By Bobby Wesner, Neos Dance Theatre
For the first time Neos Dance Theatre participated in Downtown Akron Partnerships’ Art Walk. The night started with a murmur of activity as we checked in at the Northside location and hopped on the Trolley to our first scheduled location. The Trolley guide had a hot dog in hand and was eager to tell us about the walk. Our only instructions were to mimic the Random Acts of Culture activity that has sprouted up across the nation through initiatives by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. So we hit our first location, We Gallery, and were pleased to find another artists strolling through the exhibit with a guitar in hand and singing tunes that were recognizable, but uniquely his own. The four Neos dancers fit into the crowd, talked with them, looked at the artwork on display, and then randomly burst out into both improvisational and choreographed movement. At one point I think I saw two dancers rehearsing some movement they learned earlier in the day at rehearsal. It added to the fullness and life of the Gallery and gelled well with the musician whom we had never met.
Summit Art Space was our next location, and possibly my favorite for dance and instillation style art/dance. Without any music we ended up playing movement games when a door bell sounded every so often. With a film festival going on upstairs and an exhibit in the spacious gallery it would ring a lot! ‘Ring’ – spell the name of the painting in front of you with different parts of your body. ‘Ring’ – interpret the painting with movement. ‘Ring’ – come together to move like a flock around the gallery. At one point a woman joined in and asked many questions about who, what, where, why. The dancers also enjoyed the windows as did the onlookers waiting for the Trolley.
Next – the Ice House! This was my first time there and will not be the last. Neos is relatively new to serving the Akron area so viewing these spaces was as equally exciting for me as dancing. And there was music! I’ve never heard such a cool sounding Oboe! I didn’t even think that was possible. This was where our largest movement happened all evening and probably the largest crowd. The installation pieces seemed to dance through the exhibit themselves as they hung from the ceiling and tied pieces of white painted industrial material together with white cord and fabric.
The four of us got on the Trolley again and went back to Northside to dance alongside a stilt walker and contact improv to a beautiful string quartet playing outside. We finished the evening there dancing on the sidewalk as pedestrians passed by a Steel Drum Band performing outside the Akron Symphony’s offices.
Congratulations Akron, we have something very cool going on here. Neos was happy to be a part of it.