Danse-cite encourages universal accessbility to live arts

Audio Description


Beginning in October 2021 in Montréal, along with our partners : Danse Danse,Tangente and the dance company DLD, we will offer a series of performances with audio description for blind and partially sighted audiences, including several ancillary activities: tactile visits, round tables, etc.

This pilot year is made possible through the Conseil des arts de Montréal’s Inclusive Practices program, the Canada Arts Council’s Sector Innovation and Development program, and partnerships with Connec-T and other organisations working for blind and partially sighted people: the Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Montréal Métropolitain, the CNIB Foundation and the Fondation des Aveugles du Québec.

To enrich the offer of cultural experiences to blind and partially sighted people, and to participate in the accessibility of contemporary dance, Danse-Cité is offering three partners the equipment and support for each of them to offer audio description for one of their season’s performances. Throughout the year, blind and partially sighted audiences will be able to attend five performances with audio description.

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 for the audience 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 performance 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 their 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 learns ahead of time to facilitate their oralisation during the performance. For the show, they sit in technical booth or in a quiet room with a screen showing a live feed of the dance, as well as a mixing table, a microphone and a headset.

With state-of-the-art equipment installed by Connec-T, and an event-tailored wifi network, blind and partially sighted audiences will need a smart phone (which they can borrow if they do not have one) and headset to download the Sunnheiser app and fully dive into the performance.

Audio describers

Since 2020, the Conseil des arts de Montréal’s support has allowed us to train a group of dance audio describers. They will complete their training in the coming months. We have called upon the French specialist Valérie Castan to offer a training program in April and October 2021.

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 might 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 Castan has described more than twenty-three choreographic works, five dance films and nine artistic projects and related events. Danse-Cité recognizes her as an undeniable expert that will enrich the Montréal dance community.


In April 2021, training focussed on Valérie Castan’s theory and methodology of audio description. Learning was supported by practical experiments from selected contemporary dance audiovisual materials. The course was given online, in small working groups and workshops, and concluded in a virtual presentation with course participants and blind and partially sighted people.

In the fall, training will be paired with a dance performance including audio description. Participants will be guided through all the steps leading to the event.
Next training - part 2: October 2021, 4 to 8
More details:

Service offer

If you are a dance presenter or a creative dance company and would like to have a personalised audio description service, contact Maud:


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    Training Audiodescripteur·rices - Part 2

      Cultural Mediation


      A new project made possible through the ‘Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal conclue entre la Ville de Montréal et le gouvernement du Québec’. In association with the Artist Emile Pineault.

      During the 21-22 fall and winter, we will offer workshop-laboratories for the exchange and sharing of knowledge. These workshops are addressed to blind and amblyopic participants and choreographers and artists whose creative times take place in Montréal. These workshops will open new perspectives on choreographic processes.

      Décloisonner la multisensorialité

      A collaboration with Emile Pineault.
      The call for proposals : Décloisonner la multisensorialité — Exchanges between artists in the performing arts and people with visual impairments
      is now online.
      For more details and to register, please click here.


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