Dancer Andrew Lamar has been suspended in mid-leap on the corner of West Pettigrew and Corcoran streets in downtown Durham for over seven years now.
Sun and rain have bleached away nearly all of his color, but have yet to bring him down. That’s because this Lamar is a billboard-sized photograph hung back in 2010 to promote the city’s then brand-new performing arts center.
The 6-foot 2-inch, flesh and blood Lamar never thought his 18-foot self would last this long.
Q: What’s it like to be four stories tall in Durham?
A: “It’s a very strange feeling – I was surprised when (the banner) went up because I didn’t know it was going up.”
Q: Where were you when the photo was taken?
A: It was six months after DPAC opened in 2008, and we had done a site-specific piece there with the American Dance Festival and choreographer Mark Dendy, dancing throughout the lobby area.
We went down to the Golden Belt area to do something similar. We were scouting a space, seeing where we could move, on the top floor of one of the (former textile factory) buildings.
At the time, it was very dirty. We had to wear gloves because we were getting splinters. That photo was a staged shot for photographer (Monica Barco) who was there.”
Q: Why is this banner still up after seven years?
A: “My assumption is, nobody’s thought about it,” Lamar said. “At the time, I think the city wanted to make the area an arts area, and wanted to have an image (representing dance).”
Q: Has Durham succeeded with nurturing the arts?
A: “I’ve talked with (colleagues), and we’re seeing more professional dancers choose to work here rather than saying, “I have to go to New York to do something’… I see more and more people here trying to do as much creative work as they can with what they have. Durham is still developing its flavor.”
Q: You are a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
A: “The school is a great training ground. Now, as I look at Facebook, I find out that a lot of us come back to North Carolina.”
Q: Why do we need the arts in grade schools?
A: (The arts) help us make connections with things that aren’t apparently connected.
I’ve worked with Arts in Action teaching binary code (through movement). The concept of 1’s and 0’s, open and closed gateways, information moving through a processor. … It takes creative thinking in finding these pathways. (Movement) allows the student to perceive data in a different manner. I think the arts in general give people that elasticity of the mind.”
Q: Can you still do the jump pictured on the banner?
A: “Yes … but it might take me a day or two before I’m ready again.”
Lamar is co-director at City Ballet Raleigh, and will be performing in the 2017 Winston-Salem Festival Ballet’s production of Gary Taylor’s “Dracula,” running from Oct. 26-28.
This story was corrected on Oct. 12, 2017 to show that Lamar is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.
Steve Bydal: email@example.com