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Why Are We Dancing in Public Places?

Dance Farms

The Grasshoppa Dance Exchange is dedicated to the fine and not-so-fine art of Hopping. Essentially, Hops are unannounced performances that take place outdoors in public places. Unsuspecting observers are not solicited for financial contributions. Hops are inspired by the environment in which they hoppen (natural, human, etc.). A Hop may carry a theme, address a reality or propose something altogether different.

The act of bringing dance into unusual spaces is empowering for performers and observers alike. The contract between the audience and dancers is re-written, expectations are side-stepped and risks are revisited. Observers participate in the performance by simply being 'in the way'. The public place becomes a venue of social research and artistic choices; an arena where imagination is celebrated and dancers participate in the actions of the day.

Participation is at the heart of this social movement.

"I came by during the roadside performance today. I loved it. It took me a while to get out of my 'pedestrian' reverie, initially I must admit I was struck by the strangeness of it. The more I saw the more the drums beat and the more I got sucked in. I loved it! Especially when you danced around the man sitting on the bench." -Aris Polyzos, Ottawa, Canada

Photo by Lisa HebertPhoto by Lisa Hebert

Why are we dancing in public places?

1. To be outside
2. To bring attention to overlooked urban landscapes
3. To explore familiar spaces in unfamiliar ways
4. To be liberated from the isolation and limitations of usual rehearsal and performance spaces
5. To recognize that every movement is a revolutionary act
6. To wake up sleeping bodies
7. To propose alternatives to the status quo
8. To meet our neighbours
9. Why not?
10. Changes daily

"I've learned more about politics by dancing in one crosswalk than I have in all my years at University." - Luca, Political Sciences student, Bologna, Italy

Dance Farms

Early on in Hopping experiences, Grasshoppa instigator and director, Maureen Shea, recognized the need to develop a practice that supported and addressed the specific demands of this performance form. 'Dance Farms' are the sessions that precede Hops and include:

  • Warming up the body
  • Learning and refining physical skills including upside-down dancing and shifts of weight necessary for dancing on uneven ground
  • Articulating the response of the senses in order to manage the stimulation of dancing in public places
  • Working together to create and develop movement material while supporting and being supported by each other
  • Crafting and rehearsing 'movement scores'*
  • Choosing and becoming familiar with the Hop site

    • *'Movement scores' include elements of choreography and improvisation. They are a recognizable structure with room for personal exploration, expression and aesthetic choices. Scores are a way of hearing individual voices and of building community by sharing a common focus. They bridge diversity in training, experience and interests.

  • A minimum of three 'Dance Farm' sessions precede each Hop.

Interested in Hopping?

  • Propose a Hop
  • Invite a Grasshoppa to your community to lead Dance Farms and Hops
  • Find out about Hops happening near you and how you can participate
  • Take the idea and make it your own

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