TILBURG – Last Friday marked the premiere of a performance called “HEAR me to SEE you”, an interactive performance involving dance, music and audience participation. This performance, created by the Aruban composer Xavier Geerman and the Greek choreographer Vicky Angelidou, began as an experiment to learn more about the disabilities of being blind or deaf. They wondered about what their lives as performers would be like if they had this disability. They spent a month together, practicing either with a blindfold on or having ear protectors on to try to inhibit their sight or hearing. This was done so that they can research the changes that this will bring to their performance. In this process they also had to find a way to interact with each other, and also with the other people/audiences that are blind or deaf.

A part from having a successful first performance, this project received a visit from a blind person.Mirjam Damstra-Boon has been legally blind since her 17th birthday. At the age of 23 she only had 10% sight left and later even less. Her vision (as she describes it) is that of looking at a television that is set to static noise while having colored lines going across it. Her presence at the performance was meaningful to the blindfolded audience since everything that they had experienced could be directly asked and confirmed by Mirjam. For her it felt like any other day, hearing the sounds of the train and the fireworks (which were sounds from the outside that most participants didn’t notice) while hearing the sounds of the performance.

They also received a visit from Jofke van Loon, artist and founder of Taktila (a painting method that allows blind people to feel and experience paintings without being able to see them). She felt the need to experience this performance both blind and deaf so she wore both the blindfold and the ear protectors. She experienced a great degree of isolation and she could feel the presence of other people around her only by touching them. Other participants commented that they have learned more about the blind person that they were working with, and that they felt like being blind was somehow relaxing when they were sitting in a chair. On the other hand, the participants that had the ear protectors felt isolated and they felt the need to hear what was happening around them.

Both creators have learned a lot from this experience and they realized that we humans sometimes underestimate the importance of sound. They also understand that every experience we have is in one or another way a restricted experience of this world. We all are different, with different abilities and disabilities, and we are all humans.

They are both looking forward to their next performance which will be on the upcoming weekend.