Santa Monica

Blind Dance Troupe Empowers People With Disabilities Through the Arts

"I see so much transformation that happens right before my eyes every day."

Born blind in one eye, he was told he would never play sports or drive a car.

But Greg Shane proved critics wrong. The performer founded a non-profit called CRE Outreach to empower others with disabilities through theater and dance.

As part of one CRE Outreach program, Shane leads a performing arts troop made up of disabled artists out of a dance studio in Santa Monica. They're part of a first of its kind dance troop for the visually impaired.

"Going to school, I got teased, called blind kid, 'one-eyed jack' and 'pirate man,'" Shane said. "These names really hurt."

But when Shane discovered magic at the age of 12, he fell in love with performing. Ten years later, he would go on to start his non-profit.

One of his star dancers is Sylvia Taylor, a former backup singer who lost her sight at age 40 from a rare condition. Afterwards, he was afraid to leave her house for over 7 years.

"Depression set in, and I went into this reclusive state," Taylor said. "I just would not go outside."

But when Taylor found the blind dance company and discovered she could still perform, her world opened up again.

"I didn't understand what was waiting for me up the road," she said. "I just had to get up and dust myself off and keep it moving."

Taylor is able to learn dance steps by feeling the body of choreographer Hydeia Muhammad.

"I feel like this process has helped all of them make them more confident and fearless knowing there's a lot of things they're told they can't do," Muhammad said. "This shows them they can do it."

"I see so much transformation that happens right before my eyes every day," Shane said. "And having that ability to be part of that is truly incredible."

Find out more about CRE Outreach here

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