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Dancers Surprise Times Square Pedestrians

By Jill Colvin | July 8, 2011 7:16pm | Updated on July 8, 2011 11:11pm

MIDTOWN — Times Square's pedestrian plazas were transformed into a dance stage Wednesday, confusing legions of tourists in the first of a series of performances by Risa Jaroslow & Dancers.

The work, titled The Partner Project/Scene in Public, is choreographed to showcase intimate interactions between couples, from quiet moments of soft embrace to fear, anger and frustration.

The dancers, dressed in red, began their first performance Wednesday sitting in pairs next to tourists in Duffy Square, before leaping into exaggerated movements and acrobatic stunts.

They later moved through the plazas between 45th and 47th streets, spinning past office workers and tour groups.

"There’s no boundary between audience and performer," said Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins as he watched the debut.

He said he hopes the performance, which will continue through Friday, will encourage people to tune into the drama happening around them every day.

"The performance reminds us there are constantly these small, real-life scenes playing out in public space in new York," he said.

Dancer Paul Singh, who was performing in Times Square for the first time, said he loves the experience of performing off stage.

"I think a lot of the joy of the experience is when you get downtime and get to watch people’s reactions," said Singh, 30, after the performance.

While dealing with locals who are willing to “bowl you over to get where they need to go” is always a challenge, he said he was pleased by how many people stopped to watch.

"It’s all about these 15 seconds. It’s something out of the ordinary," he said.

And while many simply ignored the frolicking around them, others couldn't get over their excitement.

"That's awesome! I think that's so cool!” said Joelle Peikes, 18, visiting from Connecticut.

"It's like Dancing with the Stars on Broadway!" she said.

Mike Bahn and Paige Knapp, both 17 and visiting from York, Pa., said they first thought they were in the midst of a flash mob when they noticed the dancers dressed in red.

"It’s completely unlike anything I've ever seen before," said Bahn, as the dancers spun by.

"It’s beautiful," Knapp added.

But others, like Long Island’s Jen Gentzlinger, 25, seemed more confused than amused by the spectacle.

"You never know in Times Square in New York City," she said.

The performances will continue through Friday with appearances on Thurs. July 7th at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Fri., July 8th at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Each performance begins in Duffy Square lasts approximately 45 minutes.