bootleg dance festival


"Mass Transit": A Dance Performance Inspired By Riding L.A.'s Buses

A new dance performance that opens in Los Angeles this week hopes to capture the social choreography we engage in when riding public transit.

If you think about it, riding the bus is a lot like dancing. There's the gentle sweep of the hands to signify that a seat is empty. The delicate pirouette to keep your messenger bag on your shoulder, while gracefully grasping onto the bar above your head. And the synchronized sway of heads when the driver takes a sharp turn. Dancer Jamie Benson noticed this specific type of social choreography during several car-less periods in his eight years in Los Angeles and realized he had to turn it into an actual dance performance. "I was sitting on the 704 from Silver Lake to Santa Monica," he remembers. "The proposal for the show came together in one sitting."

The result is Mass Transit, a 40-minute "bastardized Broadway experience" about the specific physical engagement that public transportation requires. Benson teamed up with costume designer Andrae Gonzalo, a Project Runway alumnus, to create a performance that speaks to the issues of class, race, and space that confront a group of Angelenos every day. "It's about the dynamics between the different personalities," says Benson. "This is a situation with a lot of people in a very small place, some of them are very different from each other, and they're actively trying to avoid each other." In fact, that avoidance is a big part of the show. "What people will do in order not to touch each other!" says Gonzalo. "They twist, the way they move their bodies. That's so Martha Graham!"

Keep ReadingShow less