A crowd spontaneously breaks into a synchronized dance–boom!–you have been flash mobbed. It takes imagination and effort to mount an out-of-nowhere dance number on an unsuspecting public. Paula Broussard, founder of L.A. Dance Mob (now Dance Mob Nation), lets us in on how it all comes together.
How did you get involved in the flash mob phenomenon?
I’m an ex-dancer, did musical theater and produced dance events in the ‘80s, but I hadn’t really danced in years and found myself way out of shape. I first saw a flash mob on an episode of Weeds and immediately discovered lots of other great spontaneous dancing on YouTube. I participated in a few and loved it, and decided I wanted to produce my own events. I thought it would be a great way to get back into shape, resurrect my producing skills and be involved in some amazing surprises. So L.A. Dance Mob was born. I’m a big Glee fan, and I love the classic movie musicals, so I love creating musical numbers.
What are some of the challenges in pulling off the element of surprise?
We try to come up with a creative and original way to start each dance, which can sometimes be a challenge. There are a lot of elements to anticipate as we have to be prepared for whatever scenario might happen. Often we have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C in case things don’t go as predicted. We’ve done a few birthday surprises and the look of joy on the person’s face is so rewarding. We’re still waiting for a really big one where we can really get creative and pull out all the stops for a special person, like a wedding proposal or something.
What sort of commitment does volunteering as a dancer require?
Each event is custom choreographed for the occasion, and we create the dance, tape an instructional video, and send it to our flash mobbers about 2-3 weeks prior to the event. You can rehearse at home until the week before the event when we schedule big rehearsals for everyone to join and practice. We also have a practice the day of the flash mob. The rehearsals are fun! We work with all levels and try to use everyone’s level of ability to the best advantage. We’re hoping we get people involved with dancing who never thought they could.