Blind Hanoians get their Zumba groove on

By Thuy Quynh   July 5, 2020 | 07:00 pm GMT+7
Blind Hanoians get their Zumba groove on
Nhung (L) instructs a Zumba dancer. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy Quynh.

Twice a week, visually impaired Phu Thi Hanh from Hanoi visits the blind association in Thanh Xuan District to strut her stuff in a Zumba class.

At 8 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, Hanh, 30, takes a motorbike taxi to her Zumba lesson.

On the way, she tries her best to remember the Cha Cha Cha, a Cuban dance she had learned in her previous class.

Thirty minutes later, in a 50-meter-square room, the Zumba class kicks off with ten members. The oldest is around 70, the youngest 30. As the music starts, instructor Ho Thi Nhung, 28, leads the warm up.

After two months, despite steady improvement, Hanh is still a bit confused by some of the steps, leading to the odd collision with classmates or tables.

"Raise your hands, step to the right, move your body. One, two, three..." instructor Nhung encourages her students amid the thump of the speakers.

"What can a blind person do?" the shy Hanh, born with congenital visual impairment, used to ask herself. From northern Thai Nguyen Province, she came to Hanoi around six years ago to finish her high school education and work at a blind massage center on Ngoc Khanh Street.

On learning the blind association in Thanh Xuan District accepted new members from other provinces, Hanh joined up.

"I have been a member of the association for a long time, but never thought of learning Zumba. I was confused after registering, not sure how I could dance without seeing clearly," Hanh recalled, adding the Zumba lessons have made her aware the blind could function just as well as those blessed with sight.

Nguyen Huy Cuong, 43, a senior blind dancer, often assists the other students to learn their moves.

Unable to follow the instructor, Cuong was anxious at first, but slowly managed to smooth out his movements.

Cuong (behind) shows a learners how to move his hands. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy Quynh.

Cuong (behind) shows a learner how to move his hands. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy Quynh.

"Listening to the instructions and using our imagination, when we first started, some of us turned left, some right, some stepped too far aside, I guess the instructor was very tired," Cuong noted. Now, "it's not difficult for us to learn advanced moves."

Cuong is a masseuse. Weekly, he spends his Tuesday and Thursday mornings learning to dance and conversing with those that share his disability, which helps him feel more optimistic.

Previously, on June 24, four members of the dance club won the first prize at a local competition. They are now preparing for the next round.

Though many thought her a daydreamer for wanting to open the class, instructor Nhung believes teaching the blind something they had never done before boosts their self-esteem.

Nhung said her greatest tool during every class is her voice, since, unlike in a ‘normal’ class, her students cannot copy her movements by simply sight.

No matter the weather, her students never skip a lesson, inspiring Nhung endlessly.

According to Nguyen Tien Thanh, president of Thanh Xuan Blind Association, after commencing in December 2019, the class has grown from six to 12 dancers.

The association decided to host the class to improve mental and physical health, as well as self-confidence and strength among its members, allowing them to better integrate with their communities.

 
 
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