True Body Project’s Samantha Robinson sat down with Pones, Inc. co-founders Kim Popa and Lindsey Jones to find out what moves them.

As students of Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Dance and Theater, Kim Popa and Lindsey Jones were dissatisfied with using dance just for the sake of performance. 

But when they took a class on experimental and street theater by Darryl Harris, all that changed. They were introduced to a radical new concept: the art of social change. “We saw that the arts could be more than just entertainment, that they could give people a voice and they could empower people,” says Jones.

Upon graduating from NKU, Popa and Jones founded Pones, Inc., a
Cincinnati-based arts organization that uses dance and performance art as instruments for community change. Pones, Inc.'s mission is “to engage communities, spark collaboration, encourage sustainable change, and create educational experiences through original performance art.” They seek to reconnect themselves and others to dance, which they believe is an equalizer; an experience shared by all.

Through a recent Fringe project “Live Documentary of Dance,” Popa and Jones have interviewed over 100 people from pedestrians to professional dancers about their relationship with dance. They found that everyone has a memory of some kind of dance, whether it was dancing at prom, dancing at a wedding, dancing with their father at a young age, or professional dance training. Everyone, no matter who they are or what they do, has a connection to movement and to dance. Yet despite this “intrinsic” relationship with movement, our society has become disconnected to the communal and cathartic core of dance.

“We find so often that it’s not that people aren’t interested in dance, it’s that they're scared of what others will think of them and scared whether they are doing it right,” says Popa. Rejecting the traditional relationship between the performer and the audience member, Pones, Inc. seeks to push dance into a new territory marked by accessibility, flexibility, and participation. Their goal: Dance for the public, by the public.

During the creative process, Popa, Jones, and the artists and friends that
they work with focus on accessible movement rather than highly technical or choreographed movement; “It’s easy to understand. It’s not intimidating. It’s not movement that uses traditional technique and form,” says Jones. Rather, they seek to create inviting movements so that the public can join the performance, many of which take place in public spaces from Main Street to Findlay Market to the Downtown Public Library.

Jones tells a story about a recent surprise performance at the Second Sunday celebration in Over-the-Rhine: “We did a small scale performance, dancing in and around and on a car. What happened was that after we had been performing for a while, intrinsically, people joined in with us. There were kids from the neighborhood on top of the car, there were poets in the car reading their poetry to us, there were professional dancers dancing around the car. All different types
of people.”

This moment encapsulates the Pones, Inc. mission to bring the community together through movement. So, join in. To learn more about Pones, Inc. and upcoming performances and projects, visit their website or their Facebook page.

Learn more about the True Body Project here, or read A-Line's feature on them here.