Anyone enjoying a beautiful afternoon at the Sample Gates was in for an unexpected surprise at precisely 12:07 p.m. Friday.
Pedestrians were caught off guard when “Firework” by Katy Perry started playing and more than 100 students joined in a choreographed dance.
Dustin Stephan, a dance instructor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, combined his beginning hip-hop class, two beginning social dance classes and one intermediate social dance class to put together the flash mob.
“It was my goal to give a performance opportunity to my students that they wouldn’t normally be involved in,” Stephan said. “I had seen a couple of really great flash mobs online and wanted to stage something similar for the IU campus, give the opportunity for people to witness something here at Indiana University that they might not see
Stephan added choreography from the classes into the flash mob dance that was related to the concepts and steps that he taught in the classroom. He said he hoped that having a flash mob at the Sample Gates would be a good way to give his students an opportunity to perform that was far from ordinary.
“For me, a flash mob breaks the barrier of what is considered traditional performance and blurs the lines between spectator and performer,” Stephan said. “In this digital age of mass media, creative approaches to performance are needed to vie for an engaging audience.”
Participants danced to a medley of four songs including “Firework” by Katy Perry, “Opposites Attract” by Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul, “Till the World Ends” by Britney Spears and “This is Indiana” by Brice Fox and Daniel Weber.
Pedestrians, such as senior Nimrod Ginsburg, were pleasantly surprised.
“I had no idea what was happening but more and more people kept joining and it was crazy,” Ginsburg said. “I’ve never seen something like this before, only on ‘Modern Family.’”
Dancers, including senior Michelle Crain, were very excited for the highly anticipated performance.
“We have been practicing ever since late February for this. We were really excited for it to finally happen,” Crain said. “It was really thrilling. I didn’t expect this many people and we never practiced it with so many people so this was awesome.”
Some dancers, including sophomore Taryn Rosenberg, were glad to add their participation in the flash mob to their list of memorable experiences at IU.
“I got to cross it off my bucket list,” Rosenberg said. “It was so exciting to see how people gathered and our hard work really paid off.”
Some audience members, like sophomore Alyssa Lapin, were let in on the secret.
“I came to watch my best friend. She has been practicing at home for weeks and it was really exciting to see the real-life performance,” Lapin said. “It was honestly so much bigger than I expected.”
Stephan said he was happy all the effort led to the successful final performance.
“It was exciting for me to see so many spectators congregate around the mob and enjoy the students’ work,” Stephan said. “I’m extremely proud of all of the work the students put in to create such an amazing performance.”