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What's it like to take a ballet class when you're blind?

The Royal Opera House's weekly class for blind and partially sighted people debunks the myth that ballet is a solely visual art form.

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

1 August 2016 at 12.50pm | 1 Comment

For most, ballet is a visual art form. The corps de ballet move together as if they are one body, reacting to each other to synchronize their movements and complement their positions on stage. So how can such an art form be accessible to blind and partially sighted people?

For over 25 years, the Royal Opera House's Monday Moves project has been challenging that very presumption of the art form's visual nature, with weekly ballet classes specifically for adults with sight impairment.

‘It was an experiment to see if visually impaired people could do ballet,’ explains Maggie, one of the founding members of Monday Moves.

Many of the participants had tried other dance classes in the past, but found them difficult to follow as they couldn't see what the teacher was doing. At Monday Moves participants have a shared movement language in the form of ballet's French terminology, enabling faster and more accurate responses to vocal instruction.

Participants of Monday Moves, ballet classes for blind and visually impaired people © 2016 ROH. Photo by Brian Slater.

Monday Moves classes also take place in a large, familiar studio, encouraging participants to be unrestrained in their movement. ‘It's so wonderful to be able to prance across a really long studio and know there is nothing in the way,’ says Maggie. ‘Your body feels better, and your mind feels better for having done things you didn’t think you could do.’

Listen to the full audio feature produced by RNIB Connect Radio, Europe's first radio station for blind and partially-sighted listeners.

Subscribe to the Royal Opera House Soundcloud channel for more interviews and features like this one:

Monday Moves classes take place weekly from 6.30-8pm. For more information about joining, call Niesha Holder on 0207 212 9410 or email Niesha.Holder@roh.org.uk

Monday Moves is generously supported by the Lord Leonard and Lady Estelle Wolfson Charitable Foundation.

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

1 August 2016 at 12.50pm

This article has been categorised Ballet, Learning and tagged Ballet, ballet class, blind, community, Learning & Participation, Monday Moves, partially-sighted, RNIB, visual impairment

This article has 1 comment

  1. Georgina Bruce responded on 10 January 2017 at 5:56pm Reply

    Thought this is great but need dance classes in the day time as i am visually impaired and have night blindness.i enjoyed ballet for years but would like to dance more contempary as a mature student.

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