“We dare to throw ourselves completely again”


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.

“Put your left foot back and then your right foot and now turn.” Michèle indicates loud and clear what the dancers should do during their first salsa in the Mister V-Arena in Ostend. These dancers are completely absorbed in the music and their newly learned dance steps. There is a wide smile on their faces. They can dance in peace without being embarrassed because they don’t immediately see what needs to be done. Michèle gives clear instructions and occasionally lets the dancers feel in which direction they should go.

Erik Dieltjens from Nijlen has been taking salsa lessons for some time at Etage Tropical in Ghent.

“I used to do ballroom dancing. Six years ago, my vision started to deteriorate, making it more and more difficult to follow the classes. You just don’t see what someone is showing up front in a full hall with other dancers. No explanation is given either. I then went looking for a dance school for the blind and partially sighted, but there was none. Fortunately, I was eventually able to visit Michèle,” says Erik. He took Wendy Devriendt from Ostend with him on Tuesday.


“It’s really nice because you’re more comfortable. I’ve taken Zumba, but you just can’t join, because you don’t see what to do. That gnaws at your self-confidence and eventually, you hardly dare to move. I immediately felt at ease here and I could throw myself completely, “says the Ostend. She is happy that the offer is being made available to people who are visually impaired. “Many activities take place elsewhere in the country, but then you are on the road for so long with public transport.” Annelies and Dimitri are also clearly enjoying themselves. “It’s exhausting and fast, but it’s enjoyable.”

Yana Cloet of “Oogatelier Oostende” engaged Etage Tropical for the dance workshop. “We are a service center for the blind and partially sighted. We have a permanent center in Kortrijk, but we also want to further expand our operations in Ostend. At the moment we still work mobile at various locations. There is also a cooking workshop on Friday in the Sociale Kruidenier.”

This class was specially organized for people from the “Oogatelier”, but Michèle mainly wants to offer salsa for everyone. Everyone gets extra attention, but very specifically extra instructions are given for those who don’t see very well. “The advantage is that other participants also sometimes benefit from being clearly told what to do. I have specifically focused on developing a technique to learn dance. We insist that the lessons are inclusive. That’s the beauty. We are the only ones in Flanders that specialize in this,” says Michèle. Aldermen Bart Plasschaert and, aldermen Hina Bhatti also came to take a look. After all, the city wants extra attention for an inclusive offer for athletes with a disability.