MORRIS – There was dancing in the streets of downtown Morris early Sunday morning when a flash mob took over Washington Street between Liberty and Wauponsee streets.
The flash mob – a coordinated public performance that is planned in advance, often through social media, but appears spontaneous to those watching it – was recorded and will be edited into a DVD.
Brian Nolan and Pat Rooney of Morris organized the event. Nolan said he wants to send copies of the performance to local troops serving overseas.
“We wanted to have faces, people and places that they [the troops] could recognize,” Nolan said. “They could watch and say ‘There’s so-and-so,’ and then everyone at the end of the video would wish them a merry Christmas and happy New Year.”
The flash mob – originally planned for Dec. 22 but rescheduled because of inclement weather – had a much smaller turnout than expected with just seven dancers participating. Nolan said he began inviting community members and local dancers to perform last month and planned to have about 100 to 150 performers total.
In all, five dancers from Pam’s Academy of Dance and community members Lonnie Mathison and LeAnn Leadinghouse came out for Sunday’s event.
“When Brian contacted me, we were all for it. We love community performances,” said Brittney Smith, choreographer for Pam’s Academy of Dance. “A lot of girls couldn’t make it today because of the dates being switched – many of them are on vacation now.”
Nolan, who has made other DVDs about the area, said he wants to personalize the DVDs for each troop by including a special recorded message from each family.
The video begins with Mathison – a professional ballroom dancer and teacher for 20 years – and Leadinghouse waltzing down Illinois Street. They are followed by the five local dancers doing a tap routine in front of Mathison’s gallery, Lonnie’s Arts Gallery.
“Brian Nolan came to me with the idea and I loved it,” Mathison said. “I think he knew that I was a dancer so that was sort of a natural connection for him to come find me.”
Smith said her dancers had practiced the routine for weeks and will be performing the same number at an upcoming competition.
Mathison choreographed the waltz and recruited Leadinghouse to participate last-minute.
“She donated her time and energy and love to practice last night for two hours in the street,” Mathison said.
The video ends with everyone involved in the video wishing the troops happy holidays.
If you are a military family who would like to send a special video message to a loved one serving overseas, contact Brian Nolan at 815-941-2902.