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Sep 09, 2016 08:30 PM

Paralympic Games

Visually impaired dancing duo shines during the Paralympic Games opening ceremony at the Maracanã

In an interview with the Rio Media Center, the duo talked about preparations for the show and what the performance represented to their lives

Relying on touch and hearing alone, Renata Prates and Oscar Capucho delighted audiences at the opening ceremony of the Rio Paralympic Games last Wednesday (7 September) at the Maracanã. The duo presented an intensely sensory performance, guided by the movement of the two bodies and the images created in the back of the stage behind them. "It was a unique moment in my life," said Oscar during an interview given this Friday (9 September) at the Rio Media Center. "This performance is a milestone in my career as a visually impaired artist," added Renata.

For her, the duo's popularity can serve to raise awareness in society as a whole regarding accessibility and the inclusion of persons with disabilities. "Accessibility is about more than putting up ramps. We need public policies to be created so that these people can develop, study, work. My story with dancing has always been one of love and trials. I had to prove to the world that I was capable of dancing despite my disability. I thought I would not be able to study, but I managed to major in Psychology by using my own means to deal with my lack of sight," she said.


Oscar Capucho became blind at the age of nine due to a retinal detachment caused by severe myopia. Holder of a Degree in Drama from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Capucho also paved his way through dance until receiving the call for the Maracanã performance. "It took a lot of effort, a lot of dedication and a lot of determination to bring this moment to you. It was a great responsibility, because I represented my 'class', i.e. all blind people from around the world. I chose drama, but dance chose me," he said.

The invitation actually came from Renata, who had already danced with Oscar before.  "I was invited by the choreographer of the Corpo group, and decided to refer them to Oscar because we had worked together before. Accomplishing this performance required us to rehearse intensely, and rely heavily on the synchrony of our bodies. Tactile feedback was key to our performance, even because we had to wear a wireless mic, which hampered our hearing. They also wanted us to wear gloves, but we refused that because then we would be deprived of three senses," she said.

Renata was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease of the retina that causes gradual loss of vision.  She began dancing at a very early age, and then went on to graduate as a professional dancer. During her years of training, she had to deal with the difficulties caused by gradually losing sight - which is now at 10-15% - until she decided to own her disability and 'unite' her dancing and her visual impairment.


Renata and Oscar began rehearsing in February. Since she lives in Florianópolis (capital of Santa Catarina, a state in the south of the country), they met once a month for intense one-week rehearsal sessions, during which the duo practised five to six hours a day. It was an intimate moment of the ceremony, presented right after the number that brought together 400 dancers who danced with huge canes that turned into LED sabres. "It was a great moment. We were very present, and fully 'surrendered' to the performance. We have shown that it is possible to dance even with visual impairment,", concluded Renata.