Even though I scattered myself around a bit for the first half of last Friday night, I settled into Krutch Park for most of the evening. Thanks to my new friend Whitney I found out that Circle Modern Dance would team up with our local drum circle and a few local musicians including Laith Keilany to integrate their performances.
When I arrived I found a huge backdrop with sunflowers woven into a wire mesh. Dancers offered a series of performances to live or recorded music. Often I find myself teetering between a mild bewilderment and a mesmerized enchantment when watching the dancers from Circle Modern Dance perform. This night was no exception: I vacillated from confusion to tears. The performance of the woman on the park bench waiting to die hit me very close to home and I found myself overcome with emotion.
A crowd of several hundred in Krutch Park for the performance there probably rivaled the size of the crowd on Market Square for the movie. I’d attended drum circles downtown before and found a half-dozen drummers and a couple dozen listeners. I hope the groups will continue to merge their talents because obviously the synergy is great and the crowds dwarfed previous gatherings. The fact that probably thirty drummers were on hand enhanced the rhythms and large numbers of people danced and hooped on the lawn.
Other performers also joined in, including the guy with the massive ribbon of cloth. I found his work to be both beautiful and incredible. I’ve seen enough people try to replicate his efforts to realize the difficulty. At the other end of the park – which is a good thing since fabric and fire are not a good combination – the fire jugglers, twirlers and eaters set up shop. Drummers shifted into a position to play for them and they worked their fire magic for an hour or more.
I finally got tired and, hoping my 130+ pictures would yield enough good ones to tell the story, I walked over to the French Market for some excellent Italian coffee which I drank at an outside table listening to the drums spin their repetitive cycles into the night. The fire, visible in flashes through the crowd across the street, silhouetted passers-by. Friends stopped and spoke. The people at the table next to mine spoke French.
Eventually, the circle narrowed to fewer drummers, the fire lost its glow and the crowd began to disperse. Sometime after 10:00 I walked toward Market Square through the crowds leaving the movies. I spoke to a couple of old friends I seldom see. I talked briefly to Sean McCollough and stopped to marvel at the huge crowd gathered around Harvey Chapeau for a late night magic show. The guy continuously amazes.
So, as Friday night in Knoxville concluded, I’d see art, drums, dance, fire and magic. I’d heard excellent music, enjoyed Italian coffee while listening to a conversation in French. Every night should be so enchanting.