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Small Plots Diary – May 10, 2009 – Old Friends

June 24, 2009

May 10, 2009

Old Friends Re-unite (#2), Hanes Mall, Belk Entrance 1:00pm
Friend #1: Taryn; Friend #2: Rachel

It’s Mother’s Day and rather than fight the crowds at buffet restaurants across the city we’re at the consumer epicenter of Winston-Salem: Hanes Mall. Its shiny storefronts and captive audience (re: men waiting on benches; teens shopping; couples strolling) promise to provide the most public, and highly trafficked stage for Small Plots to date. Our first performance of the day re-re-unites “Old Friends” Taryn and Rachel, whose previous reunion played to puzzled stares, muffled laughs and whooping fans in front of The Rush Fitness Complex on 4th St. They don’t have the workout gear on today, but with an equal share of enthusiasm (and the signature bag of blue corn chips in hand), their secret handshake plays out in front of the Belk Store.

Approach via Escalator

Approach via Escalator

We stand on the second tier of the mall, looking down to the ground floor beside the escalator as Taryn makes her first approach. Rachel advances from the opposite side, looking bemused (and slightly mischievous) as she descends the escalator to a spot framed by the sun’s reflection through an overhead skylight. Surrounded by a ring of kiosks, seating areas, and salespeople, the friends move through their program of snaps, claps and shimmies with an increasing level of proficiency. The sounds echo through corridors and off polished faux-marble floors – drawing a growing number of sidelong glances and whispered questions between curious shoppers. It’s especially interesting to watch a young woman dressed in black (most likely a sales attendant on her lunch break) whose perplexed face turns into a knowing smile on her third pass across the ad hoc stage of Old Friends Reuniting.

The Dance Begins...

The Dance Begins...

A knowing smile

A knowing smile

As an audience member’s “whoop” comes sailing down from the upper gallery of the Mall, Taryn and Rachel move fluidly into extended remix territory. Without shyness, hesitation, or the slightest hint of stage fright, Taryn brings back the portable boombox and the music soon follows. It drifts over the din of the mall as the girls spin and twirl in the center junction of the mall; seemingly oblivious to all that surrounds them. And yet few mall-goers stop to position themselves as “audience” – instead floating somewhere between jaded onlookers and polite dodgers. Do they think this is a mother’s day routine, a mall spectacle, or the whimsical dance of two carefree flower children? True public space is scarce these days, but the stage for public exhibition seems to grow larger every day.

spotlight as stage

spotlight as stage

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