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Dancestravaganza adds to Arts Week

The second annual Arts Week got a boost toward one of the goals planning committee members hoped for, as foot traffic began to move back and forth between the Arts and Crafts Festival on Columbus Circle, the Montgomery Street Coop of crafters and the Jazz Festival in Clinton Square. One strategy was to activate the stage at Hanover Square on Saturday afternoon with Dancestravaganza, which drew moderate but appreciative crowds with a variety of dance motifs.

With a highly successful opening and finale, the event, which quickly established itself as a regular addition for future Arts Weeks, kicked off with a delightful youthful half-hour from the Johnson School of Irish Dancing, followed by the Media Unit's Oz Nation Dancers. Joseph Corallo's TKO Showcase blended ballet, modern, jazz and hip-hop, and the Southwest Community Center's Eradication Squad Drill Team added military precision with its stepping.

The faith-based youth group BLAZE displayed powerful narrative movement with their "skance," a choreographed skit Dancing with Jesus, in which good eventually overcomes evil, although sorely tested by bad relationships, alcohol, drugs, self mutilation and suicidal tendencies. The finale, a tribute to Michael Jackson, highlighted George Stroman's one white glove freelancing with requisite ghouls provided by the Media Unit.

But more effort in facilitating movement between the two venues is necessary, according to New Times publisher Art Zimmer, a planning committee member.

"We need signage," he said, pointing to the sawhorses creating a psychological barrier against crossing over East Fayette Street. "The guy is sitting there to stop cars. All you need is two orange cones."

Zimmer noted that Fayette, as well as Warren and Salina Street have traffic zipping along at a pace to discourage casual strolling between the venues. "You don't need to close them off," he said. "Just cops and cones and signs to slow it down. I've been suggesting that for five years, and people say yes, but it just doesn't happen." He also suggested five sandwich signs between venues were needed to provide direction.

Zimmer cited the weather as a major success factor in the 19th annual New Times Street Painting Contest. "The weather was great today," he noted. "I was in charge of that. Shepperd was in charge of the weather yesterday, so he goes to hell in a handbasket."

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