Optimizing the experience of dance for blind users
The main focus of the research is on the social role of art and the importance of making art accessible to everyone, particularly blind users. By translating the visual aspect of dance to other senses, and exposing the other layers present in its creation, I am continuously investing in and discovering how users of blindness can enjoy this artform. To this end, I’ve created two different platforms that allow users of blindness to move and be moved by dance.
Mireia Varón Gallofré
ArtEZ University of the Arts
Bachelor Dance Artist
Over het initiatief / About the initiative
Optimizing the experience of dance for blind users
In welke fase zit jouw initiatief? / In what stage is your initiative?
Heb je jouw initiatief al gevalideerd? / Did you validate your initiative?
Thought the research I’ve took steps towards validating the accessibility and effectiveness of my initiatives. I’ve collaborated with organizations and individuals who work with or for users of blindness. By reaching out to organizations like Stichting KUBES (https://www.kubes.nl/), I’ve sought their cooperation and support in sharing my work for users of blindness. Most recently, I organized and curated an event at AMARE (Den Haag, NL), in association with this organization. This collaboration allowed me to connect with blind users, receive their feedback, and make the necessary adjustments to my research practices. Additionally, I’ve invited to my rehearsals professionals from the dance field who are busy with similar topics. They provided an external perspective and helped me improve the quality of the performance practices.
Meer informatie over jouw initiatief / More info about your initiative
In order to develop the two following platforms, I’ve collaborated with the Troffel Prize nominated choreographer Amit Palgi and with the multimedia artist/composer Pedro Latas.
The practices are the following:
AUDIO DESCRIPTION BASED ON AUDIO DESCRIPTION:
The practice of “Auteur Description” originates from France and is a technique originally created with artistic films in mind. The aim of this technique is to incorporate the maker’s creative vision into AD. I find this approach very relevant and well suited to my own views on the use of AD in dance, so I decided to transport this method from the screen to live performance.
I have discovered that close collaboration between the choreographer of the piece and the audio describer (myself), allows more freedom to explore the content of the performance within the AD itself. Working in this way yields space to wonder about the meanings and messages transmitted through the visual aesthetics of contemporary dance.
By using Audio Description based on Auteur Description in dance performances, I play with the magic of words and guide the audience composed by users of blindness though the story world created by the maker(s) and performer(s).
My aim within this practice is to remain loyal to the maker’s intention and the performance itself, while simultaneously developing my research further and bringing my own artistry to the process of creating the AD.
I’ve documented this research through various means. For a better understanding of what the work is and in what way it’s relevant to people with blindness gain, I invite you to immerse yourself in an interactive video of the piece 4/2/3 with Audio Description in which you, as an audience member, can choose how you want to perceive the piece. The interactive video was created to offer a wider understanding of visual impairments and demonstrate how different eye problems, such as cataract, retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, affect visual perception. The video serves as a representation of the research, allowing programmers and organizations to better comprehend the researcher’s work when seeking performance opportunities.
– MOVEMENT/SOUND PRACTICE WITH MOTION SENSOR TECHNOLOGY
This platform combines movement and sound using specific Motion Sensor Technology (Somi-1 and MYO bracelets), allowing blind users to receive immediate feedback through sound generated by their body movements.
This experiential practice aims to expand participants’ body awareness. They explore rhythm, dynamic, and different qualities of movement. By manifesting this somatic practice as an interconnected sound world, users of blindness are invited to dive into their inner movement journey as well as be in physical dialogue with one another.
In order to explore and develop this practice, I have collaborated with the multimedia artist and composer Pedro Latas. Though this research process we’ve engaged in improvisation sessions, defined tasks, and reflected on the outcomes to create a workshop that combines movement, sound, and technology.
Wat is er anders/nieuw aan jouw idee/oplossing t.o.v. bestaande oplossingen? / What is different/new about your idea/solution compared to existing solutions??
Overall, my research aims to make art more inclusive by developing accessible practices and collaborating with organizations and individuals with blindness.
