Dance group brings it inside

By Bertha Serrano

Without a care in the world, a trio of dancers head out to the streets once a month to do what they do best-dance for the outside world.

Wearing matching colored outfits and holding a boombox, they pick a route and dance along the streets, blasting their favorite tunes as they invite pedestrians to join their dance party while a fourth person records them.

And on April 10-12, the trio, known as Portable Dance, will host their first ever indoor performance called “House Party” at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield Ave.

After meeting each other while studying dance at Columbia, Suzy Grant, Szewai Lee and Donnell Williams decided to join forces and host portable dance parties every month.  After doing it for a while, they knew it was time to take things indoors and experiment in a new setting.

“Our goal in that was to try and diversify our audience and see how to experience with audiences becoming part of our performances,” Grant said. “A lot of our shows are like that, creating a new audience for our performances.”

Their street routines usually contain influences of song, tap dance, modern dance and theater.  All their moves are improvised and they each have their own interpretation of the music and dances.

Aside from their matching colors, there’s no dress code; being comfortable and warm are their main priorities. Wearing the same colors is a way to unify the trio and their routines.

“House Party” will consist of three different pieces, which they have personally choreographed. The idea for the performance came from the different reactions they observed while dancing in the streets.

Grant said her piece, “I’m Having a Great Time?” will focus on those who are too shy to dance in the street with them.

“I thought it was interesting to see how people were really shy when confronted with this moving dance party on the street,” Grant said. “I, myself, am shy at parties, and I wanted to use some storytelling to get down anxiety and fear that people have about dancing in public and being around people.”

Lee, who is an independent choreographer, has set a goal for herself to make dance more accessible to the public. Her performance in the show, “Something I Left in the Pocket of my Winter Jacket,” was an inspiration from the book, Einstein’s Dreams.

“[The book] has a collage of fictional stories about how people experience time,” Lee said. “I have to do a lot of improvisation and think about my personal stories with the ideas I found in the book, so I put all the elements together in the piece.”

Aside from it being their first indoor performance, the members were faced with more duties than usual. Williams, who is also an independent choreographer, said they had to worry about things like selling tickets and advertising the show all by themselves.

This is the first time he has to worry about what will happen after the show and how to price tickets, whereas in his past performances, other people took care of it. His part, “Cen AB-C,” explores relationships and friendships.

“I was inspired by our great solar system that we ignore because it’s not in front of our face,” Williams said.

The group plans on continuing their portable dance parties, but no indoor performances are planned after this one.

“We’re not looking for money,” Williams said. “We’re just trying to have an interaction or connection with strangers.”

Admission for the show is $12 or $10 for seniors, students and ‘portable friends.’  For more information, visit MySpace.com/PortableDance.