Wake Up! Waltz Dancers Brighten Up Commute from Logan Square Rooftop

By Victoria Johnson on May 14, 2013 12:40pm 

LOGAN SQUARE — For the next few weeks, drivers along Fullerton Avenue will be treated to an unusual sight — brightly clad dancers frolicking across the Haas Park Fieldhouse rooftop.

The spectacle is part of the Wake Up! Waltz, created by artist Josie Davis to engage morning commuters and bring art to a public domain.

Dancers will perform Monday through Thursday mornings at 9 a.m. on four rooftops — the Haas Park Fieldhouse, 2402 N. Washtenaw Ave., as well as two in Uptown and one in South Shore.

The Haas Park performances will take place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings through June 6.

"Really, it's to kind of awaken people to other things that can happen in their daily lives," Davis said. "I think art and culture is something that can be a normal and integrated part of people's daily commute and daily workday."

The 32-year-old artist said she came up with the idea while riding the 'L' train and looking out at the city's buildings.

"I was kind of inspired through the architecture here," she said. "The rooftops are all eye level from the train platforms, and I wanted to see something more colorful and vibrant just to kind of wake myself up."

The dancers come from various companies and backgrounds and auditioned to participate at the Joe Hall Dancer Center, who Davis said has been very supportive of the project.

The dancers admitted Tuesday morning that jumping around on a roof can be a little unnerving.

"The first day we danced on the [Haas Park] platform we found it shakes a lot, and that was an experience," said dancer Lara Mercurio.

Indeed, the part of the roof that hangs over the fieldhouse entrance is designed to move with the wind and lurches quite a bit as the dancers jump around creating a somewhat unsettling effect.

Still, they said they they've gotten more accustomed to dancing on roofs as they've prepared

"I think initially it's a little bit nerve-racking, but as it goes on we'll get more and more comfortable," dancer Alia Simon Montijo said.

Choreographer Garrett Kling took a turn from his figure skating choreography to arrange the unusual rooftop dances, which came with some inherent challenges.

"First thing, there's not really a ledge [at the Haas Park Fieldhouse], so safety was first and foremost," he said.

But once they got past that, Kling said he enjoyed creating the special visual treat for morning commuters.

"It's fun seeing that bright flash of color," he said. "It's kind of a magic spectacle to see that on a roof."

Three different dances are being performed in the different neighborhoods, but Davis said at some point they will switch them up.

The project has a June 1 deadline to raise $6,000 for stipends to pay dancers. To donate, click here. For more information, visit the event website.

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