Link December 2018 Volume 27 Issue 6 - Page 31

Dancing without sight By Anthea Skinner Dance and circus company Blindful has had a busy year. It has performed at festivals around the country, completed its first Abbie Madden (centre) with Romain Hassanin and Ryan Darwin. international tour to New Zealand and won the Best have varying degrees of what they Emerging Producer Award can see and experience,” she said. Blindful’s performances aim the blindfolds, essentially I am no at the Melbourne Fringe. to explore the ways that vision and eyesight impact on movement and dance. The company’s founder and artistic director, Abbie Madden spoke to Link about her work. B lindful’s performers include Abbie, who is vision impaired, and two sighted dancers, Ryan Darwin and Romain Hassanin. “We actually all wear the blindfolds throughout the show,” Abbie said. “I wanted to level the playing field, so we are all working without any sight.” It was important to Abbie that “We take all of that away using Using movement, Blindful’s performers are able to explore space beyond the confines of vision. “I think seeing less of the outside better off than Ryan or Romain. and what you look like as a dancer I think the only difference was I was means you instinctively focus on the more comfortable sooner with not inside and how things feel – which is having any sight. way more useful and important; ask “I wasn’t really able to offer them most dancers and they’ll talk about advice … more so time to adjust and what something feels like. This is where get used to working blindfolded. We we have the advantage,” she said. all had to figure it out for ourselves as Far from letting her vision we all have different ways of working impairment negatively affect and handling the lack of sight.” her dancing, through Blindful, Abbie first developed the idea of exploring the effect of eyesight on movement while she was working Abbie is showing that it can actually be a strength. “As I’ve been visually impaired with dance company ‘ponydance’ for my whole life and danced in the UK. essentially my whole life too, they’ve “I’m a restless person. I always need to be busy doing something,” she said. “While I was in the UK and gone hand in hand I don’t know one without the other,” she said. “I don’t think I ever thought I couldn’t be a dancer because of working for ponydance we had my eyes, it was always because of she also wore a blindfold, removing big gaps of time where we weren’t other things like ‘am I being creative her reliance on her residual sight. rehearsing. I figured the best way to enough?’, ‘am I flexible enough?’ – all “Something people don’t keep dancing was to make my own the other self-confidence issues that realise is that very few people are works and performances, so I every dancer has.” completely lacking in sight, people started Blindful.” linkonline.com.au www.blindful.com arts 31