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News / Announcements

Dark Room Ballet Introductory Classes for Blind and Visually Impaired Students — New Cycle Begins Saturday, April 9th

Beginning Saturday, April 9 from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM (Eastern / New York Time)   


NOTE: This class is designed specifically for the educational needs of blind and visually impaired people.

This is a FREE class!

Hosted by Movement Research, Dark Room Ballet classes are designed specifically for the educational needs of blind and visually impaired people.

About Saturday Introductory Level Class:

This class is suitable for people with no prior knowledge of ballet. This repeating series of eight classes introduces students to the most common ballet vocabulary that they would need to know in order to participate in Open Level Dark Room Ballet Class. The class introduces students to necessary anatomical concepts like turnout, torso stability, foot sensitivity and mobility, sightless balancing, and the use of a taped floor for orientation.

Classes take place each Saturday online via the Zoom platform; there is also the option to call in via phone.

Register:

To register, email: info@darkroomballet.com

You can also reach Dark Room Ballet by phone at (929) 367-0025


  • If you are a blind or visually impaired individual interested in learning ballet remotely, please get in touch before April 9, so you can be registered for this class. If you have already contacted us, we will get back to you as soon as we can!
    If you have some ballet experience, you may also qualify to join the ongoing Dark Room Ballet: Open Level Class on Monday nights; please contact us if you are interested.
  • Returning students are welcome to re-join intro level classes, as well as encouraged to join Dark Room Ballet: Open Level Class. Please let us know if you would like to re-join intro class as a returning student.
  • If you work with an organization that serves blind or visually impaired people, please share this information with people who may be interested in registering for this class.
  • If you are NOT a blind or visually impaired student, you may qualify to join the ongoing Dark Room Ballet: Open Level Class on Monday nights on a select basis; please get in touch with us to explain your interest.

Other Classes in the Dark Room

In addition to online Introductory and Open Level ballet classes for blind and visually impaired adults, Krishna often teaches workshops on related topics open to everyone, including anatomy, improvisation and audio description.

New workshop information will be available soon for upcoming summer and fall workshops; here are links to information on past online workshops: Dark Room Ballet Workshops

Categories
News / Announcements

COMING SOON: No Diagram Anatomy for Dancers in the Dark Room (March 19 and March 26)

Sponsored by Movement Research, these two workshops are a continuation of and makeup dates for workshops held last year in the anatomy series.

Like all current Dark Room Ballet classes, these workshops:

  • Will take place virtually using Zoom
  • Prioritize the educational needs of blind and visually impaired adults
  • Are free, especially for blind and visually impaired students
  • Are taught by Krishna Washburn, a blind professional dancer and dance teacher

Workshop dates:

  • The Complete Lower Body: from the soles of the feet to pelvis — Saturday, March 19 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM (Eastern / New York Time)
    The Complete Upper Body: from the fingertips to the crown — Saturday, March 26 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM (Eastern / New York Time)

You can participate in either or both workshops.

Our instructor Krishna says of the workshops:

These two workshops are meant to help participants cultivate deep levels of body awareness, to get to know and appreciate the unique features of their own anatomy, and to feel movement in a highly specific way that can then be described verbally (self-audio description). These workshops are an invitation to disabled dancers, especially blind and visually impaired dancers, who may have been denied important information about their own bodies, or who have been discouraged from trusting their own physical perceptions, to find certainty, confidence, and joy in movement. 

These two workshops are not fine-grain scientific anatomical analysis, but workshops that do deep dives regarding sensing highly specific anatomy on more targeted regions of the body will be coming up later this year (June: Pelvis, August: Foot, November: Neck)

To register:

Please write to: info@darkrooomballet.com

Please let us know which workshop you would like to attend…

If you are not blind or visually impaired, please let us know why you would like to attend these workshops…

If you are a current or returning Dark Room Ballet student who has already registered, you don’t have to write, but you can if you want to!

Please note:

These workshops are separate from Dark Room Ballet Introductory Level ballet classes for blind and visually impaired adults (which begin again on Saturday, April 9th) and Dark Room Ballet Open Level classes, which are ongoing and open for registration; please let us know if you are interested in either class so we can learn more about you as a potential new student.

