This summer’s massive River to River Festival is in its final days. The last dance program of the season, Window, is being presented on Lower Broadway all this week at lunchtime.
Created by Bill Shannon, Windows is presented to two audiences simultaneously: pedestrians on the street and viewers observing through the windows of a nearby skyscraper.
The Step Fienz, a crew of breakdancers, accompany Shannon (also known as “the Crutchmaster”), as he performs on a skateboard and crutches, weaving in and out of traffic, flipping and spinning, startling drivers and engaging passers-by with his grace, athleticism and humor.
Those who entered the lofty viewing space (located in an ordinary business office) were able to see live video closeups of the action below and listen to recorded music mixed with Shannon’s comments and street noise. The same music is played outside, but only on the dancers’ earpieces.
Passers-by can’t hear the music, see the audience gathered at the office windows (unless they look up and squint), or view the cameras positioned above. As a result, most of the people on the street don’t realize they are witnessing (and participating in) a carefully-planned performance. The spontaneous interactions between the unsuspecting pedestrians and the dancers are, in and of themselves, vital parts of the show.
The crutch and skateboard, while important elements of the dance, are not simply used for dramatic effect. Shannon’s dance technique—known as the Shannon Technique—is one he invented out of necessity. Born with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (a rare hip deformity), the dancer and choreographer has spent most of his life on crutches.
He has traveled and performed around the world, won numerous awards for his work and choreographed Cirque de Soleil’s production, Varekai. A documentary about Shannon, entitled Crutch, is scheduled to premiere at film festivals this fall.
Village Voice: ‘Crutchmaster’ Takes Dance to the Next Level
Cirque du Soleil: Bill Shannon
Time Signature Productions: The Step Fienz
MySpace: DJ Excess
River to River Festival
LMCC Sitelines: Window
The New Yorker: Window