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StoryCorps in Oklahoma: Sensing Dance Without Seeing It (ENCORE) (Oct 28, 2011)

JAY DOUDNA: “My parents, while they had to adjust to having the vision I have, they were willing to let me go. When they found out that there was a specialized school for the blind in Philadelphia (the Overbrook School for the Blind), I think it was there that my parents began to realize that I could have a “normal” life, and not worry about what I couldn’t do, but the things that I could.”

JIM HENRY: “My relatively short acquaintanceship with you has led me to believe that you are a wonderful listener. Because your vision is impaired, do you think that in your world you hear more than most? What is listening to you that might be different than what listening is to me?"

JD: “I know this for a fact; it’s not true that the other person’s senses are automatically better. What does happen, though, is that you automatically are aware of things. I’m reminded of being at Overbook, and they brought a woman in to teach us how to dance.

We were 13 years old, and for heaven’s sake, where was American Bandstand? It was in Philadelphia, not 10 blocks from where we went to school. I know this now, I never thought about it then, but as a sighted person, how did anyone learn how to dance if they watched Bandstand? They watched it. So everybody else did The Twist and Chubby Checker was doing The Twist, because they watched him do it.

A couple of nights a week, we would go into the gym. It was a gender-segregated school, so they had the boys side and a girls side. We got to see the girls at night, so that was pretty cool. I remember the instructor’s name, it was Miss Mountain, and by letting us touch her hips, she’d show us how to Twist, or how to Jitterbug.

I remember some of the girls were stiff, because if you had no vision it was hard to be loose if you’re doing the Jitterbug, but when you don’t have your sight, you learn to use your other senses.”

Produced for KGOU by Brian Hardzinski, with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to recording and collecting stories of everyday people. The Senior Producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

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