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Blog: “Dancing has increased my confidence”

Activity Alliance features a blog post every Friday. This year we have been sharing experiences of disabled people involved in sport and exercise at all levels. Today, we continue this theme and hear from Fiona Musgrove, who recently joined Step Change Studios’ first ballroom and Latin dance programme for people with visual impairments, in partnership with London Vision. She tells us how dancing has enabled her to take steps in boosting her confidence.

Fiona with dance partner at Step Change Studios

Hi, my name is Fiona, I’m a dancer and I’m registered blind.

I’ve always loved dancing. I love the feeling that music gives to dance, and having the confidence to dance alone or with a partner is so good. That’s why I love dancing at Step Change Studios’ dance classes – I feel they have embraced this spirit with direction and use of timing, to achieve dramatic moves with a partner.

I think sometimes women feel a bit vulnerable with a partner at first but these classes have increased my confidence to be able to share moves with a partner in a safe environment.

Dancing really supports me in my daily life as it increases my self-esteem and confidence. I tend to use some of the warm up routines in my own blind coaching warm up sessions, and my clients really enjoy them. I also listen to music differently and wonder what sort of dance moves would suit that piece. I’ve also found that music really engages other visually impaired people to think about trying dance classes too.

When I take part in dance I can feel a bit nervous at first because I think I cannot get the steps right. However, as we constantly move from partner to partner I learn from them and sometimes they learn from me. The experience is shared within the group and no-one is left feeling inadequate. For example, when dancing with a less confident partner and they suddenly get the movements I joke “by Jove he’s got it” and it breaks the tension immediately.

The support I get from the group is crucial for me to learn. The change of partners throughout the class allows the more confident dancers to engage with less confident dancers. As many of us can’t see the teacher’s moving feet, it is very much left to hearing her descriptions of movement. This is then further realised when putting the moves into action and learning with others. There’s also the social element as after the session we all get together for a drink. This part is really important to me as it creates a very social environment for those of us who can often feel lonely or isolated in our everyday lives.

The rest of the year will see me learning ballet and trying out blind tennis. My goal is to develop my dance skills and perhaps relate them back to modern music and see how these steps are used in musicals.

My advice to other people with a visual impairment who are thinking about being active and taking up dance but not sure where to start is – become more active because in my opinion this community is often less likely to engage in regular exercise. Just try out a variety of activities, this will help you find out what best suits you and what you most enjoy.

Step Change Studios is an inclusive dance company committed to enabling everyone to dance. If you are interested in joining the next term of ballroom and Latin dance for people with a visual impairment, starting in September, email Rashmi Becker or call her on: 07976 363861

Visit the Step Change Studio website to find out more. You can also keep up-to-date on latest news via their Twitter page @Step_Change.