Being a nut for socially conscious art, I feel so fortunate to have seen ConverseNation by Pones Inc. this past weekend; A traveling multi-media dance/spoken-word/video production of the abnormal contrast, yet side by side, worlds of wealth and poverty that make up Over-the-Rhine Cincinnati.
During the last daylight hour in Washington Park, Pones Inc. creates an inviting atmosphere circling their audience members in the grass. Dancers suddenly reveal themselves by stepping forward cued to live music, and after their first routine the crowd is toured through the new/old streets, buildings, and alleyways of Over-the-Rhine. The opposing architecture, and passer-byes tell a thousand stories on their own, but Pones continues to challenge it's audience with searching pieces of dance-theatre and video recorded interviews of diverse perspectives on the abominate word "poverty." The dancers have varying levels of discipline and ability, yet not one of them lacks commitment, which is more than fascinating.
ConverseNation is beyond a work of art, it is an experience. On my tour, when passing people not involved with the production, within twenty yards I was cheekily "welcomed to the city" by shopping bags, then asked for food by worn down clothing. A pure example of why Pones Inc. is producing such important work. I left with the conclusion that while "poverty" and "wealth" play an undeniable role in our society, they should have no effect on how we express and interact with humanity.