Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

How Subway Dancing Became A New York City Art Form — And A Crime

When I see this post, I feel sorry for those breakers especially for those who have been arrested and leaved criminal record for their rest of life. Life is not easy for most of them, and one of them says “If he finds a steady job as a janitor, he said, he’ll stop hitting”. Subway dancing make them live a better life, to pay their tuitions, rent and even support family. To them, street/subway dancing is also a way to express themselves and be educated in the field, like one family that “the parents can’t afford to send their kids to formal dance classes, but the streets and trains have provided the boys with a rigorous, if informal, education”. However, I can also understand the complain from passengers, though I haven’t experience that, that too much subway dancing is kind of annoying and disturbing.  The tension seems not to be eased off.

Another emerging dance form site-specific dance that is well choreographed, organized and presented in specific sites comes to my mind. To figure out if there is a solution to help, let’s compare the street/subway dance to site-specific dance. The common place is that they all performed in the public sites, and rely on surrounding environment. And the major differences in my eye are: 1) Performers in site-specific dance are hired and a team or company supports the whole process, while street dancers usually dance for their own individually or in a team.  2) The organizer of site-specific dance asks for permit or is able to get the permit for performing in specific sites, while street dancers don’t or are not able to do that.  So can we create street dance organization (maybe nonprofit) to hire those talented dancers to perform on the street/subway, where we are able to gain permit? I think the people in charge will take more seriously in an organization than just individuals.  The image might be impractical, but what’s the limitation? Hope anyone can answer my concern.

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About yaoge2016

Yaoge Wang is an emerging arts administrator dedicated to arts, culture, and nonprofit sector. With Accounting and Arts Management backgrounds and a special mix of “right brain/left brain” balance, she brings strong analytical skills and judgment as well as creativity to complex problems. She has extensive professional experience in the U.S. and China. She hopes to apply this international perspective to make the arts more visible to the public.

2 comments on “How Subway Dancing Became A New York City Art Form — And A Crime

  1. shrulala
    October 30, 2014

    I love the idea of a nonprofit to support street dancers. The administrators can get the funding and permission in place and the dancers can dance and maybe even travel world wide with their acts. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated art but the beautiful street entertainment!

  2. dianalfreeberg
    November 1, 2014

    I’ve always enjoyed street dancing, so perhaps I’m biased, but this makes me wonder. If street performance is uncensored, what art can begin with it? Is censorship that vital?

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