About us

#danceisblind: the knowledge platform for "dance for the blind and visually impaired"

Welcome to the site of, the site specializing in "dance for the blind and visually impaired". 

Through this digital channel, we aim to provide people with as much information as possible on the subject. The purpose of the site is to create accessibility to more "dance for and by the blind and visually impaired". We say for and by because stands for 100% inclusive dancing and sports. 

By "inclusive" we mean that everyone is welcome and everyone dances with everyone, regardless of dance level, geographic origin, age, gender, and thus also disability. Moreover, we believe that the input of blind or visually impaired dancers can lead to new dance-technical information and dance enjoyment in general for both the sighted and non-sighted. 

There is so much to discover in this field that every angle is welcome. The world is in its infancy in terms of "dancing with eyes closed". That is why there are no dance barriers for us, and we welcome every form of dance expression. We rely on the classic and trained quality standards in the art form of dance. 

In addition to communication, the non-profit organization places above all importance on the social relevance of dance. We frame this as social sports work: dance as sport, dance as aesthetic value, dance as care, dance as participation, connection and involvement, dance as breaking social isolation and taboos. 

Dance also balances on a thin line between sport and art. That is why focuses on both. We are a recognized sports club for the city of Brussels and the Flemish Community Commission and for over 10 years for the city of Ghent in Belgium. The sports club specializes in G-dance or dance for people with a disability and is recognized by Sport Vlaanderen. The main goal of the club is to promote, advise, research, and inform about "dance for the blind and visually impaired". We also think cross-sport and with an initiative towards multisensory sports, innovation, and renewal. Commitment to the visually impaired or blind youth is of utmost importance. 

Dance is universal and practiced by so many people. It is a pillar for interpersonal expression and is not only expressed in "doing" but also in "seeing". For us, the importance of "seeing" is equal to "hearing" and "feeling". also claims a place on stage. The latter mainly aims to inform the sighted about the power of the blind and visually impaired. Thus, we form a bridge between the world of the sighted and the world of the blind or visually impaired. can be used as a source for all interested parties, students from colleges and universities, blind organizations, federations and sports clubs, city services, umbrella organizations, socio-cultural organizations, current and future trainers and coaches, dancers, athletes, and art practitioners.... In general, we all face an immense task "together". 

To date, dance is almost non-existent in the exercise landscape of the blind or visually impaired. By dance, we again mean technically supported dancing. A major problem is the lack of dance and sport in general for the blind or visually impaired. Where language and music are ingrained in the DNA of every person with a visual impairment, dance has not yet had the same history. With an ever-increasing number of blind and visually impaired, it is high time to work on this. Because dance not only provides fun, but it also has a health function in addition to the many listed functions above. The motor development of the visually impaired or blind youth is poorly supported, and dance is too little seen as a valuable tool in their development. Too many people develop neck and back problems later in life due to a lack of supported motor skills. also wants to draw attention to this. 

The non-profit organization has existed since 1999 but has gone through many evolutions. Since 2019, Etage Tropical vzw has specialized in "dance for people with a visual impairment", and in December 2023, the non-profit organization changed its name to "". 


Michèle Martens 

Michèle has been teaching dance for 15 years at her own dance school “Etage Tropical Productions” where, besides the dance styles of Cuban salsa, bachata, and burlesque, she is also responsible for the general management of the dance school. 

The dance school encompasses a wide range of dance styles, and Michèle can rely on a great team of trainers, dance teachers, and volunteers. Initially only in Ghent, the school expanded to 8 cities before corona. Together with her dance partner Laure Lisabeth, she has been teaching Cuban salsa to adults for 10 years.  Meet the full team: click here   

Etage Tropical became a fixture and reference in the Flemish dance scene, and Michèle is the driving force behind the spread of many new dance styles, especially kizomba. She has taken numerous refresher courses and continues to hone her skills every year (Ghent trainer, multimove trainer, ...). 

Graduating with a degree in archaeological sciences and art sciences, she also earned her teaching degree at the university in Ghent (Belgium). This allowed her to teach in secondary education for years. At the age of 36, however, she decided to change her professional life and dedicate herself solely to her great passion, "dance". She founded a non-profit organization, and Etage Tropical became a recognized sports club for the cities of Ghent, Eeklo, and Ostend. 

