‘Showtime’ Comes To the Brooklyn Museum

May 14, 2015 | Liam Mathews

On Sunday, subway dancers from the WeLiveThis troupe will turn the Brooklyn Museum’s Beaux-Arts Court into a “showtime” stage as part of an installation called “Public Disruption/Private Powers.” The installation will loosely interpret a subway car and allow the dancers to legally perform in order to “explore the relationship between dancers and the public,” according to DNAinfo.

Co-curator Jackie Danziger told DNAinfo that part of the inspiration for the project was to give spectators the chance to voluntarily enjoy the dancers’ routine, since negative reactions to “showtime” are due to the dancers disrupting a commute and not the performance itself.

“People don’t choose to become spectators,” Danziger said. “You are a rider and all of a sudden, because they enter, you’re sort of an involuntary spectator. So, it felt important that in this [piece], people are choosing to see their show and it’s not being forced upon them.”

Spectators will enter the “X train” by writing their hopes and dreams on a Metrocard-shaped paper, reflecting the dancers’ dreams of getting out of the subway and into the entertainment establishment (the Kehinde Wiley exhibit at the museum, which features portraits of black people in regal, aspirational European settings, was another inspiration for the project).

“It was very clear that they see this is one stage of their life,” Danziger told DNAinfo. “From this point on, they really don’t want to be associated with the subway. They just want to be seen as dancers and entertainers.”

Seeing subway dancers outside of their usual setting allows the skill and beauty of their performances to shine through in a way that doesn’t always happen in a cramped subway car, and WeLiveThis are some of the best, so this promises to be an exciting exhibit.

“Public Disruption/Private Powers,” WeLiveThis, Brooklyn Museum, May 17, Brooklyn

(Image: Private Powers Project)