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Art on the Fly

International Dance Festival - Art on the Fly

International Dance Festival - Art on the Fly

On Saturday, the Seattle International Dance Festival kicked off with an event called ”Art on the Fly”.

Art on the Fly is a collection of ultra-diverse dance pieces performed at three different stations along the Seattle Streetcar line.

The Seattle Street Car at McGraw Square Station

The Seattle Street Car at McGraw Square Station

I started the day shortly after noon at the new McGraw Square Plaza, and was fortunate enough to catch a piece called “Trash Apes”.  This was a very interesting performance where two dancers/actors dressed as apes ran around the plaza playing, grooming, and interacting with human onlookers.  The dancers were so spot-on in their mannerisms that, at times, it was easy to forget that they were humans in costume.

Trash Ape at McGraw Square Stop

Trash Ape at McGraw Square Stop

Trash Ape at McGraw Square Stop

Trash Ape at McGraw Square Stop

While watching the Trash Apes, my group was offered free day passes for the Streetcar.  This allowed us to ride the streetcar and take in as many performances as we wished, free of charge.  This was outstanding.  As there were 3 people with me who did not have ORCA cards, these passes saved us $22.50.

When my primate friends were finished, my group hopped on the Seattle Streetcar and rode to the next performance stop at the Westlake Whole Foods. Here, I watched two performances —  a more traditional dance group, and afterward, a performance piece featuring a woman pushing a ball up a staircase in a performance clearly inspired by the tale of Sisyphus.

Dancers at 2200 Plaza

Dancers at 2200 Plaza

Art on the Fly Perfomance at 2200 Plaza Steps

Art on the Fly Perfomance at 2200 Plaza Steps

Next, we got back on the Streetcar and rode to our final destination, Lake Union Park.

Lake Union Park

Lake Union Park

Lake Union Park Boardwalk

Lake Union Park Boardwalk

Now, if you’ve yet to go to Lake Union Park, I would encourage you to rectify this soon.  It’s arguably the most underrated park in the city.  While Victor Steinbrueck Park and Cal Anderson Park tend to be packed on the weekends, Lake Union Park is typically quite empty. This is a shame.

Aside from the obvious benefit of a dedicated streetcar line, Lake Union Park has some unique attractions such as true freshwater frontage, short pleasure cruises, and my personal favorite — watching sea planes takeoff right before your eyes.  There is also a small pebble beach at the west end of the park where you just might encounter some local wildlife.

Geese at Lake Union Park Beach

Geese at Lake Union Park Beach

Family of Geese at Lake Union Park

Family of Geese at Lake Union Park

Geese at Lake Union Park

Geese at Lake Union Park

Sailing on Lake Union

Sailing on Lake Union

Queen of Seattle on Lake Union

Queen of Seattle on Lake Union

Seaplane Landing on Lake Union

Seaplane Landing on Lake Union

Kayaking on Lake Union

Kayaking on Lake Union

Ships on Lake Union

Ships on Lake Union

Dancers at Lake Union Park

Dancers at Lake Union Park

Toward the end of the afternoon, I caught one of the final performances of Art on the Fly, and this one left me somewhat awestruck.

Shortly after 3:30pm, a group of zombies/demons/post-apocalyptic survivors entered Lake Union Park and began to proceed slowly … very, very slowly … from the parking lot to the pond.  As they were walking, a beat was kept by two musicians.

Lake Union Park Performance

Lake Union Park Performance

Lake Union Park Performance

Lake Union Park Performance

Dancers at Lake Union Park

Dancers at Lake Union Park

Lake Union Park Performance

Lake Union Park Performance

Performer in Lake Union Park

Performer in Lake Union Park

Lake Union Park Performance

Lake Union Park Performance

Lake Union Park Performance

Lake Union Park Performance

Performing at the Fountain (girl is not part of performance)

Performing at the Fountain (girl is not part of performance)

Performing at the Fountain (girl is not part of performance)

Performing at the Fountain (girl is not part of performance)

Lake Union Park Performance

Lake Union Park Performance

Dancers at Lake Union Park

Dancers at Lake Union Park

Performing on the Bridge

Performing on the Bridge

Performing on the Bridge

Performing on the Bridge

Once at the pond, a chorus broke into song while the people/creatures morphed into more happy incarnations of themselves, before heading across the bridge and out of sight.

Again, this entire piece played out very, very slowly.  It took roughly two hours to complete, but I could not manage to pry myself away.

The makeup was fascinating, the facial expressions of the dancers were almost painfully emotional, and the music was haunting.  I watched most of the 2 hour routine, and I have to say that it was my favorite public performance I’ve ever seen.

I’m not 100% sure what it was called, or even what it was technically about, but I found it moving nonetheless.  Clearly I have my own interpretation of the piece, but I’ll spare you all the inner-workings of my own twisted brain.

These few video clips do not do the performance justice, so all I can say is that if you weren’t there, then you missed out:

Download Video: MP4

It really was sublime.

All-in-all, Art on the Fly was a terrific event, and one that I hope you were all able to attend.

I would like to take this moment to thank the performers and the Seattle Streetcar for making it a great day.

Lake Union Park Performance

Lake Union Park Performance

Dance and Music at McGraw Square

Dance and Music at McGraw Square


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3 comments to Art on the Fly

  • Chuckreis

    How many people (spectators) were at the various performances?

    This seems like such a great idea, it brings something normally seen indoors into a new arena and allows it to scale to a size not allowed on a stage.

  • Spectators varied from a handful to about 30-40.

    Most of them seemed caught by surprise. I don’t think many people were aware that it was all going down.

  • SPRUNT

    Rex, this is one of the reasons you can embrace the sun. Because we continually perpetuate that Seattle is always gloomy, rainy, and overcast, when we have the nice weather (especially in spring), it often leads to events like this. Much like a flower, the sun really helps to bring our local culture into full bloom. When it’s nice all the time, it gets taken for granted.

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