Public transportation serves as dance platform

Brittany Johnson

The 2009 Trolley Dances brought dancing to the streets Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 3-4, 2009 starting at the Bayfront E street Station and running down to the San Ysidro Border stop.

Members of the public were encouraged to attend and talented performers unexpectedly greeted trolley passengers.

The 11th Annual Trolley Dances featured the theme: Demystify the Border. Trolley Dances founder, Artistic Director, and Choreographer Jean Isaacs said she was knew the border issue is very much alive and wanted to show the peacefulness and culture the area brings.

Tours ran daily for two weekends. Performances were showcased on from trolley platforms, service yards, parking lots, bicycle racks and border walls. The trolley ride south provided participants a view of a border community, a different side of San Diego.

Spectator Linda Hall was fascinated with the previous events so much that she invited a friend, Ted Hamano, to participate with her this year. Hall and Hamano are current San Diego residents but don’t make use of the trolley. Hamano was afraid of taking this public transport, especially so close to an international boarder. After a few rides on the trolley Hamano said, “The performances are fun and neat and I feel a little better now [riding the trolley].”

San Diego local Irene Bassman has attended this event for 6 years. This year she convinced her daughter, Rae Newoman, to join her. Bassman said, “The dances are amazing. I like the different areas, especially because I never come down here.”
Choreographers from all over the world were brought out to work with the dancers of San Diego Dance Theater. They were presented with the area and allowed to choose what region they envisioned their dance to be. They were permitted no limits and encouraged to use as much of the surroundings and culture as possible.
Choreographer Miroslava Wilson, from a dance company in Tijuana, showcased her dance at the very last piece of rail line before the boarder walls. Her piece, Breath/El Principio/El Fin, was about the struggles of life.

“Life is a game that is already planned,” Wilson said. “As humans we are divided. I want to mix the U.S. and Mexico border.”
Her dance showcased the struggles and pressures one faces every day. The dancers wound caution tape around the area to create division lines and focused on how to push and break them.

Artist director of Epiphany Productions and international choreographer Kim Epifano created a piece entitled Chula Focusing on the Unique Culture of the Area, performed at Palomar Station. She requested six boys and one girl, a VW bus, and put together a soundtrack featuring music from Mexican and American cultures. Epifano commented on her inspiration stating, “The music inspired me because it had a political message and the area is so diverse.”

Tour Guide Rita Farkas, who has been a part of the Trolley Dances for 3 years, enjoyed Epifano’s piece because she is a salsa dancer. Farkas enjoys participating with this event because, “There is so much creativity seen dancing around landscape. The theater is the world.”

Johnny Nguyen, another tour guide, has been with the event for 2 years. “It’s like public art,” comments Nguyen. He received word through the UCSD Dance departments and says his involvement is “a dream come true.”

Nguyen said “It’s great for people who buy the ticket, but it’s even better for those who don’t.” The tour prices range from $15-20, but are free to those who happen to stumble upon the performance.

Tony Robin, Public Relations San Diego Trolley Dances, said word is sent through local newspapers and magazines like the Union Tribune and the Reader. “We also try to advertise on websites featuring local San Diego events.” Word was also spread through email blasting and posters around town.

Isaacs was inspired by a Switzerland art tour on public transportation many years ago and adopted the idea in the states. The reason this event is put on, according to Isaacs is, “public transportation could be stronger here and I want to reach out to people who might not come to the theater.”

The Trolley Dances averages a crowd of around 2,000 to 2,500 people every year from both weekends. It can be found at a new set of stops each year-either new additions, encouragement to visit a particular area, or regions that affect the community.