“Do you want to see the statues come to life?” asked a woman with a mask painted on her face, wearing a long, sheer, white skirt that flowed in the wind.
The woman in white was Elm City Dance Collective Director Kellie Lynch. She and four fellow ECDC dancers dressed the same way — Millie VandenBroek, Jen Brubacher, Kate Seethaler, Luis Rodriguez — were demonstrating the dance-making process to a handful of five o’ clock, Friday night folks waiting for the bus and sitting on benches at the corner of Chapel and Temple streets.
It was the launch of the Arts Council-funded “See Yourself Project,” an interactive performance where passersby are invited to direct the moves of the dancers, or “living statues.”
As Lynch explained what was about to take place, four silent “statues” standing on a white sheet behind her studied the audience, striking poses that mirrored their subtle movements and gestures.
First, folks were asked to write down a wish. A glass jar soon filled with slips of paper with messages from “I wish I had money” and “freedom” “no rain tomorrow,” and “I wish we could all just catch a break.”
Those who made wishes were handed a “gift” by the statues. Though she didn’t get the money she wished for, Shauna (at left in photo), who waits for the bus at this same spot everyday, was handed a flower. Others got white balloons.
Gift-holders were asked to gather at the edge of the sheet and suggest a movement for the statues. Whether they twirled around in circles, wiggled their bodies like one of those inflatables in front of a car dealership, jumped straight up-and-down, or made karate-like punches, the statues obliged.
Lynch presented a paper fortune-teller to other members of the crowd, asking them to pick one of the “themes” or “movement qualities” printed on its triangular folds. The themes, including “physical connection,” “snow globe,” “ping pong,” and “follow the leader,” are based on ones found in ECDC’s upcoming dance performance, Almost Porcelain (May 9-11 at Yale’s Off-Broadway Theater). This street-corner scene served as a sneak-peek.
On that same paper fortune-teller were printed music selections, from classical to popular. Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and Lana Del Rey’s ” Young and Beautiful” got a the biggest “Whoos!” from the crowd, though it was a little hard to hear which tunes the dancers were grooving to over loud city buses zooming by.
As the statues danced, more and more people stopped to watch, make wishes, choose themes and music, or just take photos. One of them, 22-year-old Daren (at left in photo), rode his bike from the Tre to downtown just looking for something to do, “to get out of the house.” This is interesting,” he said while taking a video on his phone. “It’s nice to watch.”
At the end of each 15-or-so minute sketch, Lynch directed the living statues to “find an ending.”