I explored different dimensions of Audio Description and Motion Sensor Technology to enhance the experience of dance for users of blindness and create a better understanding among artists and audiences.
If we talk about the Audio Description for example, first I took an online course with Future Learn on how to make an Audio Description. Once I understood the mechanics, I analyzed which aspects from this platform worked for me and which ones I needed to adapt to create something artistically interesting while staying loyal to the purpose of this practice.
Thorough that, I came across the concept Audio Description based on Auteur Description and I brought it for the first time into a dance performance setting. This initiative allowed me to share with users of blindness the passion and knowledge I have to dance and frame it into a new alternative platform.
When talking about the Movement/Sound practice with Motion Sensor Technology. I used the power of collaboration and shared knowledge between music, dance, technology, and blind use to create a practice where all of them get intertwined and find common ground. With this new base, there is infinite possibilities for physical and digital connection and plenty of instant creativity among the participants.
I believe that during this journey I managed to understand closely and get familiar with previous researches and practices regarding similar topics as mine. With that, I push those boundaries and add my own artistry and the creativity that happened during all those collaborations, and offer to this wonderful community, a different approach to engaging with dance.
Wat zijn jouw volgende stappen om het verder te ontwikkelen? / What are your next steps to develop the initiative?
In order to bring this initiative to a further stage, I am planning on working towards several goals, those are the following:
- Continuously working on improving and enhancing the two platforms, Audio Description based on Auteur Description and Movement/Sound practice with Motion Sensor Technology. Keep actively searching for feedback from blind users, artists, and experts in the field to make necessary adjustments and make sure of their effectiveness.
- Strengthening my collaboration with organizations that work with or for users of blindness. Maintain close contact with these organizations to gain insights into the needs and preferences of blind users.
- Keep on organizing events for the workshops and performances to take place. With that, my aim is to provide hands-on experiences for blind users to engage with these platforms. Keep using the interactive video and the other documentation from the previous events to demonstrate the impact and possibilities of my research. Gather all this information on my website as a portfolio where people can access my work and raise awareness about the importance of accessibility in the arts.
- Seek collaborations with other artists and researchers to explore new possibilities for making the arts more accessible to everyone.
For now, I applied to a residency trajectory for young artists in which my aim is to combine both of the practices into a single experience. For that, I want to collaborate with a spoken word artist and with my college musician and composer, Pedro Latas.
My idea is to create a dance solo performance on myself in which the Motion Sensor Technology is present from the very first step of the creation process. Where music and sound hold hands as one complete outcome.
On top of that, the spoken word artist and myself will write the text regarding an Audio Description based on Auteur Description.
At the performance of this event, the audience, formed by people with blindness gain, will be guided through a Touch tour* followed by a workshop with Motion Sensor Technology. There, they will embody the most relevant movements/movement qualities and connect to their corresponding sound. My aim with this practice is to get them familiar with to the different intentions and textures of the performance, so that when the piece starts, they can connect to their own previous experience.
Once this workshop is finished, each audience member will receive a silent-disco headset with three different channels. Each channel will be independent, and they will be free to change from one to another throughout the whole performance.
One of the channels will narrate live the Audio Description based on Auteur Description of the piece. The second one will be connected to the sound generated through the Motion Sensor Technology, and the third one will have both elements simultaneously. With that, the wish is to give complete freedom to each audience member to perceive this art piece.
*Touch tour:a pre-show event in which audio describer users are invited on stage to explore a play’s set; costumes and props.
Wat heb je nodig om (nog meer) impact te maken met dit initiatief? / What do you need to make (more) impact with this initiative?
In order to make more impact with this initiative, my main goal is to continue investing in reaching out to organizations and platforms that specialize in accessibility, keep on collaborating with other artists, researchers who are interested in working in the field of art and inclusivity, and stay up to date with the latest advancements in technology, accessibility guidelines, and inclusive practices. By continuously learning and adapting my initiatives and being open to exploring new technologies, partnerships, and approaches, I believe that my initiative will keep on growing and hopefully moving more and more people.