Improving Dance Through Total Vision Awareness:
By Ernest V. Loewenstein, Ph.D., O.D. Optometrist
Dance is a visual medium – for the dancer, as well
as for the observer. Movement requires visual awareness. Consider
these essential questions:
- Where are you onstage?
- Are you in the right spot in relation to other action?
- Is your distance from others correct?
- Do you know where other dancers and objects are located, even
when you aren't looking right at them?
- Can you look at the conductor without getting lost?
Total visual awareness means more than just seeing
a single object. It means seeing a whole scene – what’s close by
and what’s farther away – and understanding the relationships of
the individual objects or performers on stage to each other. This
is the capacity that enables a dancer or actor to move with assurance
and precision on the stage while playing his or her role.
Most people have adequate peripheral vision,
but not awareness. Performers, however, must learn to focus on a
central object or place while accurately placing peripheral objects
or performers around it. There are exercises to help performers
develop their peripheral visual awareness – and learn to see both
the whole stage and the individual parts in or on it.
A one-hour workshop is available to explore the
aspects of vision that can help faculty, students and professionals
improve their performances on stage.