Students improv dance on Metro, around the city

A student-run improvisational acting group performed on blue-line Metro cars Sunday as part of its participation in the D.C. Improvisation Festival.

“Extraordinary Sightings” was the theme of this year’s festival, which ran from Thursday to Sunday. It included an improvisational dance around rush-hour commuters on K Street and an improvisational skit at the National Art Gallery’s Sculpture Gardens.

The Washington Free Collaboration, a group of 25 student performers, organizes a performance in the multi-act festival every year, said senior Aliza Rudavsky, a member of the collaboration. The group’s aim this year was to perform ordinary images seen on the Metro, such as reading a newspaper or looking at other people on the train, and inject a detailed element of extraordinary quirkiness.

“We decided to make these images more exciting and interesting through subtle and quirky details,” Rudavsky wrote in an e-mail.

The Washington Area Metropolitan Authority, who runs the Metro system, was not informed of the event, Rudavsky said.

“The festival organizers warned me that it was nearly impossible to get (a permit) for the Metro and that as long as we kept our performance pretty minimal, we shouldn’t have a problem,” Rudavsky said. She added that the organizers told her to obey Metro employees if they asked them to stop, which didn’t happen.

The six group members who participated in the festival used copies of The New York Times and USA Today as props for the first half of the performance. The students – who were clustered in the middle of a Metro train – rustled through the papers, which each had holes of varying sizes.

While standing together on the train, senior Carrie Kerstein stared conspicuously through two eye-sized holes in her newspaper while junior Carly Kontra extended her neck through her paper’s gaping cut out.

The group spent the second half of the piece dancing throughout the Metro trains in improvised movements, including swinging from ceiling rails and swaying between poles.

After the 45-minute silent performance, Rudavsky spoke the only words in the performance as the train neared Foggy Bottom.

“Is this my stop?” she asked. The group then filed out of the train and climbed the escalators to 23rd Street.

Rudavsky said the improvisation group has three primary tasks – to bring together student artists of all genres in a collaborative setting; to organize workshops that train students in improvisation; and to host and participate in performances.

“We all know each other really well, so we can respond to each other’s intricate movements,” Kerstein said of the group’s performance. “It makes improvisation infinitely easier.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.