Dancing together can help build a sense of community by jlhd32


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									DEMOCRAT        AND CHRONICLE                                                             SPEAKING                   Olrr

Dancing together can help
build a sense of community
            DANIELLE L.                                                                                         street to the next performance
                                                                                                                   As people learned the steps,
                                                                                                                we gave them streamers and
            ESSAYIST                                                                                            they, too, became dancing
                                                                                                                docents. The audience was
                                                                                                                huge, yet everyone            was
                                                                                                                involved. What a sight to see
                                                                                                                people who were pushing
       rhythm, synchrony and                                                                                    strollers dancing, elders danc-
Dancers movements build
    shared know    that                                                                                         ing, people of all colors and
group cohesion.                                                                                                 shapes smiling as they walked,
   I saw this truth emerge in a                                                                                 skipped or danced from one
major community event on Oct.                                                                                   performance site to the next.
14: Dances on the Avenue. Chil-                                                                                    ARTWalk's executive direc-
dren, teens and adults repre-                                                                                   tor, Douglas Rice, who has been
senting a spelKrumof colors and                                                                                 the sound man for many of the
ethnic groups performed and                                                                                     biggest dance companies in the
danced on University Avenue to                                                                                  states, said he had never seen
celebrate ARTWalk's ground-                                                                                     such an attentive audience. As
breaking.                                                                                                       lively as people grew as they
   ARTWalk is an interactive                                                                                    danced from performance site to
outdoor museum about to be                                                                                      performance site, they were
licensed by the state of New                                                                                    completely silent while they
York. It will collect and exhibit                                                                  File photo   watched the dancers - that's
works of art from all disciplines,   An audience member dances along University Avenue at the                   hundreds of people absorbed
including the visual arts,                                                                                      and involved.
music, dance, theater and            Dances on the Avenue event Oct. 14. Essayist Danielle                         Dances on the Avenue pro-
literature.                          Fraenkel describes how the event showed how dance can                      vided us with vital information.
   So far the city has widened       unite a community. The audience member pictured above,                     It demonstrated that people of
the sidewalks of ARTWalk's                                                                                      all ages can dance, that children
                                     was one of many celebrating the groundbreaking for                         and adults of all abilities can
urban trail from 5 to 8 feet. We
have already selected designs by     ARTWalk, a pedestrian art trail along University.                          study dance and perform to-
local artists to be imprinted in                                                                                gether and that dance comes
the sidewalks, commissioned                                                                                     from many countries and in
and displayed eight benches de-                                          select. As in the calls for imprint    many forms. We learned that the
signed by local artists and deco-
rated two of the many lamp-
                                                   "                     and bench designs, the focus
                                                                         was on the aesthetic value and
                                                                                                                environment        can   provide
                                                                                                                 sources of inspiration for pro-
posts on our interactive public                                          on finding a balance between           fessional dancers, that dance can
walkway. We have a Culture             The audience was                  the professional dancers and           make political and social state-
Builds Community Grant for the                                           community representation.              ments and that Monroe and sur-
lampposts, so this is going to be     huge,buteveryone                      In the end, the program in-          rounding counties have choreo-
an ongoing event for quite                                               cluded eight juried perfor-            graphers and companies that
awhile. The selected imprints              got involved.                 mances, two invited perfor-             deserve serious attention.
and benches represent a wide                                             mances and interactive, audi-             With all that has been going
range of expertise from an im-                                           ence participation dance events         on since Sept. 11, we needed
print by a 9-year-old to designs                   "                     led by dancing docents. We had          this event. It showed how dance
by well-known art figures in                                             three performance sites. Two            and music bring people together:
western New York.                                                        were a block apart. At the end of       How shared rhythms, synchro-
   As an ARTWalk board mem-          dance groups and groups that        the dances at each performance          nous movement and creative
ber, I was concerned about the       compete nationally submitted        site, the dancing docents               expression foster group cohe-
lack of attention to dance. One      videos and statements about         emerged from the audience,              sion and build community. 0
result: an open call to the Roch-    their visions for an outdoor        streamers in hand, onto the per-
ester community for dance per-       performance. The jury, which        formance area.                         Praenkel is a board member of
formances at the groundbreak-        included two dance/movement            The docents did a short num-        ARTWalk       and director    of
ing. We had lots of interest.        therapists, dancers, dance teach-   ber that we had choreographed          Kinections, a Rochester-based
    Individuals, working dance       ers, local business people and      together, got the audience to          institute that provides dance
companies, storefront dancing        community residents, had a          join in and we all, docents and        movement therapy, counseling
 schools, senior groups, ethnic      tough time deciding whom to         audience, danced down the              and professional training.

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