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Visually-Impaired Dancers Learn 'Romeo And Juliet' With Pennsylvania Ballet

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is a special kind of dance class for the visually impaired in Philadelphia. The class helps internally visualize movement and shares the benefits of ballet with people who don't need to use their eyes to enjoy dancing.

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They might not be able to see ballet, but they can feel it with the music of "Romeo and Juliet."

The Associated Services for the Blind is holding a special five-week ballet class in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Ballet during its presentation of "Romeo and Juliet."

blind dancers 4
Credit: CBS3

"This is such a gift," says Marsha Levy of the Associated Services for the Blind.

Levy, who lost her vision at birth, says ballet helps her with balance and so much more.

"Without vision, it's very hard to find opportunities for joining other people in a class," explains Levy.

In addition to the camaraderie, the visually impaired participating in the class say that learning ballet also helps with independence, self-esteem, and artistry.

blind dancers 3
Credit: CBS3

"The benefits of dance are being connected with your body, strengthening and stretching one's body and also just the mind-body connection," says Sarah Cooper of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

With an instructor from the Pennsylvania Ballet, they're learning movements for the pillow dance sequence from "Romeo and Juliet."

Denice Brown, who has retinitis, says she especially likes the exercise she gets from learning ballet and that she gets inspired by the music.

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"You move your body according to the movement, the rhythm of what you're hearing, give it your own expression," Brown explains.

And now that they've danced "Romeo and Juliet," the group will attend a real performance with the Pennsylvania Ballet where they'll get an audio description of what's happening on stage.

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