I spent a very enjoyable, challenging, entertaining couple of hours with a rather inspirational patient of ours this month. She is developing a project to help people with vision difficulties and the sighted community understand each other better through the medium of dance. Now, anyone who knows me will not automatically associate me with interpretive dance, indeed I have previous for enjoying this medium but proving subsequently for it to have been more ‘misinterpretive dance’. Prior to this we spent an hour together in the practice for me to help her by explaining common forms of vision loss and what the person might possibly experience.

When I rocked up at the dance studio, I met our director as well as two professional dancers who had just been rendered temporarily completely blind for three hours beforehand. They demonstrated the piece of work they had been working on that day, and then we sat down so they could ask me whatever questions they had about the visual system and how it can malfunction. It turns out that I had as many questions for them as they did for me. Amongst a bunch of other stuff, I learned two really interesting things regarding human beings experiencing a lack of visual stimulus.

Firstly, the engaging, young, capable male dancer seemed to cope quite well for a number of hours amongst other techniques, using the way his voice bounced off the objects around him to determine the proximity of walls etc. That is, until he indeed hit something of a psychological wall, and became acutely agitated and frustrated. It was the acuteness of it that he finds he found deeply strange. 

The second interesting insight I got was from the direct, challenging, insightful young female dancer about when the blindfold was removed. She described beautifully, feeling almost inexplicably overwhelmed an emotion she could not quite describe – what’s more, she didn’t seem like the type of person who would be prone to this.

I am so excited about this project, and really interested as to how these guys are going to take this forward – I can’t wait for the next instalment. Indeed, I will most definitely be buying tickets for the front row and enjoy misinterpreting it.

Andrew, Optometrist.

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