Dancing beyond sight is an Acoustic dance hub that invites people from all ages and background to experience dance beyond sight. It will shed light on the sonic and tactile aspect of dance which is often overlooked due to heavy reliance on sight. However, when people realize that dance can truly be felt and enjoyed through other senses, it becomes a whole new form of expression. An expression which can be mediated through touch and sound. This shall be attained by taking visitors to an acoustic dance journey using sound jewelry guided by a blind person.
The acoustic dance journey will consist of several stages to understand how sound jewelry can be used in dance: blind dancers will teach the visitors how sound jewelry can be used to dance and to transmit dance, and at the end, the visitors will attend a short performance by the blind dancers.
However, the journey will not be the typical one in which people comes to “see” the dance. Rather, space will be completely dark, either by means of lighting or by blindfolding the visitors. Through a two-hour journey, I hope to leave a life-long impact. I believe that experiencing dance in a new way will transform the notion of dance as well as it will ultimately eliminate the institutional and attitudinal barriers for the blind people.
The project will be operated for a month in one specific location and will be replicated in different parts of a given country reaching a global scale. I am keen to reach out to identify potential ways to collaborate with like-minded organizations around the world.
About the Dancing in the Dark /Acoustic Dance Hub
The previous discussions highlight the need for dance performance which can be perceived acoustically. Acoustic dance has a fundamentally different paradigm: dance happens in a dark space where the blind dancers are the experts, where they are able to perceive their own movements through sound.
There will be a blind guide to tour 7 to 10 people around the dark dance spaces. The visitors will navigate around the spaces through tactile senses, sound, olfactory stimuli, etc. The visitors will be taken through an acoustic dance journey using sound jewelry through different rooms where they are received by a small group of blind dancers:
Room 1: The blind dancers teach the visitors the use of the sound jewelry. The participants learn to fasten it to their feet, arms, head, and hips; and to recognize the different sounds that each body part can produce.
Room 2: The visitors experience the dance transmission process. The blind dancers will demonstrate the teaching and learning process to the visitors. The visitors will learn acoustic dance motifs.
Room 3: the visitors experiment with some of the learned motifs with sound jewelry
Room 4: the visitors attend a performance given by blind dancers. Next, the visitors join the dance together with the blind dancers.
The session in Room 4 will close with an interactive discussion between the blind dancers and the visitors with snacks. A feedback form will be handed out at the reception room where they can leave their comments. The visitors can ask any questions to the blind dancers. The main topic will be how their visit to the Dance Hub affected their perception of dance, blind people, or their perception of life.
The visitors will be charged with a nominal fee that contributes to the sustainability of the project.
The Expected Impact
The visitors will experience dance as a blind and visually impaired person experiences it through other senses than sight. By letting go of the self-conscious feelings of how people look when they are dancing, all people can feel free to move to the music in their own way. This freedom opens up a whole new world of acceptance. An acceptance is not only of others, but also of one self.
By learning to enjoy dance through sonic and tactile, rather than as visual stimulation, not only has the mindset of this art form been changed, so too has the mindset of society in regards to blind and visually impaired people. Because they are the experts in this dance journey, blind are becoming contributors to society, rather than being passive receivers. They are empowered, and they will no longer have to be outside the realm of dance.
This transformation will hopefully impact blind people’s lives, enabling them to live a dignified life in society. In addition, acoustic dance has significance for the field of dance, since it brings sonic and tactile elements to the front as new dimensions to explore. Hence, the dark space becomes an enabling condition for exploration. It is in the dark space that sighted people will be able to realize the potential they possess in the use of their other senses. The dark space is also significant for the blind, for it includes both blind and sighted in a similar perceptual affordance.
The Structural Design
The Acoustic Dance Hub will be set up in a very peaceful environment. This is to help the visitors to completely focus on the senses they experience. The hub will be opened from 5 to 10 pm twice a week. The dark rooms will incorporate tactile, sound and olphatory stimuli. As they walk, the space will be defined by changes of the floor materials that create different tactile and auditive sensations when being walked on. To guide them there will be handrails that the visitors can hold that will connect them from one room to the other. The spacing of the room will be wide enough so that they are not tumbling with one another and hence it feels safe to move around. The acoustic ceiling will be designed for a good sound distribution.