difference!
First of all, I’m going to present you with some case scenarios related to movement and being blind.

When?
from 11 a.m. on February 11, 2022

Where?
Koekelberg – VGC Comenius

More info soon but if interested, send me an email info@etagetropical.be
PS. pass it on to everyone you know.

Greetings Michele

Kizombatreat Festival

A dialogue between upper body and lower body connection in couple dance.

Foreword: Between 3 and 5 June of this year (2022), the first kizombatreat festival took place at Etage Tropical in Ghent. Many times we refer to the importance of Etage Tropical within the kizomba community and how 15 years ago we were at the origin of the spread of this Angolan dance in Belgium. Together with Jose Garcia Ndongola from Angola, we put kizomba on the map in Belgium.

At Danceorientation I was assigned to provide an oriental dance performance during the breaks.  There were oriental snacks and drinks. What is Oriental Dance?  Though people say mostly belly dance, it isn’t entirely correct, because in this dance it is mainly the hips that are moved, but also the abdomen, shoulders, chest, head, and so on.  It is a Middle Eastern dance where different body parts are isolated and these movements combined.  There is a lot of variation in styles, depending on the region, sometimes soft, sometimes very strong. This of course is accompanied by oriental rhythms and melodies.

Beste deelnemer aan het eerste inclusieve dansfestival voor blinden, slechtzienden en zienden.

Wat zijn we reuze gelukkig dat we dit festival voor de eerste keer mogen organiseren in Brussel en Europa. Dit dankzij de vele steun van letterlijk velen. Het dansfestival is een samenwerking van verschillende organisaties. Vzw Etage Tropical krijgt daarbij de hulp van Sport Vlaanderen, VGC sport Brussel, De Platoo, BVBA Sensotec, Salsa2night, Giro Wacko, trainers en vrijwilligers van Etage Tropical en jullie. Letterlijk een hele hoop mensen hebben zich met heel veel voorbereidend werk ingezet voor dit eerste festivalletje. We hopen alleen maar dat jullie er met volle teugen zullen van genieten.

Dit gezegd zijnde staan we uiteraard voor een uitdaging! Nooit eerder was er een dansfestival met deze configuratie.

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 .

May 24, Gerald Nijenhuis of “Oogatelier Varsenare” of “VZW Licht en Liefde” to come and dance salsa with his people again. My joy was great when I saw many familiar faces again. I now see Pijel as my dance partner, hahaha, and I had also seen Dimitri a week before and taught salsa during the sports day for the blind and visually impaired in Bruges. I like the boys very much, especially because they can laugh at my jokes. Somehow Dimitri finds the jokes sometimes mega funny and that in itself is funny. So in short I was happy to see them again. Dieter, Barbie (alias Melissa), Maria and Marleen were also present again and what was so nice to see is that they still knew the notion of salsa. Because of the various workshops they followed on other locations, I was able to go a little further in detail in the matter this time.

  • 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 PROVIDES SALSALES FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY SIGHTED

“We dare to throw ourselves completely again”

Ostend

During her lessons, Michèle Martens – who has been running a dance school for twelve years – welcomes everyone, but she pays extra attention to people with a visual impairment. She developed a technique in which hearing and feeling are central. On Tuesday the members of “Oogatelier Oostende” of “vzw Licht en Liefde” tasted a salsa lesson.

Questions, ideas, options : A dialog with Piet Devos

On Tuesday, November 16, I had a first meeting with Piet Devos.

Piet is a writer, art connoisseur, critic, questioner, thinker.
His website:  www.pietdevos.be

At the age of five, he developed rare retinal disorder retinoblastoma, and became blind as a result. He expresses his condition very interestingly as follows: “My two-sided experience of seeing and not seeing raised questions about our perception that would make me think and write later in life.”

Search for new aesthetic dance forms for the blind, visually impaired, and the sighted

Dear Michele,

Our conversation on 16 December was also very educational and inspiring for me! You raise interesting questions about the aesthetic experiences of blind people and to what extent these are comparable to the aesthetic pleasure of the sighted, especially in relation to dance. Where can blind people on the one hand (which I also include severely visually impaired people) and sighted people on the other hand meet each other in their art experience?

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