Categories
News / Announcements

WORKSHOP: Self Audio-Description and the Motor Neuron: Learning How to Play Your Own Instrument, Wed. February 16th from 6 PM to 7 PM (Eastern Time)

Krishna Washburn of Dark Room Ballet will be sharing one of her popular anatomy and audio description workshops, this time sponsored by Hook & Loop out of Philadelphia (not Movement Research in NYC).

The Dark Room Ballet community and friends are invited — if you have participated in a version of this workshop before, please feel free to join again!

The workshop is free and will take place online; you must register directly with Hook & Loop to receive the Zoom information and recording after the event.

Description and RSVP link below.

Self Audio-Description and the Motor Neuron: Learning How to Play Your Own Instrument

Wednesday February 16th, 2022

6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Eastern Time


Facilitated by Krishna Washburn
Closed Captioning available

This workshop helps people to begin developing a self-audio description practice, in order to create movement art that connects with others on a visceral level. This workshop de-centers and de-prioritizes sight, and is appropriate for movers and dancers of all levels of experience or inexperience. Learn how to understand how movement feels in your body, and then practice talking about those feelings with others while also learning about the wonders of human anatomy.

By RSVP-ing you will receive the zoom link, full access information and a recording for this workshop. Recordings will be sent out by early March via Hook & Loop.

Please fill out this form to RSVP: Self Audio-Description and the Motor Neuron: Learning How to Play Your Own Instrument

Please send email to hookandloopphl@gmail.com with any questions.

Categories
News / Announcements

What Blindness Brings to Art: a conversation with blind and visually impaired movement artists

A virtual event on Friday February 4

Hook & Loop is a Philly-based accessible artist collective led by people identifying as Disabled, chronically ill, or on the disabled spectrum which create accessible spaces, creative practices and interdisciplinary events to be experienced by everyone.

As part of the “Fractals” series, Krishna Washburn will be participating in a virtual event…


Facilitated by K. Hamilton Projects via Hook & Loop:

What Blindness Brings to Art: a conversation with blind and visually impaired movement artists

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 4, 2022

2 PM to 3 PM Eastern Time (podcast screening to follow until 4 PM)

Featuring: Kayla Hamilton, Christopher Unpezverde Núñez, iele paloumpis & Krishna Washburn

Full Program Information for all events in this series: HOOK & LOOP Fractals Program

To RSVP for this event, please fill out this form and select the February 4th event: HOOK & LOOP Virtual Event Series RSVP

Categories
News / Announcements

Dark Room Ballet Introductory Classes for Blind and Visually Impaired Students — New Cycle Begins Saturday, January 22! (and other classes available)

Beginning Saturday, January 22 from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM (Eastern / New York Time)   


NOTE: This class is designed specifically for the educational needs of blind and visually impaired people.

This is a FREE class!

Hosted by Movement Research, Dark Room Ballet classes are designed specifically for the educational needs of blind and visually impaired people.

About Saturday Introductory Level Class:

This class is suitable for people with no prior knowledge of ballet. This repeating series of eight classes introduces students to the most common ballet vocabulary that they would need to know in order to participate in Open Level Dark Room Ballet Class. The class introduces students to necessary anatomical concepts like turnout, torso stability, foot sensitivity and mobility, sightless balancing, and the use of a taped floor for orientation.

Classes take place each Saturday online via the Zoom platform; there is also the option to call in via phone.

Register:
To register, email: Dark Room Ballet: Open Level Class on Monday nights; please contact us if you are interested.

  • Returning students are welcome to re-join intro level classes, as well as encouraged to join Dark Room Ballet: Open Level Class. Please let us know if you would like to re-join intro class as a returning student.
  • If you work with an organization that serves blind or visually impaired people, please share this information with people who may be interested in registering for this class.
  • If you are NOT a blind or visually impaired student, you may qualify to join the ongoing Dark Room Ballet: Open Level Class on Monday nights on a select basis; please get in touch with us to explain your interest.
  • Other Classes in the Dark Room!

