The eleventh Denver Arts Week, which runs November 3 through November 11, got off to an awkward start on the mezzanine of the Buell Theatre this morning, November 2, when Mayor Michael Hancock got schooled in hip-hop.
The feel-good event also starred Jayne Buck, Visit Denver vice-president of tourism, and Janice Sinden, Hancock's former chief of staff turned CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, all speaking to a giggling press, bribed with pastries and fruit, about the city's commitment to the arts and the wonders of Arts Week.
Hancock talked about how the week is part of Imagine 2020, a major cultural visioning process that the city is halfway through. He praised himself for doling out $2,020 to each Denver City Council member so that they can in turn dish it out to creatives in their districts to create Arts Week projects, which will be on display starting First Friday, November 3 (he assured us that $2,020 times thirteen is a lot for his office to give). In the mix of what councilmembers funded with the dough: zumba dancing, Latin soul, and Ghanaian and Burmese fiber art.
"Denver is on stage all week long," punned Buck, citing free days at the museums, First Friday art walks and many more events that will be held over the next nine days.
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Sinden, whose DCPA is hosting the Breakin' Convention this weekend, which is billing itself as the world's largest breakdancing gathering, listed a string of local crews that would be participating in the event, along with a host of other artists: Michele Rocqet on beatboxing, Bianca Mikahn on spoken word, and Ietef Vita on vegetables and hip-hop.
Then came the event that all of us suckers in the media had come for: the mayor learning hip-hop dance moves from internationally renowned French artist Salah. "We're gonna pop it," quipped Sinden, as the dancer came to the front of the crowd.
Then Salah, who said he was enthusiastic that he was teaching a mayor how to dance for the first time, gave both Hancock and Sinden a few moves to try out. They struggled with their jackets and chortled as their bodies tried to keep up.
The media gobbled it up; the mayor shuffled out. And now the real Denver Arts Week can begin. For more information on what should be a spectacular nine days of first-rate culture, visit Denver Arts Week online.