If you’re in downtown Davis tomorrow at about 6:15pm, keep a look out – there will be dancers!
“Dance Dance Davis”, a community based dance project led by Shelly Gilbride, will take place as a flashmob, a very large flashmob, tomorrow May 9th at 6:15pm, somewhere in downtown Davis. Shelly, who is coordinating the project with her own PDA: Public Dance Acts along with the UC Davis Institute for Exploration in Theater, Dance and Performance, invited me to document the event with some sketches, and so this past week I attended a couple of rehearsals with sketchbooks in hand, and though I wasn’t dancing myself, wow what a workout!
The first one I attended was at the Davis Art Center (now only five minutes from my house!). Most of those in attendance had no experience of dancing, but had plenty of enthusiasm. Shelly eased them into it painlessly with some simple warm-ups, before moving into the pre-prepared dance choreography. Now when I say pre-prepared, this is the fun part – every single move was ‘crowd-sourced’, that is, not just inspired by but actually created by the people of Davis. Going around town, Shelly would stop people and ask them to strike a pose, a gesture, perhaps one that reminded them of Davis. Each was noted and woven together, and as she taught the attendees at rehearsal she reminded them, this dance is written by the people of Davis, by you.
Everybody was made to feel comfortable, to feel part of something. This is exactly what I like to see in community based art projects – dance is not only the realm of your Barishnikovs and your Swan Lakes, it’s something everyone can have fun with. Like I say, I wasn’t dancing because I was sketching, but with all that energy around me I was as good as dancing. Using the smoother paper of my large Moleskine (the ‘Paul Wang’ one, my ‘big ideas’ book) I let my pens do the dancing and sketched as quickly as I could. I am used to things standing still (fire hydrants, etc) so it was nice to let myself go.
The final rehearsal was on Monday evening at the Mondavi Center. There must have been 200 people there, dancers of all ages from the quite young to the nearly old. There were cupcakes and cookies and this time the band, Jenny Lynn and her Real Gone Daddies, who played live. One young girl said to them, “you sound just like the CD!” The song they play for the dance piece is upbeat, bouncy, and very catchy, I could draw to it all day.
The rehearsal went quickly, and abounded with enthusiasm. Perhaps some will feel nervous when dancing at the flashmob around unsuspecting members of the public, but with so many others doing the same I wouldn’t be surprised if people just started joining in. The flashmob location was revealed (I think a lot of people had guessed it), and everyone went home, to reconvene at that ‘secret location’ by 6:15 on Wednesday…