After corona, the school took a drastic turn and moved to Brussels, where the school was recognized by the Flemish Community Commission and Sport Brussels. The school can now mainly be found in Brussels and Ghent. Michèle is very proud that the school became the face of G-sport in her capital. 

Since 2019, the school has received additional recognition for G-activities from Sport Vlaanderen. When the school was invited in 2017 for the TV show "Camping Karen and James" on the then-channel 4, Michèle came into contact with people with physical disabilities in dance for the first time. The ball started rolling, and Michèle discovered an unexplored area for new dance challenges. As an archaeologist by training, she loves research and combines new aesthetic forms with existing reference points. Michèle spends many hours researching, writing new didactics and methods within her field. 

A few years ago, she came into contact with Manuel Delaere, blind and former dancer, who stood at the dance school on a sunny day. A new dance world opened up for her with him. A challenging world where dance needs to be redefined, and she now considers it her life's goal and task. 

Michèle has the pleasure of dancing and collaborating with great Cuban ballerinas such as Mario Charon Alvarez (whom she calls her salsa father), Alberto Valdes, Mykel Fonts, Yuniel Gual Sondeakokan, and many more. Besides dance, she has a great love for skiing, diving, traveling, wine, and her dogs. 

Michèle primarily considers herself a trainer and coach. Fieldwork is the most important thing for her. Her daily activity in dance in general leads to increasing expertise, which in recent years has focused 80% on dance for the blind and visually impaired. She is increasingly receiving recognition and appreciation as a specialist in her field from many large organizations. 

That last part gives her immense satisfaction and value in life. "Dance for the blind and visually impaired" is something she will continue to advocate for the rest of her life

Manuel Delaere

Meet Manuel, an inspiring assistant trainer in training at Etage Tropical, who follows his dance passion despite his visual challenge. Recognizable by his faithful companion, the black guide dog Daijoor, Manuel has made a journey from swing and ballroom dance to the enchanting world of mainly Cuban salsa and bachata. 

Despite obstacles such as deteriorating vision and inadequate infrastructure, Manuel has rediscovered his love for dance since he started taking lessons at Etage Tropical in September 2019. In addition to his full-time job as a computer engineer, he has been actively advocating for the rights of the blind and visually impaired for over 10 years, inspired by his also blind mother. 

Together with Michèle Martens, Manuel travels throughout Belgium to give workshops and shows, participate in competitions, and raise awareness for dance inclusivity. Their mission is clear: promoting and advancing dance for the blind and visually impaired.

Driven by his passion and mission, Manuel shows that dancing at a high level is also possible for the blind, thanks to intensive training and determination. An inspiring story of perseverance and inclusivity that highlights the power of dance for everyone.

Text description of the photos

photo 1: black and white photo of Michèle and Manuel talking to each other. The photo shows solidarity in the debate about "dance for the blind and visually impaired".

photo 2: colored photo of Michèle and Manuel dancing at the “Revabeurs 2023” at the invitation of G Sport Vlaanderen. Both dancers are surrounded by a group of seated students in a large circle.

photo 3: colored photo of Michèle and Manuel both sitting on the ground in the circle next to the students. It was a Q&A moment for the students to ask Manuel about his blindness, his blindness and dance, etc.

photo 4: colored photo of Manuel dancing with Madina. Madina has been blind since birth and is of African descent and follows bachata lessons at Manuel is personally very committed to this. He likes to convey the message "dance for the blind and visually impaired" through his actions in dance for his peers.

photo 5: Michèle poses in a dance position with Mario Charon Alvarez "El diamante". He was proclaimed the first Latin American ballerina of his time.

photo1: Michèle and Manuel talking to each otherphoto2: Michèle and Manuel dancing a demo surrounded by seated spectatorsphoto3: Michèle explaining a question with the help of her wireless microphonephoto4: Manuel initiating a new move with Madinaphoto5: Manuel Charon Alvarez and Michèle Martens posing for the camera