Film screening at Carrollwood Cultural Center highlights audio description as art

Tampa Beacon


CARROLLWOOD — The Carrollwood Cultural Center will present “Telephone,” a screendance documentary that highlights the important art form of audio description for dance.

A screendance is a genre of dance that combines choreography and filmmaking. The film was co-directed by Dark Room Ballet founder Krishna Washburn and choreographer/filmmaker Heather Shaw in the height of the pandemic. Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with Washburn and Shaw after the screening on Saturday, Feb. 4, in a hybrid Zoom/live talkback.

The film will be shown at 8 p.m. at the Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa. Admission is $10 for Carrollwood Cultural Center members and $15 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased online at, the Center’s box office, or by calling 813-922-8167.

“Telephone is an educational documentary film that explores the philosophies and possibilities of audio description for dance,” Washburn said. “Audio description is the means by which blind and visually impaired people engage with art and media. It is a literal verbal description of what is happening.”

Washburn is blind herself, and she noted that when it comes to audio description in dance, it tends to be done in a very proscribed way. Her goal, along with Shaw, in creating the documentary was to propose that there are many more beautiful artistic possibilities. In putting the film together, Washburn and Shaw received submissions from dancers, both disabled and non-disabled, and audio describers.

“What revealed itself as we received submissions from all of our anti-ableism artists was a multiplicity of beautiful audio descriptions and beautiful dance expressions,” Washburn said. “It’s an opportunity to open people’s minds, not only to access the dance but to start thinking about the purpose of performance and what is it that makes a performance accessible.”

According to Washburn, ableism is the systematized prejudice against disabled people in our global culture. Anti-ableism is the psychological recognition of ableism and the purposeful choice to assist in its dismantling, societally and internally.

“It’s been a really exciting process,” Shaw said. “Tagging on to everything that Krishna said about the importance of showcasing the accessibility of dance, we’ve also received feedback that it’s helped people who regardless of sight level didn’t understand dance before watching ‘Telephone.’ Having the audio description, as well as the movement, has allowed them to experience dance in a new way and create new appreciation for art as a whole.”