The vision impaired dancers lit up the hall

Vision Impaired Dance Classes in Perth and Mandurah. It’s a Tuesday evening and ten amateur dancers have taken to the floor for a lively rumba in a sports hall in Perth. Paired with more experienced partners, these individuals are giddy with excitement, smiling and laughing. They are all beginners, so grip firmly to their partners who are guiding them, so they take the right footsteps.

This is ballroom dancing for the vision impaired. If you were ever in doubt that it wouldn’t be suitable for people with low vision, here’s your evidence to prove otherwise “I love it because it’s so energising, it lifts me,” explains Emma. “I always used to joke that you’d only see me on the dance floor after a few beers, but this will change that,” explains Simon. “You feel safe and secure having someone to guide you. I’m using my sense of touch, and that person is supportive, so it gives you greater confidence,” he adds.

Stepping out of the comfort zone

Vision Impaired Dance Classes in Perth and Mandurah is the brainchild of Darryl Davenport, a former Australian professional ballroom dancer who set up Ballroom Fit. The regular classes are held in a large hall at Perron Place, the home of VisAbility, which provides services to the vision impaired and people who are blind. Many of the participants are clients. Among those present include Rhian and Chris, a couple with hearing loss who are given extra support by an Auslan interpreter. There’s also Jessica Lovett who’s 24 and has Albinism. A ballroom dancer for more than a decade in her younger years, she gave it up as a teenager. “I’m so glad I’ve come back to it. I’m having fun and keeping fit at the same time.”

Darryl delivers all-inclusive dance

“I’ve been dancing since the age of seven. My mother was friendly with the lady next door. Her daughter was the same age and needed a dancing partner, so you can guess what happened. The match was made, but I already had an interest in dancing because my grandparents had been state champions.’’

Over the years Darryl had coached professional dancers, but it was his father’s death that made him change course.

“Like any new business venture, there’s a trigger. My dad was seriously ill. I saw the love and care given to him in his final years. I could see the difference that made. I thought I’d use my skills to help others and to give back.’’

He now teaches 120 people. Classes include wheelchair dancing, modern dancing for people with learning disabilities and the vision impaired class. Why do people enjoy it so much? “It offers a sense of overall well-being. Music is emotional which raises your spirits. It’s empowering to teach dance to people who have never experienced it before and dance is addictive,” he explains. “I’ll watch them get into the rhythm, and I’m hoping some people here will want to dance competitively. DanceSport is the national body for abled people which runs competitions for para-dance and all abilities.’’ From the box step of the rumba to the playful, vibrant tango and the graceful fall and rise of the waltz; these dancers are mesmerised and may well rise to that challenge.

Vision Impaired Dance Classes in Perth and Mandurah are offered by Ballroom Fit classes are held every Tuesday at VisAbility in Victoria Park in WA from 6 pm to 7 pm and every Wednesday at the Mandurah Bowling Club also from 6 pm to 7 pm. The cost is $17 per session. As a registered NDIS provider, the Ballroom Fit classes can also be funded through the Innovative Community Participation Program.

To find out more about the classes visit the Vision Impaired Dance Classes in Perth and Mandurah website: Ballroom Fit Vision Impaired.

For more information on dancing for people with a disability, we recommend you visit the website: Para and Ability Dance WA

Article by Sally Grandy

Ballroom Fit dancers share their stories with Ballroom Fit:

Blind dancer Emma

Deafblind dancer Deborah

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