Most of us, at one time or another, have stopped to listen or watch street performers. Sometimes their acts seem a desperate search for money. But often, they display a significant amount of talent.
It is quite probable that some of the finest artists in the world have never reached a major stage. Becoming a famous singer or musician or dancer, is largely a matter of having your talent “recognized” by someone in a position to take it to a new level.
I have heard and seen street performers in places all over the world who have left me wondering why they aren’t part of something more…something bigger.
Perhaps, for some, it is a conscious choice. They don’t choose celebrity. For most, however, they are invisible because they live in a world that is a parallel universe to our own. We may briefly break free from our individual lives to stop and listen to a marvelous street performer. But the worth of the performance is usually judged by the stage, and an abandoned storefront, underground rail station or park bench, are not the surroundings that merit more than a few moments of our time.
As I watched one of these performances, it became apparent that this dancer did not need to be validated by surroundings. His message to me was, no matter what the stage, we always have the power to control our performance.
The Tap Dancer (In the Cat’s Eye, 2009) is about that street performance which I saw in New York many years ago. The talent displayed, the integrity of the performer, and the ability he had to, literally, stop traffic, remain with me to the present, and are a constant source of inspiration.
Glenn K. Currie
Pounding the sidewalk, filled with fury,
Anxious to make the music hurry,
He moved his feet to impatient beats,
Translating languages of the streets.
His boom box propped against the wall,
Reverberated the rhythm’s call.
Rapping on windows, rattling locks,
Accomplice to the dancer’s knocks.
Then like magic, harmony flows,
Music and motion blend and grow.
A small crowd gathers in the square,
Watching the artist paint the air.
Performing for a jaded few,
On a stage of obstructed view.
A master dances, playing taps,
Talent sold, for coins in a cap.