It has been a big weekend for festivities in St. Louis. If you think the downtown area around Tucker Street smells vaguely like oncoming obesity, then you know that you’re close to the ‘Taste of St. Louis’ money-suck/ diet-ruiner which I of course, attended with great joy. Give me a closed-off street with live music and lines of tents from various restaurants around the area any day. I just so happen to know the band that kicked off the whole she-bang on the Charter main stage on Friday.
The Feed was pretty awesome- I didn’t stick around for the Ciara-lookalike follow-up or later, Macy Gray. I was busy doing important things like sampling weird Brazilian food that tasted delicious but had a very strange texture (I may have chewed and swallowed a bone, I can’t be sure) and shovelling a waffle from wafflicious into my face. Oh the diabetic rapture! There were also many live culinary demonstrations and classes and celebrity guests, like that Marc judge from ‘Chopped’. Also on the menu were cooking competitions Iron-Chef style with some of our best local chefs. What stiff competition! Almost as much as the road-rage hunger felt by everyone desperately vying for downtown parking. You think feeding a crowd or a judge or a diabetic ballerina is a challenge- just try keeping those insatiable meters fed and happy. If the whole Taste of StL was a ‘Chopped’ challenge– the necessary ingredients in the basket would be: change for the meters, cash for the food tents, and bug spray if you were on the field near the charter stage. I think some other people in the crowd thought that I was just an eccentric dancer as I was constantly flailing my arms about, but really I was just trying to swat away the vast quantity of gnats flying with gusto towards my eyeballs. The good news was that no one need worry about on-coming digestive troubles as breath-freshening Tums were provided. In fact, it was the first thing I received upon walking past the entrance sign, even before the wafts of over-priced samples hit my olfactory senses. It’s either great preventative care or a bad bad warning.
Then of course, was yesterday’s ‘Dancin in the Streets’ Festival. I was lucky enough to see a few performances- I really enjoyed a pas de deux choreographed by Dawn Karlovsky and the COCA hip hop crew in choreography by Anthony ‘Redd’ Williams on the orange stage. The dancers from Common Thread and I performed a piece, ‘Unity’, choreographed by artistic director Jennifer Medina on the Blue Fox tap stage. Yes, we wore tap shoes. And bells on our wrists. And funky black clothes pulled from the depths of our closets.
I kind-of love this piece, even if tap isn’t what most of us really do. Correction, I loved doing this piece in the studio. During the performance, I wasn’t quite sure if I was dancing on a stage or an ice-skating rink as it was as slippery as a conversation with a convincing liar, and twice as dangerous. It was a case where terror overtook my basic motor skills and I think we all were occasionally off the music, a bad scenario when combined with tap shoes and a microphone-enhanced stage. Clack clack ‘slide’ crash. Does anyone else hear the sound of whimpering in the distance? It’s just my fearful soul crying out, ‘please please gods of dance, let me not slide at break-neck speed right off the stage into the sea of sequin-covered children before me’.
And speaking of crying out in fear (or perhaps disgust), let’s discuss these sequin-covered children for a second. I have to applaud many of these performing groups that were on the music, well-rehearsed, and maintained big smiles without even a trace of grimace from fear of falling or their own hideous costumes. I don’t understand why it is necessary to put anyone but especially young children in these tacky, tight, fringe or feathers or sparkles covered monstrosities. I also do not like it when choreography includes so much booty-shaking. I do not understand how teachers and choreographers think this kind of move, this kind of outfit is either cute or appropriate, and most of all, how proud parents can look at their sweet little seven-year-old doused in make-up, prancing about like a Vegas showchild and not feel a little uncomfortable. It really churns my stomach. Good thing I have those Tums.
Now I know that there are certain kinds of tap where these moves are incorporated into the dancing. The Rockettes, for example, wear tight spangly outfits and do some of those old-school hip-bouncing kind of routines. But they are flawlessly rehearsed and of legal age. I personally feel as though the talent of these kids shines through more brightly without having to compete with five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred sequins. I’m sure when I was a kid of that age, I would have loved those types of costumes. In fact, I’d love to have a frock like that now, but I don’t get down to many rodeos in Branson anymore. A child in something so showy just seems distracting and wrong to me, especially if any wiggling, shimmying, and shaking is taking place. I probably sound like a boring old prude but I believe in preserving a little innocence, and that children emulating adult(ish) styles and behaviors does not emphasize their own youth and cuteness but cheapens them and the work being done. And some of them were really good! So I say good job little street-walkers….I mean dancers. With those outfits, it’s easy to get them confused.