There is a dance that was written for a blind dancer here in southern NH
I will see if I can
find it and post later. It is quite fun to dance, as you never loose
contact with another person
throughout the dance.
--- You wrote:
Has anyone else had experience with blind dancers?
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Yes, I know several, one of whom was not particularly skilled as a dancer and
others who move quite comfortably.
I once had the opportunity to call for a program run by the "Ski for Light"
organization. This group pairs blind individuals with sighted partners, and they
spend their days skiing, either cross-country or downhill, depending on the
interests and skills of the folks involved. One night, they had a dance as their
The organizer, a friend and a dancer herself, told me what I could expect on the
dance floor: 1/2 partials ("partial" meant folks who were partially blind, which
she explained meant that they could see light and dark, but not much more), 1/4
totals, and 1/4 seeing but clueless (clueless about dancing, that is, not about
We had a lot of fun! I spoke to a blind dancing friend and asked for help. She
suggested that I call dances with physical contact-- stars, long lines, four in
line, allemande rather than do-si-do, for example-- to make it easier for people
to stay in touch with each other.
She also suggested that I place the PA speakers in one place, at the center of
the hall rather than our more common speakers off to two different sides of the
stage. She said that this would make it easier for folks to hear one consistent
sound to identify the top of the hall to use as a reference point.
With the consent of the organizers of the Ski for Light group, we announced
their dance at our regular evening and attracted half a dozen or so dance
helpers to come. They spread themselves out on the floor and helped out a lot.
Heres an interesting situation I came across this past Sunday when I called a dance in the Southern California area .
Lesson being: always watch the dance floor to see whats happening during the whole evening, you never know whos going to jump into the dance late
I was calling a dance at a community where the dance level is fairly high, however there are some quirky things going on in the community that I needed to keep in mind, etc . This dance starts at 6:30 9:30pm, lesson being between 6 6:30pm.
We had some new folks show up at about 6:35 6:40pm, so I chose to re-do the walk thru, and incorporated some basic tips into my teaching to the floor at large. I also went down on the floor and went directly to some hands 4 groups of experienced dancers and told them weve had some new folks that came in, theyve had no lesson; I really need your assistance in teaching them and watching out for them . That was my first time I directly did this with dancers.
So, I re-programmed dance #2 and #3 to easier dances. And jumped in with my regular program with dance #4 which took it up some notches, and everything flowed fine. Second half, I took it up considerably as this community has some very experienced dancers expecting a challenge, the new folks were doing well
During or after dance #2 second half, someone arrived with a dog. Everyone seemed to know the dog and pet and greeted the dog. It looked to me like someone just stopped in to say HI for awhile. I taught dance #3 second half. It was a dance that had a grand right & left up and down the longways set (pull by Left N1, pull by Rt N2, pull by Left N3, N4 Al Rt 1x; come back the way you came; pull by N3, Swing N2 .) .. I started thinning out my calls and was about to stop calling, and as the #2s that started down at the back of the hall, came closer to the stage, I notice there was one woman I hadnt seen before wearing a rust color dress . (I have a hawk of an eye for watching folks, especially the new folks). She was doing fine as long as I was calling. Then, when I started thinning out, she was getting confused. Some people were helping along, guiding her gently. Some stayed focused on their own dancing pleasure and let her fumble along (that was also fascinating to watch:
who guided gently and politely, and who ignored the situation! .). I tested it some more by stopping to call a bit; she got lost, called a little she was fine . Wow, this is really interesting, I thought. I hadnt seen her before .
So, this begged the question: do I keep calling to help her out (one person), or do I let her fumble and let some help out . After experimenting some more (calling thinly and watching her . I stopped calling once and she ended up in a completely different hands 4 group for the P Bal & Swg no where near her P), I finally figured out what was happening! The woman was blind! Or, at least hard of seeing . A caller friend was at the top of the set Hey I asked my friend is that woman over there blind?, . yeah, he said, quite non-chalantly, no big- deal .
I decided to keep calling thinly for her. If other dancers had more consistently assisted her from the floor, I could have stopped calling.
After the dance ended, I was talking to the band about it . And the lead accordion player said that must be her eye seeing dog! . which I hadnt even thought of or figured out. Everyone seemed to know her. It was interesting that no one thought to tell the caller that a blind / hard of seeing woman had jumped in during dance #3 of the second half.
One of the many good advice that Lisa Greenleaf and Cis Hinkle had given me when I first started calling was: if you want to be a good caller and are able to travel, hit the road and see how dancing is done, (and calling), in other parts of the United States. I took this literally, have danced all over, and also called all over, and the learning experiences Ive gained have paid off. I recently called in Fort Collins Colorado, and had danced at Denver-Boulder-Fort Collins, CO a few months before that. There was a blind gentleman who dances there, so I had both danced and called with him on the dance floor. Plus, prior to calling at the Fort Collins dance, one of the organizers included me on a lengthy email to callers addressing another topic (requesting callers to be mindful of beginners and integrating the new comers). In this email, they had also mentioned the blind gentleman that dances regularly in the community, so I was prepared.
I thought this was an experience worth sharing. I thought it was odd that she arrived and joined in the dance evening so late. But, people knew her, so it she was no stranger to the community. Keep your eyes on the floor during the whole dance. The dancers can change as the evening continues!