Entertainment

Charlotte celebrates National Dance Day, graffiti in two events

jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte celebrated National Dance Day and the art of graffiti Saturday afternoon in two events put on by Blumenthal Performing Arts.

Graffiti Jam was rescheduled to coincide with Charlotte’s third annual celebration of National Dance Day after being rained out in April, since the event showcases the art of graffiti and breakin’ dance in preparation for the upcoming Breakin’ Convention on Oct. 9-10.

Before either event began, a small flash dance mob popped up at Central and Thomas Avenues at 11:15 a.m. Shannon Wightman-Girard with Dance Trance Charlotte organized the event, and hopes to have enough participants next year to fill all four corners of the intersection.

At Wells Fargo Plaza, National Dance Day attendees watched 13 local dance groups perform and learned five group numbers, including this year’s National Dance Day routine. The routine was developed by Twitch, an alumnus of the show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

“It’s really cool to think that you’re here learning the same dance as someone in Los Angeles,” said Michelle Youngs, Blumenthal’s assistant director of education.

Dance group performances and other group numbers gave Charlotte’s third annual celebration of National Dance Day a local flavor as well as diversity – hip-hop, ballroom, Bollywood, belly dancing and samba were among the styles of dance represented.

“It’s everybody coming together to celebrate their passion for dancing,” said Tom Hill, owner of Fuzion Force Entertainment Academy. “Everybody from grandma on down is out here dancing.”

Two blocks down Tryon Street at the old Goodyear Auto Service Center, Tron Robinson’s students cheered each other on in a breakin’ dancing cipher. Robinson teaches at Fuzion Force and Kadi Fit studio in Cornelius. “A cipher is a circle of dancers,” he explains, in which individual dancers take turns showing off moves.

When it was William Stillwell’s turn, he grabbed five members of the crowd and had them crouch in a line. He slowly walked backward to get a running start, then hurtled over them, completing a flip in the air. “My record is seven people,” the 23-year-old said, who practiced for three days before he successfully landed a flip.

Across the parking lot, three local graffiti artists helped children and adults try their hand at spray painting on a canvas. Ian Mele, 35, was happy to see kids painting their initials and smiley faces. “It’s expression,” he said.

“It’s good to teach the kids that they can pick up some spray paint but not to go do it on a building right there, do it on a canvas,” Mele said.

He thinks outdoor graffiti has value, though: “It’s beautification. I don’t want to walk down the street and walk past all brown buildings. The city’s not doing nothing with them.”

Capwell: 704-358-6194; Twitter: @jessicacapwell

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