The Blind Dance Company is dedicated to empowering the lives of the visually impaired through the art of dance. On Saturday, June 29, the company hosted its second annual blind artist showcase and fundraiser, called "Arts In The Dark." The event took place at the Industry loft in Hollywood, and production was guided by The Blind Dance Company's founder, Hydeia Muhammad.
Muhammad, 24, started teaching ballroom dancing professionally at 16 years old. Her work with blind dancers began in 2017, and she told CBSN her passion for dance is what drove her to focus on the underserved blind community.
"After volunteering, I completely fell in love," Muhammad said. "I was just inspired by their diligence and optimism for dance, something they haven't done since losing their sight."
The Blind Dance Company currently has ten blind dancers, some of whom lost their eyesight later in life.
"Many blind people love to dance, and stopped dancing when losing their sight," Muhammad said. "I teach blind dancers the same way I teach any clients. I feel like it's easier to teach blind dancers because they're not trying to figure out what's happening ahead of time. They kind of relax and let the physical guidance teach them."
Developing her own methods, Muhammad teaches the dancers through touch. Once they've felt the movements a few times, they're able to grasp the concepts and she can start coaching them verbally, through the names of the dance moves.
"The group pushes me to be my best in all areas of my life," says Blind Dance Company dancer Christina Johnson. "It's given me power, self-confidence and self-determination — more life."
Muhammad says the group, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is raising money to help provide the dancers with access to professional instruction, competitions and festivals. Over the weekend, the organization held a silent auction, successfully selling every item with the exception of a painting created by international artist Damien March. The Blind Dance Company says it will hold onto the painting, allowing interested bidders to purchase the artwork in support of the organization. It's currently valued at $4,000.
With a mission to create professional dancers within the blind community, the Blind Dance Company works to provide employment opportunities in the entertainment industry for the visually impaired.
"Ten percent of life is based on what happens to you, the other 90 percent is based on how you react," says dancer Ronald Chism. "Shout-out to The Blind Dance Company for helping me with evolving my stage swag, presence and confidence in blindness through the art of dance."
The Blind Dance Company says it will be accepting new members soon.