[nabs-l] dance lessons and recreation

Jamie Principato blackbyrdfly at gmail.com
Mon Dec 22 04:06:53 UTC 2008


I'm not sure if you can change their mind without actually going ahead and
doing it. If you were raised in the way you described (and I know you're not
alone there), I imagine your parents are fairly set in their ways and their
ideas of what blind people can or cannot do. Don't let this stop you from
giving it a try though. Once you do it, your mom will come around.

When I was a kid, I was reasonably active, but it always took a lot of
convincing to get my parents, especially my over-protective dad to let me
try out my crazy ideas. One in particular that really got my mom worrying
was fencing. I heard about it at a medieval fair we went to and I wanted to
try it so so so badly. She didn't think I'd be able to do it safely or
without making a fool of myself and wasting money, but she agreed to take me
to a free trial class and see what the instructors think after we give it a
try. The beginner classes are run, in a way, like dance classes. After we
stretch and warm up a bit, everyone lines up in two lines at one end of the
gym and our coach stands a few feet in front of us and we run through
movement drills. If there's a new move he wants us to learn, he tells us the
name, explains when it should be used, shows us how it's done by example and
adds it into the drill. During drills, he would sometimes be nonverbal and
just do the movements ahead of us and have us copy him, but when I started
he found that it actually helped everyone if he said the names of the moves
as well ("Advance!" "Retreat!" "Lunge!") Also, when teaching a new move, he
would always show it to the group first, then come over to me and show me up
close and more physically. When we did blade practice (Fencing is sword
fighting, by the way), it had to be one on one for everyone. He'd take us in
small groups based on ability and explain what he was going to teach, then
work with us one at a time, one after the other on the move. THis was great
for me because I could get the one on one I needed (him moving my blade and
my arm to physically take me through the motions of a move, slow paced
practice sparring with him until I can get it up to speed, etc) without
having to be segregated from the group as a whole. We did work out some
blade techniques that were specific to my needs since I can't really see
where my opponent's blade is, and we did that privately, but that was about
it. When we did drills with a partner, I would usually try to pair myself
with a more advanced fencer who knows what they're doing and can help me if
I need it, at least in the beginning. And when we would actually have bouts
(Two fencers would get up to fight and the rest of us would gather around,
watch, and analyze so that everyone learns) the coach was very very
descriptive and encouraged everyone who took a turn analyzing a move to do
the same. This was great for me, and great for everyone else as well because
they had to pay more attention than they would otherwise. When it was my
turn to fight, I wasn't worried because I had good, well-accomodated
training beforehand.

Talk to your instructor before classes begin. Recreational dance teachers
aren't like school gym teachers. They're usually doing it because they like
it and want to do it, and they certainly want your business so it's unlikely
she'll just tell you to go find some other hobby. You can work together and
try to think of reasonable accomodations that will make it fun and doable.
Good luck!

On Sun, Dec 21, 2008 at 8:49 PM, Ashley Bramlett
<bookwormahb at earthlink.net>wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> Its gotten quiet.  I hope everyone is home relaxing after finals and
> getting ready for the holidays.
>
> Have any of you taken dance?  Private or class?  What accomodations did you
> use?  Its usually taught visually by demonstration.  If you regularly do a
> active recreation  activity or did growing up, it would be interesting to
> hear.  Growing up, unfortunately, I did not engage in much physical activity
> for recreation.  I guess my parents did not think I could participate in
> much.
> I did activities that were not physical like piano lessons.  The extent of
> my activity was my swing set.
>
> Now I want to take ballroom dance as a class.  Know what?  My mother does
> not think its doable.  She does not think they will be able to show me
> what's happening.  I want to try and see what happens.  Its at a recreation
> center and I have every right to participate if i pay money.  I don't know
> how to change their minds.  Any thoughts or experiences are appreciated.
>
> Ashley
> Ashley H Bramlett
> Undergraduate Student
> Marymount University
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