On Friday evening a band of Bushwick artists wearing nothing but underwear and leotards gathered in front of the Lincoln Center in Manhattan and for three hours unfurled a guerilla-style conceptual-dance that gathered crowds and polarized even hardened New Yorkers.
“I think it’s absolutely disgusting. I think it’s crazy,” said Faith Johns angrily. Johns was pushing her child in a stroller along the sidewalk when she came across the performers and immediately voiced outrage at their performance before hurrying away. She was not alone. Tamika Dehoney, a Metropolitan Opera House employee, was equally perplexed. “This is your brain on drugs. They on roofies. We didn’t do this in school,” she exclaimed.
Although the Lincoln Center is one of largest art spaces in New York City, there wasn’t much room on Friday for the event. The security guards and NYPD forced the performers off the center’s steps and onto the sidewalk, which is public property. The irony wasn’t lost on Looping co-founder Fritz Donnelly, “Lincoln Center, cultural nexus, home of high art, doesn’t allow dancing on the steps.” I asked the NYPD for a comment but they declined.
NYPD at the Looping Event, not having fun.
The performers, led by Mathew Silver and Fritz Donnelly, refer to the improvisational dance as Looping. Donnelly describes the art as a, “free form participatory performance where everyone listens to and leads each other.” The name is both a reference to La Lupe, the Bushwick restaurant in front of which their first performance occurred, and to the metaphysical nature of a loop.
Mathew Silver, the group’s co-founder, stresses Looping’s clean and drug-free nature, as well as its spiritual aspects. “Too many people live a life that was created by the Waistland, no heart, no soul, just doing what other people are telling them to do. Looping is a portal for conscious awakening of the inner child,” he told me after the event.
Matthew Silver in action.
However, several passersby decided to join the performers, and were enthralled with their experience. “I feel like connected with New York City in a physical and mental way,” said Bushwick resident Roxanne Saba, 29, after she finished Looping. Manhattan resident Wayne Fletcher, 43, also enjoyed Looping, “It’s great fun. I feel the energy. I feel alive. I feel like a free spirit. Togetherness. Oneness.”
For most casual on-lookers the event was a welcomed way to liven the evening. Even though it disrupted her graduation ceremony, English and Photography graduate Nicole Hill enjoyed the impromptu performance, “It’s such a big art school. We welcome it,“ she said. Adam Halbert, 35, enjoyed how the event shook things up around the typically somber Lincoln Center, “We exist, but we don’t necessarily recognize everyone around us. We’re all just monkeys dressed up in suits.”
Roxanne Saba, Looper
Looping will recommence by the Morgan Stop during Bushwick Open Studios on June 6th. This time Looping will raise awareness of “gentrification, rising rents, and the awesome new endeavors of art and community happening,” Donnelly told me. Check out the Facebook group and get your sunblock and underwear ready Bushwick!