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Tuesday, 26 March 2019 03:46 am

Blind patrons catered for at Nutcracker performances

Oct 16th, 2018 | By | Category: Latest News, News

Ballet for the blind was such a success the first time that the Royal New Zealand Ballet is doing it again .

Trained audio describers will provide live narration for blind audiences during the performance of the Nutcracker, currently showing in Wellington.

Pascale Parenteau, education and community manager for the ballet says she became aware of issues around accessible theatre when representing ballet at Arts for All, a network devoted to increasing access to the arts.

Many disabled patrons can’t access the physical space of a venue while others with visual impairments may not get the full picture because of gaps between dialogue where action is taking place.

“Dance is one of the biggest challenges because it is totally visual,” Ms Parenteau says

She contacted Nicola Owen of Audio Described Aotearoa who took up the challenge.

They started with last year’s Romeo and Juliet.

“You can’t go wrong with Shakespeare, and most people are familiar with the story.” Parenteau says.

Feedback on last year’s audio description was positive and tickets are selling out for this year’s Nutcracker.

But the audio commentary goes beyond describing toe shoes and tutus.

Ms Owen says pre-performance tours and workshops give the blind patrons the opportunity to touch the costumes and stage props.

They even learn some dance moves.

“Blind patrons can come and learn a little bit about how to do an Arabesque, pirouette, or plie and all those ballet terms.

“So, when we use them in our script, they know what that entails.”

Ms Parenteau says her goal is to make ballet something blind patrons will want to attend.


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