Kim Popa is a founder of Pones, Inc.
Pones Inc. is a collective of ARTISTS AS ACTIVISTS who encourage PARTICIPATORY PERFORMANCE with a focus on CREATING COMMUNITY. The program Pones In(c) Public was conceived of last year as Lindsey Jones, the co-founder of Pones Inc., and myself, Kim Popa, discussed how to encourage the participatory part of our mission. We found that so often people are intimidated by dance, they feel left out when ballet vocabulary and technique are put into the equation. However, in our conversations with people we found that everyone has a more visceral, more personal story associated with dance as well.
We often forget the FUN that is innately part of dancing. Weddings, birthdays, and school dances are all examples of finding the joy in dance. Jones and I learned that many people’s first memory of dance was also emotive and non-performance based.
“I remember dancing on my father’s feet in the kitchen after dinner, he would turn the radio on and we would dance,” said Jane Green, a recent participant. So why do we lose this carefree attitude once dance becomes a performance?
Pones Inc. wanted to explore that idea more, and to connect the everyday person to their ‘inner dancer.' Through this, Pones In(c) Public was created. We wanted to reach as many diverse neighborhoods as many people as possible. By the end of this season, we performed in 9 different public spaces in 6 different neighborhoods. Pones Inc. performed for over 1,000 pedestrians with over 100 participating pedestrians, and 50 musicians and dancers participated.
Being a participant means putting on a pair of headphones that lead you in a simple series of ‘dance steps’ (ex: wave your arms, clap to the beat, do your best robot). “At first I thought, I can’t do that. Then I started doing it, and realized how easily the barriers can come down,” said Stephen Hafer, Participant.
The instructions are underscored by local bands and when at its best, a typical outing for a Pones In(c) Public looks like a group of people dancing together to the live music that is being played behind them. “There is a sense of safety within the headphones. I feel like I may have been intimidated by dancing in front of strangers if I didn’t have them on,” said Alex Talks, Participant.
My favorite memory from this year’s season happened at Newport on the Levee. A group of about 10 junior high boys came up to us and started to participate. I think at first it was a dare for one of their friends, but at some point they became really invested in it and asked Jon Evans if they could put out his guitar case to busk for tips. At the same time a dad and his daughter joined in the fun and two gentleman in their 40s who appeared to be business professionals.
I remember looking around and thinking how special it was that all of these people from seemingly different backgrounds, economic circumstances, ages, etc. could all be dancing together for just a few minutes in the middle of this public space, and having such an uninhibited good time.
I cannot wait to start planning for next year’s Pones In(c) Public. I think we learned a lot from the pilot program and we are excited to explore more public spaces and different ways to reach out to the public and allow them to express themselves through movement.
Link to website info: http://www.ponesinc.com/ponesinc/Ongoing_Programs_.html
Example of Pones In(c) Public at IKEA: http://vimeo.com/38636233
People from all over our community came together to celebrate the dedication of the first art bike rack, Tour de Cincy. This bike rack is 1 of 15 in the Queen City Art Racks series: a new initiative to bring artist-designed, functional bike racks to public spaces.
Do you remember the Big Pig Gig (when all those painted pigs were scattered around town)? Now ArtWorks is rolling out Queen City Art Racks to engage artists who create the bike racks and engage our community who use and see them. Art Racks are unique to our community -- designed by local artists and are installed in public spaces all across our region.
Tours de Cincy designed by Pam Kravetz, Carla Lamb, and Karen Saunders
Within a year, we'll have 15 Art Racks scattered across our community, adding to the art all around us and making our community more vibrant.
To celebrate the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, we bring back our biggest hit of the year: the Cincinnati Splash Dance! The Splash Dance is a great example of the way the arts connect us all and make our city such a vibrant, fun place to live, work, play, and stay!
Happy New Year to all!