“Let’s close our eyes, open our hearts, and experience a world of rich multisensory imagination.”
— Mana Hashimoto

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DANCE WITHOUT SIGHT
Education Workshop | Performance | Audience Inclusion

~ UPCOMING WORKSHOP ~
Date: September 19, 2015
Location: Filomen M. D'Agostino Greenberg Music School at the Lighthouse, New York City (59th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues in Manhattan)
Target Audience: Children and youth
This dance presentation workshop is designed for blind and low vision children and youth of all levels of dance experience. In this workshop, Mana Hashimoto shares repertoire, discusses dance and blindness, and presents her original choreographed piece with pioneering touch performance and verbal description.

 

 

 

JOURNEY OF MANA HASHIMOTO AND DANCE WITHOUT SIGHT
 

 

DANCE WITHOUT SIGHT WORKSHOP

I had been a trained dancer for many years before I experienced complete vision lost in adulthood. However, I never had any thoughts that I couldn't dance anymore because of my blindness. After I lost my sight completely, I would still carry my dance shoes with me in my backpack wherever I went, hoping I could find a place to dance.  One day, a friend who was a contemporary dancer asked me if I wanted to take dance class together. My answer was "Yes!" of course.

We figured if I touched her body and observed the movements, I could learn the steps. We went to Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan, New York and took classic ballet class. I followed both my friend's body movements and the instructor's verbal guidance to learn the new steps. The door was open in front of me to step into the dance world again.

This door also opened another new world - a world of rich multisensory experience.

As I experimented and observed the way I re-learned dance through touch,I realized that seeing movements through my fingers brought me more direct information than I used to see with my physical eyes. I felt the dynamic of movements through people's spine, I could feel their energy flow, and I could feel their images they created in their mind. It was a rich and powerful way to experience human body and movements. In a way, it was more powerful than capturing people dance with eyes. I wondered, in this new world, there might be hidden possibilities for dance.

"What will happen if we close our eyes and open our hearts and dance?"

Can dance become a rich multi-sensory experience?

With this inspiration, I began the first Dance without Sight Workshop in 2009.  I am very grateful to the first group of sighted and non-sighted artists who were willing to give this a try.  In these workshops, sighted participants were asked to blindfold themselves to expand their creative horizon. Since then, I have given Dance without Sight workshops in many places.  By 2015, hundreds of people - both professional dancers and dance students and both blind and fully sighted, in New York, Chicago, California, Warsaw, Helsinki, Tokyo, Yokohama and other places have participated in Dance without Sight workshops.  

DANCE WITHOUT SIGHT PERFORMANCES

Today, I continue to produce solo contemporary dance performances to connect people of all abilities through dance. That is one of my goals for Dance without Sight. People with disabilities and diverse abilities are a key part that together weave the beautiful and multicultural fabric of our world, yet this group is often strangely absent from contemporary performances. I believe everywhere we all share a common human bond and in this spirit I use dance performances to share with the audience the blind experience, and in turn, I hope to inspire a fresh vision.

DANCE WITHOUT SIGHT INCLUSIVE AUDIENCE

Together with our advisory board, we are working on creating more opportunities for blind and low vision audience to experience dance performances.  I am excited to explore ways to provide audio description for blind audience, incorporate verbal description in performances themselves to turn access into an art, and experiment with touch tour in the back stage collaborating with dance companies and theaters. 

If you also share my passion for dance, if you also believe we can turn the loss of eyesight into a gain in new artistic vision, for both dancers and the audience, then let's all close our eyes for a moment, open our hearts and join me in this world of rich multisensory experience. Together we can turn darkness into new light, turn dreams into reality and turn the needs of audience with disabilities into a fountain of inspiration for the dance field.

With love and warmth,
Mana Hashimoto
Founder, Dance without Sight