    • Saturday, March 19, 2022 and Saturday, March 26, 2022 are the make-up dates for No Diagram Anatomy for Dancers in the Dark Room, an interactive dancers’ anatomy course that de-centers sight, and will cover the complete lower body and complete upper body, respectively.

    We look forward to hearing from you soon!

    Care about audio description and supporting dance art for blind and visually impaired people? Check out Telephone and Telephone Ko-Fi.

    Categories
    News / Announcements

    Support the Telephone Film and Dark Room Ballet on #GivingTuesday!

    Cyber Monday is coming to a close, which means that tomorrow is Giving Tuesday!

    You may have heard about the Telephone Film project before. 

    If you haven’t, here is some more info:

    The first of its kind, Telephone is a work-in-progress short film bringing awareness to the important art form of audio description (AD) for dance. Audio description allows blind and visually impaired people to be included fully in the joy of artistic expression.

    Co-directed by Dark Room Ballet founder Krishna Washburn and choreographer Heather Shaw, Telephone is the first screendance film created specifically with a visually impaired audience in mind, while facilitating an immersive sensory experience for audience members of all sight levels.

    Created during the global pandemic, the film features diverse disabled and non-disabled artists from across the globe, demystifying and legitimizing AD, not just as an access tool, but as a beautiful, rich art form in its own right.

    Telephone is at the forefront of a completely new approach to audio description. Most of what is considered “best practice” for AD is meant for television or film. A neutral AD voice describes the visuals and does not express emotional content. In television and film, the performers’ voices (layered over the AD) inform the audience of the emotional themes. However, in dance, performers rarely speak. Is the neutral AD voice really the best choice for dance? How do those listening to the AD connect with the emotional content of the performance?

    The audio describers of Telephone are reshaping the world’s perception of AD, adding emotional context and allowing their words to dance in the same way a dancer’s body moves. The result is a beautiful merge of poetry and movement, proving that:

    Dance is visceral – not merely visual.

    Telephone Film is in the post-production stage, and is just $600 away from being able to meet a minimum goal to pay for editing and accessibility services.

    You can help!

    Interested in making a one-time donation? You can do so on Ko-Fi.

    Interested in Dark Room Ballet Merchandise in support of Telephone? Limited quantity tote bags* are available at the following links: Air Between My Vertebrae, Fingers Awake and Alive, and Heels like Magnets.

    Watch the Telephone film trailer (with credits and expanded description)… and then, do the Telephone Rock!

    (The Telephone Rock is a Sesame Street video from 1977 with Muppets singing in and around a telephone booth… remember those? The lyrics are available here.)

    Thanks, as always, for supporting the missions of Dark Room Ballet and the Telephone Film!

    Categories
    News / Announcements

    WORKSHOP: No Diagram Anatomy for Dancers in the Dark Room (beginning November 13)

    Dark Room Ballet presents:

    Image Description: This is a black vinyl tote bag. On the
    front of the bag, there is an orange square that frames the words in all
    caps: AIR BETWEEN MY VERTEBRAE. Right underneath the words, there is an
    image of part of a curving spine. The square, words, and spine detail
    are made of an orange, flock vinyl material that has a soft velvet,
    fuzzy feel.

    No Diagram Anatomy for Dancers in the Dark Room

    Note: Dark Room Ballet classes prioritize the educational needs of blind and visually impaired students, but anatomy workshops are open to all.

    Sponsored by Movement Research

    This is a series of 5 individual workshops held online via Zoom beginning Saturday, November 13, 2021.

    All workshops take place on Saturdays, from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM (Eastern/New York Time)

    (no class November 27, 2021)

    Students can take the complete series of 5 classes, or attend individual sessions as fits their schedule.

    Class Description:

    1. Planes and Chains: how the body relates to space, surfaces, directions, and itself (November 13)
    2. Biomechanics 101: How every single joint in the body operates (November 20)
    3. The Spine and its Supports: when people talk about the core, this is what they mean (Rescheduled to December 11)
    4. Motor Neuron Function and Human Variation: Learning How to Play Your Own Instrument (December 18)

    Please note: The Complete Lower Body workshops have been rescheduled and will be taught in 2022.

