A Surprising Stage for Dance: The Subway Platform

Logo The New York TimesThe New York Times
2023-05-30 09:01:33  • 4 mins

You can tell when JaBowen is feeling a song. The grounded power of his feet whether tapping delicate, whispery notes or hitting rhythmic patterns with ferocity and speed enlivens an unassuming place: a subway platform.

But beyond his sleek and supple feet, there is simply his presence. With rigor, elegance and humor, he takes the craft of tap seriously while disarming the crowds that pass through his impromptu theater.

Stumbling on JaBowen is like uncovering a New York City art secret. The lucidity of his body and the music that it produces are steadying forces in an unpredictable space. For months now, this Chicago transplant has been bringing quality tap to the uptown F platform at Delancey Street/Essex Street.

What he creates with taps and a wooden board his portable stage is a reciprocal experience. His dances are containers for waves of energy that pass between him and a crowd. He is a dance artist who makes people smile. Of all ages. In the subway.


I get real hyped, and then the audience gets real hyped, and then I lay back a little bit and the audience gets a little quiet, he said. Its like a tennis match going back and forth.

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