FRONTERA: A Universal Vision
January 13, 2020
Describing Large Scale Dance – A First for Vancouver
FRONTERA will be presented on January 30th. For tickets and more information, click here.
By: Kristy Kassie
In 2009, VocalEye Descriptive Arts Society planted its flag on a barren plot in the Canadian theatre landscape and proclaimed its mission as ‘making the performing arts accessible to the blind’. Live description familiarized blind and partially-sighted theatre-goers with stage sets, costumes and characters. During performances, strategic narration enhanced the experience without detracting from the action.
Fast forward ten years and we are on the doorstep of a new decade, tagged already as one of perfect vision, and VocalEye is about to embark on, arguably, its most ambitious project yet.
On January 30, 2020, VocalEye describes Frontera, a collaboration between post-rock masters Fly Pan Am, choreographer Dana Gingras and her Animals of Distinction dance company and United Visual Artists. The production addresses borders and surveillance, how they define us and why anyone would dare challenge them.
Allow me to throw down my gauntlet.
Why in the world should this performance, of all the performances out there, a performance where space is defined by light alone, a performance where ten dancers gyrate suggestively but wordlessly, be made accessible to the blind?
There are experiences that are simply irrelevant and, to be honest, unnecessary, to those with vision loss, aren’t there?
Like driving. But, then again, self-driving cars are pushing that boundary.
Okay, employment, then. Oh wait, there are blind people in the workforce. Not nearly enough, certainly, but boundaries are being pushed there, too.
Yes, my question was rhetorical.
In fact, I stand on my soapbox and declare that this is the very vision – pun on both 2020 and the blind – upon which Frontera thrives. There are no borders, no bars that incarcerate us but those which we impose on ourselves.
My boyfriend, who is blind, and I, who am partially-sighted, are looking forward to experiencing Frontera. No, I didn’t choose the word ‘experience’ because of our sight limitations. Sound has never been the only way in which we absorb the world around us. Our minds are not the dark rooms of nightclubs strobing with senseless pulses of light.
Live description of Frontera will give us the tools we need to gain a fuller appreciation of the show, not unlike people who read the entire program before a show, or look up clips on YouTube.
VocalEye Descriptive Arts Society has revolutionized live description from the rudimentary accessibility tool it used to be into a highly effective instrument of audience engagement.
For tickets and more information on FRONTERA, click here.
We have special pricing available for VocalEye members (including first time users).
We offer complimentary tickets for companions.
Sighted guides are available to pick patrons up at nearby transit for all our shows. For more info go to our Accessible PuSh page by clicking here.
Kristy Kassie is an English as a Second Language Instructor and a Private English Tutor. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she immigrated to Toronto in 1992 with her parents and younger brother. She moved to Vancouver in 2003 where she has taught at various international colleges as well as at Vancouver Community College. Since 2016, Kristy has had several flash fiction pieces published in online magazines and she self-published her first book, Brogan Bites, in November 2017. She is currently labouring over her second book. Kristy is also Vice Chair of VocalEye Descriptive Arts, an organization that provides live description of the performing arts for people with vision loss. Kristy is partially-sighted, with tunnel vision in her right eye and light perception in her left. To find out more about Kristy, please visit her website at https://www.kristyk.ca.
—(Photo: Kristy and her partner Shawn during the touch tour for Shakespeare in Love at Bard on the Beach holding one of the props: a feather fan.)