Monday, September 21, 2015

Organizing a street show

Bellydance blooms in the midst of bustling downtown Fredericksburg 

When you dance on the street - actually the sidewalk - on a beautiful, sunny Saturday with lots of strolling shoppers passing by, small performance segments work best.

This past weekend 3 of my dancers and I participated in "Art Attack" in downtown Fredericksburg amidst painters, glass blowers, potters, musicians, hoopers, and more, all creating art outside on Caroline Street. When we do this event we always plan to perform in several locations; and this year we did three separate shows spanning several blocks. We'd stroll until we found a good place, then set up camp like nomads, dance, and enjoy the scene.
dancers, kids, pedestrians on the street
taking a break in between sets

This was the first year we used recorded music in addition to our own drums and percussion. I grouped our four songs into two short sets of two songs each: one started with Tribal Odyssey group improv including swords, then solo improvs in front of a Chorus Line.
dancers balancing swords on their heads
happy sword dancers in front of Pickers Supply! 

The other set was a dance with finger cymbals, then another song for solo improv as before. We also sang, drummed, and chatted with folks.
group of dancers singing and playing percussion
singing and drumming in downtown Fxbg

It was very free-flowing and easy to adapt to the vibe of the moment. As a lover of momentum I enjoyed how our group set up, performed, interacted with people, finished, and moved on. It felt great!

Using these two-song sets (each set about 8 minutes long) gave us a good chunk of performance, but then we could stop and talk with folks who were watching before they decided to move on. And I'm really NOT a huge fan of using recorded music on little speakers right next to traffic, but it worked pretty well. At least we had finger cymbals and drums to fill in the tempo when the street noise interfered.

So my advice on street performing is, keep it short, mix it up, bring your own noisemakers, and just enjoy yourselves - it makes for a good show!
Yours in dance,
Anthea "Kawakib"
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