What Barack and Mitt could learn from the Fringe

Sylvain Émard's Grand Continental at Live Arts Festival

1 minute read
If 150 Philadelphians can dance together...
If 150 Philadelphians can dance together...
When it comes to relating to the impossible, artists are different from you and me. The prospect of teaching 150 Philadelphians a half-hour dance routine to be performed in front of the Art Museum steps may strike most of us as impossible. But for the organizers of Le Grand Continental— the Live Arts Festival's opening event— it was just another day at the office.

That got me to thinking: Suppose we approached everyday life as a work of performance art? What if our civic leaders in Philadelphia and government officials in Washington did the same? Maybe we'd solve impossible problems— unemployment? deficits? global warming?— more readily than we thought.

Watching this well-organized spectacle, I found myself swept up in civic pride. Maybe it was the backdrop provided by our skyline: William Penn poised atop City Hall in the far distance. Or maybe it was the way each dancer seemed to retain his or her unique personality: some in street clothes, others sporting sequins or tutus. Maybe when a performance spontaneously turns into an open dance party to Love Train, you can't help but feel hopeful about the future of democracy.

In this divisive pre-election season, our politicians could learn a thing or two from these folks doing the Hustle at the foot of the Rocky steps. And as we theatergoers bop around from performance to performance for the next two weeks, we could do worse than to simply allow ourselves to be infected by the artist's approach to the impossible.♦

To read another comment about Le Grand Contnental by Merilyn Jackson, click here.

What, When, Where

Le Grand Continental. Choreographed by Sylvain Emard. September 8-9 2012 at Philadelphia Museum of Art Steps, 26th St. and Ben Franklin Pkwy. www.livearts-fringe.org.

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