Dancers portray the homeless in San Diego.

Audience looks down with expectation as a dancer portrays a homeless person during the first stage of 2018 Trolley Dances at Hazard Center.
Audience looks down as a dancer portrays a homeless person during the first stage of 2018 Trolley Dances at Hazard Center.

This morning I watched the first dance of the 2018 Trolley Dances at Hazard Center shopping mall. This unique annual event is a production of the San Diego Dance Theater.

Arriving early, I stood a couple of floors above the outdoor performance, and let my eyes wander about as I took in the entire scene.

The first dance portrayed the homeless. As the invisible curtain rose, dancers, who sat alone among their scant possessions, rose and converged in a dizzy, tragic performance.

Two male dancers tussled over a shopping cart, but that seemed to be the extent of their malice. The twisting dance showed troubled souls coming together, having a moment of hope and happiness, raising each other up before departing to go their separate ways.

After the first dance ended, I followed the mobile audience as they were led west down the nearby San Diego River Trail to the next outdoor stage. Chairs were set up short of the place where Highway 163 crosses Mission Valley.

I continued walking. What I saw thereafter wasn’t part of the program.

As the audience gathers on the south side of the Hazard Center shopping mall, one performer appears be homeless, sitting alone.
As the audience gathers on the south side of the Hazard Center shopping mall, one performer appears be homeless, sitting alone.
The gathered audience awaits the first outdoor dance of 2018 Trolley Dances.
The gathered audience awaits the first outdoor dance of 2018 Trolley Dances.
The performance begins, and another dancer rushes on to the stage.
The performance begins, and another dancer rushes onto the stage.
Dancers converge in front of the audience. The dance portrays different people who are homeless.
Dancers converge in front of the audience. The raw, disturbing dance portrays the lives of different people who are homeless.
Dancers move about fluidly, showing a variety of emotions, including pain, loss, uncertainty, anger, hopelessness.
Dancers move about fluidly, showing a variety of emotions, including pain, loss, uncertainty, anger, hopelessness.
A shopping cart is a focal prop. Seen from above, it is actually empty.
A shopping cart is a focal prop. Seen from above, it is empty.
Performers tussle over the shopping cart, while a nearby couple dances.
Performers tussle briefly over the shopping cart, while a nearby couple dances.
The dancers spread out and face the audience.
The dancers spread out and face the audience.
The dancers move together, as if suddenly animated by a unifying energy.
The dancers move together, as if suddenly animated by a unifying energy.
One dancer is raised up by the others.
One dancer is raised up by the others.

The dancers exit the stage by struggling up two sets of stairs at Hazard Center.
The dancers finally exit the stage, struggling up sets of stairs at Hazard Center.
They return to take their bow. There is great applause.
They return to take their bow. There is great applause.
The dancers collapse and lie on the concrete.
The dancers collapse and lie on the concrete.
This performance is over.
This performance is over.
The audience will be led across the street and on to the next nearby dance location, on the path by the San Diego River.
The audience will be led across the street and on to the next nearby dance location, on the path by the San Diego River.
What the audience did not see. An empty drug baggie as the bottom of some stairs behind Hazard Center. Very few people use these particular stairs.
What the audience did not see. An empty drug baggie at the bottom of some stairs behind Hazard Center. Very few people use these particular stairs.
The audience heads west along the San Diego Trolley tracks.
The audience heads west along the San Diego Trolley tracks.
The mobile Trolley Dances audience is guided through a short stretch of Mission Valley along the San Diego River toward the next unique stage.
The mobile Trolley Dances audience is guided through a short stretch of Mission Valley along the San Diego River toward the next unique stage.
Empty chairs and graffiti on a construction wall await at the next Trolley Dance stage.
Empty chairs and graffiti on a construction wall await at the next Trolley Dances stage.
This is as far down the path the audience would venture.
That is as far down the path the audience would venture.
Had they proceeded farther, they would have reached a place where many homeless gather--in shadowy places beneath Highway 163.
Had they proceeded farther, they would have reached a place where many homeless gather and take shelter–in shadowy places beneath Highway 163.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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