*title taken from Party Done by Angela Hunte and Machel Montano
Soca Flash Mob in Brooklyn
Search for the term online, and you may find flash mob defined as "a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place and perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time before quickly dispersing." Seemingly pointless does not apply to the soca flash mob that took to the streets in front of the Barclay's Center on Saturday, August 29th. The point was to positively showcase Caribbean culture and to make history.
When Oba Stephens decided to do a soca flash mob, he intended to have a small group of people converge on a public street and execute a brief dance routine. Having been in flash mobs before, he understood the logistics of getting the word out and providing detailed information to participants, while simultaneously keeping the details private. He sent out invites on Facebook, believing that he would be able to convince fifty people to take part. Overnight the number of respondents grew to 175. Word soon got out as people told friends, shared the invites, and announced the plan on social media. It wasn't long before Stephens was inundated with over 2,000 responses.
As an event organizer, he realized that managing a production of this size would take more than planning, but it would take cooperation and coordination. There was just one thing missing. Stephens sent word out that he was seeking someone who could not only dance, but could choreograph a routine for the large group that signed up for his soca flash mob...and do so within one month.
Enter Kiara Ross.
Stephens had neither met nor seen Kiara Ross dance, but he trusted the many people who told him that she would be able to bring about his vision. Ross, a dance instructor with a degree in Dance from Queens College, has expertise in ballet, hip hop, modern and jazz dance, West African dance, and a natural ability to wine down to Caribbean music due to her Trinidadian and Belizean background. She, alongside her CarNYval Dancers team, has performed with Alison Hinds, Patrice Roberts, HypaSounds, and Trinidad Groovy Soca Monarch Olatunji. Ross also teaches dance and fitness classes around the city so she is familiar with crafting dance routines for those with varying degrees of ability.
The collaboration was a success, despite the two meeting in person only one time prior to the day of the event. Stephens had taken care of the details including coordinating with the Barclay’s Center, working with HUB New York to secure production equipment, getting Xtreme Sounds to supply the music, and finding a vendor to sell flags to the group so that they would be able to show off their Caribbean pride. Ross managed the rehearsals and even created step-by-step videos for those who had to learn the moves virtually.
For a dance routine that lasted two minutes, the impact of this event is immeasurable. Caribbean pride was on display for the world to see. Photographers, videographers, bloggers, and even News 12 was on site to capture the historical moment and the videos have been seen in London, Canada, and the Caribbean.
If you were unable to be a part of this year's flash mob, don't worry. Oba Stephens is organizing another one next summer and I am sure he can expect an even larger turnout.
Check out the full video captured by Fermin Photography: