Dance Study: Chanté S. Rowe

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Dancer: Chanté S. Rowe
Assisted By: I’ola and Wendy Hobbie

Although my sight was taken away, it added more to this shoot in my opinion. It added vulnerability. I really needed to feel my way around things and trust myself and my surroundings. I had to trust that whatever I was holding onto was strong enough to support me. —Chanté S. Rowe

From watching dancers perform and practice, I’ve discovered that they normally rely on their vision to help them get around on their toes. Their vision helps with knowing where to land after a jump, with paying attention to their form, with seeing how much room they have to dance and move around. But what happens when you take away the sense of sight? Are they able to get around as agile as they were when they had sight? Will it take them longer to get into poses and positions? Will they bump into things? Lol. I wanted to have these answered in the form of doing this study and capture it via camera.

Armed with assistants, Chanté was ready to tackle this challenge, blindfold and all. At first the session started off like any other session, with mostly the dancer going into a series of poses (or sometimes a series of moves), but I’ola jumped in and walked and talked her through what she should be doing. Her vision had been taken away, so she should have been using the other four senses as opposed to operating like she still had the fifth one. She had to now feel her way through the sequences of poses and moves. After I’ola set the tone and the mood the images were coming out much better.

After the session I chatted with Chanté about what the experience was like, and once again, the word vulnerability came up again. She felt more vulnerable doing this session than any other session we’ve done to date. Since she couldn’t trust her eye sight because of the blindfold, she now had to rely on other things to help her get into positions, poses, and sequence of moves. I might continue doing some studying on the concept and definition of vulnerability and see why it is that it keeps coming up some of my sessions. But know this, this session won’t be the last time I visit this idea of being blind in dance; I want to push the idea further along and see what I come up with.

PS: I couldn’t come to bring myself to convert the last image of this set to black and white. I don’t know why, lol!

[JRP ’13]

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