On a recent weekday, in the midst of the New York City lunch-hour bustle, The DOORKNOB COMPANY created a small miracle in Bowling Green, a park in Lower Manhattan. Dancers turned heads as they playfully mocked the serious attitude of the NYC business class. “This day is so sad!” they exclaimed. The work, appropriately titled “Death of OPTIMISM,” was staged as a funeral.
In black dresses, sneakers and cone hats with yellow smiley faces, the dancers used movement, gesture, vocalization, music, over-the-top expression and sound to create a work that brought a smile to passersby and, for just a moment, a little joy to the lives of hundreds.
This performance was part of Sitelines 2008, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s site-specific performance series. The 20-minute performance began with static marching and contracted hopping. The movement became more frantic, mirroring the busy street beyond. It then turned calm, as the dancers united in a Tai Chi movement formation. Showstopper dance sequences to the tune “Get Happy” provided a rousing dynamic change.
DOORKNOB co-directors Shannon Gillen and Elisabeth Motley, both BFA graduates from Juilliard, seek to “connect to the audience in a real way… [to] create something true, relatable to people of all kinds.” With this performance, Motley and Gillen hoped to “get New Yorkers to be optimistic in a heightened time in the world, to [open them up to] the possibility of thinking optimistically.”
If changing the world one dance step at a time sounds like something you could get into, look for more events as part of the LMCC’s outdoor Sitelines series. Coming up in July, Risa Jaroslow & Dancers will perform their work “311” at the Municipal Building, and the 360° Dance Company will perform “Maktub” at South Street Seaport, Pier 17.