Dancing in the Street/Dreaming with Your Feet

In the Greater Hartford Welcome Center rests a red cubical jar that contains tiny blue slips of inspirational quotes. During a particularly potent 2:30 slump, I reached into the jar to find an interesting idea from Constanze: “Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!” Although I have always been fascinated by dancers’ ability to make meticulous and exacting movements appear effortless, my feet must be agents of nightmares, since they have inspired more dread and terror than musings in my lifetime.

Fortunately, I saw Constanze’s quotation come alive in a few different ways at the Arts Council’s Dancing in the Street Public Art Project yesterday (May 2). Another event in our Aetna Arts Week, Dancing in the Street featured performances in downtown Hartford’s Statehouse Square by Judy Dworin Performance Project, dancEnlight, Spectrum in Motion, Ballet Theatre Company, Sonia Plumb Dance Company and Allongé Dance Variations.

This free lunchtime event showcased the variety and excellence of dance in our community in a way that any passerby could take part in and appreciate. With each performance lasting less than five minutes, visitors were treated to a number of different dance forms in a short amount of time. Some of the types of dance included spicy flamenco, classic ballet and more contemporary pieces. After seeing a performance, attendees could then talk directly to the dancers and learn more about the dancers, the dance company and/or just dance in general. For those not familiar with the art form, Dancing in the Street presented a great chance to get up close and personal with art in an atmosphere away from a formal stage or ticket prices.

Throughout the event, I was in charge of carrying out the performance schedule as the self-appointed “MC” for the day. In spite of my managerial responsibilities, I found some time to break away from the desk to do a little dancing myself. In an attempt to transform my monsterish coordination, I asked a few of the pre-teen ballerinas from Ballet Theatre Company to give me a crash course in balance and movement. Painstakingly, I tried being a good student by following their suggestions to a tee. However, somewhere in the middle of tweaking my knees out, keeping my back straight and my hands in a specific position, I lost my balance and nearly fell, receiving hearty guffaws from all of my instructors. If I did in fact hit the ground, I guess that could be one way dance evokes dreams.

My favorite part of the event, though, occurred right at the very end. After all the performances ended, I put on some generic dance music from an iPod provided by none other than the dashing Roger Castonguay from The Defining Photo. Seemingly incapable of staying motionless, dancers from each company rushed to the dance floor and together started strutting their stuff. Inspired by the energy, even some passersby came and joined in on the action. To think about it in a different way, dance brought people who had never met before together in public to simply enjoy the art form and each other. In that spirit of collaboration and community, I can now understand why

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet.

Much thanks to each dance company for participating in the day and for those who stopped by. It truly was a fantastic and memorable event I am proud I had the opportunity to help organize and create.

(Photos courtesy of Roger Castonguay from The Defining Photo)

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