    Dates to be announced soon.

    To register:

     email: info@darkroomballet.com

    And please let us know which/how many of the workshops you would like to participate in.

    You can also let us know more about your interest in taking classes with Dark Room Ballet.

    Please note:

    This workshop series is separate from other class offerings; please contact us if you are also interested in:



    Categories
    Krishna's Thoughts

    Krishna’s Mailbag #3 – What is an Open Level Class?

    AUDIO: Another installment of Krishna’s mailbag, where Krishna’s talks about what an Open Level ballet class is, and the differences between other dance class levels. (on SoundCloud)

    Transcript:

    Hello, everybody. This is Krishna, your Dark Room Ballet teacher, back at it again with another Dark Room Ballet mailbag. It’s Krishna’s Mailbag time! Let’s rustle in that mailbag and find if we have any interesting messages today. Oh, this one is really great.

    It is, “Hi, Krishna. I have a question about ballet class levels. What is an open-level class, and what do the other ballet class levels that I sometimes find mean?” Okay. So, this is a really important question, and it’s going to help me explain explicitly what Dark Room Ballet open-level class is in depth because I think that I have never actually really explained what it is exactly. So let’s get into what ballet class levels that you might find at different studios and institutions that you might encounter. What do they mean?

    Okay. Let’s start with some of the most common labels that you might encounter. You might encounter a class that is labeled as Beginning Ballet. What does that mean? You might think, “Oh, this is the class that you take if you haven’t taken ballet before.” Au contraire, in New York City and throughout most other major cities in the United States, when a class is labeled as a beginning ballet class, that actually means that you have probably studied either as an adult for about two or three years or that you studied when you were a kid for maybe about five or six years, and maybe you have not studied in a while, and you are returning to class.

    A beginning ballet class assumes that you have actually a considerable amount of prior knowledge relating to ballet. The most common kind of person that you will see sign up for a beginning ballet class is someone who studied ballet as a kid, did not dance for a long time, and now wants to refresh and relearn those movement concepts. They’re all kind of in the back files of their memory banks, and they need a place to go bring them back to the front of their minds.

    If you don’t have any ballet experience, what are the labels you should be looking for? There are two that exist in New York and most other American cities. One is absolute beginner and the other is intro. That’s why Dark Room Ballet’s intro class exists. It is a class that is designed that assumes no prior knowledge of dance at all. Absolute beginner and intro classes are typically given as multi-week or multi-class workshops. They are generally taught in a sequence, and they are generally not an ongoing class. They tend to be for a limited amount of time. It’s to get people their basic knowledge. Now, another word that you might find describing a ballet class is “basic.” Basic ballet class is actually that in-between class between an intro class and a beginning level class. Sometimes adults who are studying for the first time who have completed an absolute beginner or an intro level class will take a year or so of basic before they move on to beginner.

    Now, there are also classes called pro. What is a pro class? A pro class is not really a place for study. It serves a very specific function, which is to prepare people who are working dancers, professional dancers for whatever is that they’re going to be doing for the rest of the day, whether that is a rehearsal day or whether that is a performance day. So you will see pro classes offered at about two times during the day usually in the morning at about 10:00. That’s for people who have a rehearsal day, and also in the afternoon at about 2:00. Those are for performers who are having a performance day and who generally have like 5:00 PM call time at their performance venue. That is across the board for ballet and also probably contemporary and jazz classes as well.

    Pro classes, in general, the teacher does not demonstrate. What the teacher does is yell a bunch of vocabulary words at the class, and those folks know how to memorize and interpret those movements without having someone demonstrate for them. They will just know. If the teacher yells out, “Okay. Sissonne failli. Tombe pas de bourrée. Coupé. Pas jeté. Tour jeté. Pique step. Couru. Tours en l’air. Single tours en l’air. Double.” They’ll just know what that means and then what to do, and they won’t forget it because it’s their job to know.

    Pro classes are typically very quick tempo. The movement is very, very light. It does not bend into the muscles that much because it’s just there to get those dancers warmed up and ready for other exertion later that day. That’s what happens in pro class. I actually love pro class. I’d take pro class all the time. Sometimes with a Katy Pyle of Ballez. Sometimes with Igal Perry at Peridance. It all depends on my mood. Pro class is great for if you are a professional working dancer and are going to be dancing for the rest of the day, and you just need something to get all the joints working properly.

