Audio Description

Danse-Cité wishes to participate in and foster universal accessibility to live arts.

As such, April 9, 2021, the company will offer a first performance with audio description geared towards blind and partially sighted spectators. State-of-the-art technology and live narration by specialist Valérie Castan will invite approximately fifty blind or partially sighted people to experience Face-à-Face by Jérémie Niel at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines. The performance will remain open to the regular audiences.

Alongside the performance, Danse-Cité is organizing a workshop for approximately ten dance narrators, training future resources in partnership with UQAM’s dance department.

This project is made possible through the support of the Conseil des arts de Montréal’s program for inclusive practices, the support services organisation Connec-T and a collaboration with the Fondation des aveugles du Québec, the Regroupement québécois des aveugles et amblyopes du Montréal métropolitain and the CNIB Foundation.

What is Audio Description?

Frequent in film and theatre, audio description consists in describing the visual elements of a work for a blind and partially sighted audience in order to facilitate their understanding. Included is a workshop before the performance to become familiar with the artists and narrators’ voices, and different stage elements likes sets and costumes.

Dance requires a slightly different process, with the elaboration of a specific methodology and vocabulary. The narrator attends several rehearsals in the weeks preceding the show to become familiar with the work and develop vocabulary to enrich the description. They then write a narrative text to serve as a basis for the live description.

It is difficult to consider anything other than live audio description for dance, given the frequency of improvisation and variations in timing. The written document is a reference that the narrator integrates to facilitate their work during the performance.

For the show, the narrator sits in a calm space with a screen showing a live feed of the dance, as well as a mixing table, a microphone and a headset.

About Valérie Castan

Since 2012, French choreographer Valérie Castan has been working on a methodology for the audio description of choreographic works. The questions she tackles include: “What vocabulary to describe visual references, gestures and complex actions? How to evoke emotion for the visually impaired spectator in the potential absence of references in their memory and imaginary world?” (Danse et handicap visuel : Pour une accessibilité des pratiques chorégraphiques, vol. 1, CND, p.3). Valérie has described more than twenty choreographic works, five dance films and nine artistic projects and related events.

Danse-Cité recognizes her as a pioneer and undeniable expert that will enrich the Montréal dance community.

Download Valérie Castan's Biography (french only)