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Dancers perform while distancing on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg

The audience walked, biked and drove by in cars along First Avenue S in the Grand Central District.

ST. PETERSBURG — A unique performance happened Saturday when 24 area dancers clad in white distanced themselves along three blocks on First Ave. S, between 26th and 23rd streets.

One dancer started a move and the next would pick it up just as the first had almost completed it, giving the effect of a flipbook.

For an hour, through 25 cycles of movement, they performed a durational dance to a chorus of bicycle bells, the whoosh of city buses and cars honking in appreciation.

The program was called “Reverberation,” the first in a series of public performances conceived by choreographers Andee Scott and Amanda Sieradzki called “Dance in the Time of Coronavirus.”

Related: Dozens of dancers will perform on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg

Because theaters and studios have been closed due to Covid-19, dancers haven’t had a place to perform. Scott and Sieradzki are interested in bringing dance outside of the theater, but wanted a way to do it safely.

“We were saying that you can only feel a certain way for so long before you have to just put something out there and create,” Sieradzki said.

She said that it was nice to connect with the community. They’re talking about ways they can fold the community into these works a little more.

“I’m always keyed into how dance can be part of a greater dialogue," she said.

Scott choreographed the piece and taught the dancers over a video. They rehearsed via Zoom.

On Saturday, the dancers spread 10 feet apart. Each dancer was sent a location pin for where to go when they arrived, to avoid congregating.

Nicolay Dorsett dancing in "Reverberation," a socially distanced dance performance on the streets of St. Petersburg on Saturday.
Nicolay Dorsett dancing in "Reverberation," a socially distanced dance performance on the streets of St. Petersburg on Saturday. [ ALVARO G. GABALDON | Courtesy of Andee Scott ]

Bicyclists slowly rode by in the bike lane, taking pictures with their phones. One seemingly oblivious guy rode right down the sidewalk that the dancers were on.

Bicyclists watch "Reverberation," a socially distanced dance performance on the streets of St. Petersburg on Saturday.
Bicyclists watch "Reverberation," a socially distanced dance performance on the streets of St. Petersburg on Saturday. [ MAGGIE DUFFY | Times ]

Pedestrians watched from the sidewalk across the street. Most were wearing masks. Signs were placed along the sidewalks asking people to “be kind” and keep moving to avoid crowding up.

Chad Bratschi and Chris Nobels live in Historic Kenwood. They know Scott and were effusive about the performance.

“That’s something we need in the world right now,” Bratschi said. “So much change is taking place and it’s not always a happy feeling we’re experiencing. So it’s just good to come together as a community and experience something like this that reminds us what’s really good about being human with movement and dance.”

“It goes to show what Tampa Bay is and St. Petersburg is,” Nobels said. “Finding new ways to enjoy life and art and experience without letting anything get us down.”

Scott said she was “blown away” by how the performance turned out. She spent the hour live-streaming the performance, checking in with dancers to tell them how much time was left and giving them Capri Suns.

Sieradzki said it went better than expected, although they never know what to expect with site-specific performances.

She said that many of the dancers haven’t seen each other in the flesh in months and could notice a difference in their performances from the Zoom practice.

Dancers perform "Reverberation," a socially distanced dance performance on the streets of St. Petersburg on Saturday.
Dancers perform "Reverberation," a socially distanced dance performance on the streets of St. Petersburg on Saturday. [ ALVARO G. GABALDON | Courtesy of Andee Scott ]

Dancer Alex Jones said that seeing and hearing people was refreshing especially after being inside for so long.

He said the experience was meditative and referred to the dance as a ripple, with people of different ages, ethnicities, gender, sexualities rippling.

“There’s something powerful about that,” he said. “I think about Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter resurfacing, rippling and everyone’s affected by it. So that was kind of beautiful to be inside of it and experience. It gave me a chance to work some things out.”

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