What Does Dark Room Ballet Mean?

One of the most common questions that people have asked me is why I have chosen to call my class Dark Room Ballet. This name has a lot of layers of meaning for me, and I have always called all of my own artistic projects Dark Room.

When people talk about a photographer’s dark room, they are describing a place where chemical reactions happen, where things develop. To me, a dancer, the Dark Room has been the place where I develop, where I give myself the time to change, grow, experiment, and learn. This is the place that I welcome other Blind and Visually Impaired dancers to do the same, to allow chemical changes to happen, to cultivate our neurology, and to trust our physical bodies as they are.

There are two other ways in which I think about the Dark Room that relate specifically to the Blind or Visually Impaired dancer. The first is my own history with photosensitivity, especially early on in my vision loss journey, and the need I had for low lighting in order to concentrate and feel comfortable in motion. I always encourage my students to make their dance spaces comfortable, familiar, functional, and to let dancing time feel like relief. The last way I think about the Dark Room is extremely personal and relates directly to my own history of vision loss, which was the strange illusion I felt that my own body had become a Dark Room. This place was, at first, unfamiliar and frightening, but as I adapted to it, I became the bravest version of myself that I could have ever hoped to have been. I live in a biological Dark Room, and here is where I dance, joyfully, fearlessly, always growing, free from the judgment of others and free from my own judgment.

I firmly believe that the Blind or Visually Impaired dancer is extremely special and especially beautiful. We learn to trust our bodies and understand how they work from the inside. This is not mirror ballet, this is floor ballet, this is electric ballet. We can develop a unique, deep relationship with music. We can rebel against society’s expectations and use our bodies to communicate, express emotion, create art, and project confidence. Let’s dance in the Dark Room together, dancing for ourselves and for each other.