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Blind Dance Company allows non-sighted performers to showcase their talents

Manny Otiko | 8/17/2017, midnight
The newly-formed Blind Dance Company recently gave its first show on Aug. 12 at the Lazarus Experience in downtown Los ...
Professional dancer and choreographer Hydeia Muhammad rehearses with Blind Dance Company members Ronald Chism, Natalie Gross, Kenny Lee, and Sylvia Taylor. (Photo by Shari Barrett)

The newly-formed Blind Dance Company recently gave its first show on Aug. 12 at the Lazarus Experience in downtown Los Angeles. The Dance Company is made entirely of blind or sight-impaired dancers. According to Hydeia Muhammad, director and choreographer, the show which is titled “Emotions,” featured a diverse collection of dance styles including hip hop, contemporary, salsa and ballroom.

Muhammad, who is a professional dancer and dance teacher, said she got involved with the Blind Dance Company after, Greg Shane, cofounder of CRE Outreach, told her about a theater production performed by blind actors.

“Theatre by the Blind” is sponsored by CRE Outreach, a non-profit organization that works with underserved individuals in Los Angeles. Some of CRE Outreach clients include veterans, at-risk youth and the blind. CRE Outreach uses the creative arts to help boost people’s self-esteem, and encourage self expression. CRE Outreach also supports several other creative arts programs such as Creative Youth Theatre and Veterans Empowerment Theatre.

Matthew Saracho, who participated in a Theatre by the Blind production, had great things to say about his experience.

“I have no doubt in my mind that the show in October will touch hearts and change lives forever. Once the people take their seats for the show, I have great faith that they will see just exactly what we’re truly made of. We’re not a bunch of lonesome beggars out on the streets digging for our dinner. We are a lot like you,” said Saracho.

Muhammad said there was a surprising amount of interest, when the Blind Dance Company started recruiting dancers. Twenty-two visually-impaired dancers showed up for the audition and that number was eventually pared down to the seven dancers who appear in the show.

The dancers prepared hard for the show, practicing three times a week. Muhammad said she was pleasantly surprised at how easy the dancers were to work with.

“They learn faster than my sighted dancers,” said Muhammad. “They have to pay extra attention.”

Natalie Gross is one of the visually-impaired dancers who appears in “Emotions.” Gross, who has a background in cheerleading and dance, started losing her sight about 10 years ago. But she is excited at the ability to showcase her talent.

“It’s an opportunity to show what blind people are capable of,” said Gross.”I want to show we can do anything.”

For more information about the show go to: www.creoutreach.org/box-office/upcoming-events/