    Now, there’s also classes that are labeled different kinds of intermediate. Like you’ll see intermediate, beginning intermediate, slow intermediate, advanced intermediate, intermediate advanced. All these kinds of things that include the word “intermediate.” What is that all about? I think that that term is really confusing, and it really does not describe what those classes are because there’s really essentially two types of intermediate class. There’s one that I call the pre-professional class. That’s really what most intermediate classes are. They’re pre-professional classes. They are there for people who are planning to have a career as a performer and who need to develop specific performance-based skills. So that means they need to learn how to memorize longer dance combinations. They need to know how to do more challenging and complex transitions between movements that they learned earlier on in their lives. It’s generally not a place where you’re going to be encountering new vocabulary, new concepts, and things like that.

    There’s another kind of intermediate class, which is not really that. It is more whatever that teacher feels like teaching. There are some teachers who just slap the label “intermediate” on their class because they don’t know what else to do, and it’s more a class where, “This is the kind of class I enjoy teaching. I don’t think about difficulty. I don’t think about level. I just like teaching this kind of material.” Those types of classes, they tend to have pretty loyal student followings because it tends to be students who really enjoy the particular style of that teacher for whatever reason.

    So those are the two types of intermediate classes that you might come across. Then, there are open-level classes. What is that? Now, if you call a dance studio up on the phone and you said, “What does that mean, open-level class?” What you’ll get back from the person answering the phone is, “Well, this class is for everybody.” Now, that’s a very confusing idea to a lot of people. “What do you mean this class is for everybody? What is actually going in on there? There’s people who have a lot of experience. There’s people who have only a little bit of experience. What is that all about? What is an open-level class?”

    Let me tell you something. Whether you’re studying ballet, jazz, contemporary, any style, open-level classes are cool. Open-level classes are cool because what those teachers who teach open-level classes, myself included, tend to do in order to create an environment where there is many, many levels of dancers, and everybody is learning new things, and having fun, and experimenting, and trying new stuff is they do what’s called unit-based work. Sometimes a teacher will come up with a unit-based on a movement concept. That movement concept might be a body movement. A simple thing like right now, I am teaching a unit on frappé. That means I start the unit from zero knowledge. “Okay. This is the movement. We start from the very beginning.”

    Then, as the weeks progress in the unit, whether that unit goes on for eight weeks, 16 weeks, something like that, we try different permutations, different styles, and increase in difficulty level throughout the unit. Then, when that unit wraps up, we put it on the shelf. A few months later, maybe a year later, the teacher returns to that unit and starts the cycle over again. We start from zero, no prior knowledge and moving through the weeks. Each week, more challenge, a little bit different, a little bit more complicated.

    At any given time, a unit-based class might have six concepts that that teacher is rotating through. I’m going to be honest. Dark Room Ballet is generally using about 15 or 18 concepts in unit, and they’re all at different points throughout the class. It is so much fun to program a unit-based class because you’re always moving through these different cycles of concepts, putting stuff on the shelf, coming back to it, moving through different ideas. If your students come regularly, they’ll get to cycle through those things again and again as they study. They will always be continually reminded of their fundamentals, helped through to the next level of their study each time they touch upon it, and you’re never ever bored in open-level class.

    So let’s say you’re a relatively new student, and you just went through a unit in an open-level class, and you’re like, “Holy cow, that got fast really quickly. My first day, I was hanging in there, but man, second time, that was hard. That was too much for my brain.” Don’t worry. It’s supposed to be like that. The next time that unit comes around, you’re going to be shocked at, A, how much you remember and B, how much farther along in the unit you go feeling calm and confident before you’re like, “Whoa, this is amazingly challenging.”

    That’s what makes open-level classes fun and sustainable environments to help serve students all throughout their dancing careers. I have belonged to certain open-level classes for six years, seven years, eight years. There are some open-level classes that I’m probably going to continue to take as long as that teacher is teaching because there’s always experiments, and fun and interesting things going on. There’s always parts of class that are returned to basic fundamental ideas. There’s always parts of class that are a real stretch for me, that I’m really moving into material that is a real challenge, that’s very new.

