Amateur Chinatown Dance Collective to Perform on Subways

By Heather Holland on February 10, 2014 9:23am 

Shakedown Dance Collective
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YouTube/Shakedown Dance Collective

CHINATOWN — An amateur dance troupe is taking its routines off the stage and into the city's subways.

The Shakedown Dance Collective, a group of men and women ages 22 to 70 who meet regularly in Chinatown to learn new dances for fun, has spent the past month practicing for a March 3 performance set in the subways of Lower Manhattan.

The three-to-four-minute routine will be performed to Tom Wait’s “Step Right Up,” with the two-dozen dancers portraying characters including con artists and street vendors, said Jamie Benson, who founded the collective a year ago with Deborah Lohse.

“It’s meant to be gritty, where we play greasy, shady characters," said Benson, a 33-year-old Bushwick resident. “We wanted to add more character-driven stuff to the performance. We started with really funky pieces and it branched out quickly into Broadway numbers and post-modern gesture pieces."

The performance is designed to show the characters' emotional journeys, Benson said.

The collective meets at the Chrystie Ballet Academy at 55 Chrystie St. once a week for a two-hour rehearsal. The founders are still looking for dancers of any experience and skill level who want to perform in the upcoming show.

The dancers, who wear costumes that come straight from their closets, have yet to try out their routine in a moving subway car, but they’re planning an on-site rehearsal closer to the beginning of March, Benson said.

“They’ve adapted to a lot of different performance spaces before,” Benson said. “They’re pretty game. We’re totally not worried about it.”

The exact locations of the dances will be announced a day before the March 3 show.

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