Good luck! I had lots of fun with the dancebot, it’s been a while…
Yes, you can run without vision, the book talks about how there’s basically two controls for the bot, to turn and to move forward/backward. You can control these with vision or by setting them to whatever you want.
I’m still on my first gyro, had no problems with it. It needs ground on the black pin and 5V on the red pin. There are 2 white pins, one driven by the Prop and one sensed by the Prop. I haven’t had problems driving these directly, but if you wanted to you could insert a 10k resister.