Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Visually impaired Pasco teens learn steps for Valentine's Day dance

PORT RICHEY

Like most teenagers, they feel awkward and unsure on a dance floor. They don't know how to ask someone to dance, or what to say when the song ends. Unlike most teenagers, they can't see well enough to follow the steps or read the visual cues from their partners. They're visually impaired, these teens. But there they are on the floor — swinging, box-stepping, tangoing. Sway, sway, rock step. Good! To get them ready for a Valentine's Day dance this weekend sponsored by the Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, a small group of Pasco teens got a crash course in cutting a rug.

Instructors from Arthur Murray dance studio visited the Lighthouse campus, where a small kitchen with linoleum floors (good for gliding) served as the ballroom.

They began with a slow rumba, doing the box step. They moved to a slightly up-tempo swing, then plunged into the tango.

Left foot forward, bum-bum-bum!

The dance lessons help the teens with things like body awareness, orientation and exercise. They also benefit from taking part in an activity that's a gimme for their sighted peers but seems off-limits to them.

It's part of a program at the Lighthouse that helps visually impaired teens transition from school to work. The program includes bricks and mortar: learning to use assistive technologies like a voice-controlled computer. Also, the intangibles: social skills that might elude them because they can't see people's faces.

"A lot of social skills are learned through observation of others, mostly your parents and your peers," said Lighthouse executive director Sylvia Perez. "When you don't see, those things are usually behind."

Lania Berger directed the dance lesson. She went beyond feet and hands.

"When we finish dancing, we want to make sure we always escort our partner back to our seats," she told the teens. "You never want to leave somebody alone on the dance floor."

"You always say, 'Thank you for the dance,' " she added.

"It's a different kind of teaching method because so many people are visual learners," Berger said after the lesson. "It takes a lot more courage to dance when you can't see what's going on."

Sway, sway, now turn me!

Madison Pugh, the only girl in this week's dance lesson, got extra attention and twirls. She said she had danced ballet before and these lessons made her more comfortable.

"It was nice," the 14-year-old New Port Richey girl said in a near-whisper.

Darnell Williams, 16, of Land O'Lakes impressed everyone with his swing moves. But he said he most liked the corte — a dramatic, picturesque pause during the tango, often done with a dip.

Will he ask someone to dance on Saturday?

"Definitely," he said.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Visually impaired Pasco teens learn steps for Valentine's Day dance 02/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2010 9:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.