    It’s always a mix of ideas flowing through in and out. You’re always going to be interested in an open-level class. So if there’s ever an open-level class at a different studio or institution that you’d like to try, don’t be afraid of that label. Don’t feel like, “Well, I don’t know what that means,” because now you do. Open-level classes are great. They are cyclical, and if you hang out there for a long time, you know that you’re going to be reminded, and refreshed, and always moving through material that is designed to help you progress, and learn, and develop over time as a dancer. I hope all of you have a lovely day today, and I hope that this mailbag was interesting to you. Much love to you all. Bye, now!

    Categories
    News / Announcements

    Gratitude in the Dark Room: A Collective Dance Improvisation with Krishna Washburn and jill sigman/thinkdance Saturday, July 3rd, 4 PM to 5:30 PM (EDT)

    SPECIAL CLASS


    [Virtual] Gratitude in the Dark Room:
    A Collective Dance Improvisation with Krishna Washburn and jill sigman/thinkdance


    Saturday, July 3
    4 PM to 5:30 PM EDT
    on Zoom

    Dark Room Ballet (sponsored by Movement Research) joins jill sigman/thinkdance in NYC to participate in a special, international collective dance improvisation initiated and conceived by Belgian dance artist, Ann Cailliau.

    On July 3, dancers in multiple locations and multiple countries will be taking time to use movement to express gratitude and connection through movement and orientation in space. jill sigman/thinkdance will be hosting a live outdoor event in Riverside Park in New York City simultaneously with this online workshop.

    No experience in improvisational dance is needed to participate. The whole event is designed for the educational needs of blind and visually impaired people, and participants are encouraged to unmute, ask questions, and self-describe throughout the event.

    Infinite gratitude for our collective wisdom, our collective knowledge!

    Register:

    To register, email: info@darkroomballet.com

    Categories
    News / Announcements

    Dark Room Ballet at CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS: DISABILITY, AGING AND ACCESSIBILITY (Thursday, June 24 at 6 PM Eastern Time)

    CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS: DISABILITY, AGING AND ACCESSIBILITY

    Thursday June 24, 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM (Eastern Time)

    sponsored by the Queens Council on the Arts

    Flyer for the event which is described right below...
    Event flyer with a photo taking up the top two thirds of the flyer and text in the bottom third. The top 2 thirds of the square shows an image of a black artist with an intellectual disability, squirting a paint bottle directly onto a canvas. With a black sweater thrown over his shoulder, brushes and bottles sit on a cart to his right, with framed colorful prints stacked vertically and neatly on a wall directly behind him. On the bottom third of the flyer, a solid yellow-orange color serves as the background for thick black lettering that reads “Creative Conversations.” Beneath this title, the subtitle reads, Disability, Aging and Accessibility, Thursday, 6.24, 6:00 – 7:30pm. Image by Daniel Tardif

    This session invites local artists and community members of all abilities to discuss issues pertaining to creative aging and disability. Worldwide, persons with disabilities represent 15% of the population; in the five boroughs, there are almost 1 million people with disabilities. Additionally, in Queens, the number of older adults has grown significantly in the last 5 years – many with limited access to cultural services.

    This session will feature the work of local artists with disabilities, including Krishna Washburn and Alejandra Ospina of Dark Room Ballet as well as representatives from Queens senior centers and the AHRC. The group will then be invited to discuss the intersectionality of aging and accessibility by exploring the following questions:

    • In what ways do the needs of persons with disabilities and seniors overlap, and in what ways do they differ?
    • What are some examples of accessible design that can benefit everyone?
    • As creators and artists, how can we be more inclusive to all communities including people with disabilities and older adults?

    This event is held in partnership with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. The conversation will be moderated by Walei Sabry, Digital Accessibility Coordinator at the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

    To register and join on Zoom:

    https://www.queenscouncilarts.org/calendar/2021/6/9/creative-conversations-aging-and-accessibility