10 Different Types of Street Performers

Street performing acts are as vast and varied as the imaginations of the artists who create them. And with the explosion of the internet and social media, I feel like the creativity of street performers has exploded as well and the bar has been set even higher.

Street performing is the end-all-be-all guerrilla art activism . . .

Don't want to wait for the audience to come to you? Then bring it to them! Right smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk!

In order to get a pulse on all this boundless creativity, I've identified 10 different types of street performers that touch on just a few of the main trends we are seeing in this art form nowadays.

10 Different Types of Street Performers:

1. The Statue: this type of performer may paint themselves all in gold, or come up with an unusual outfit to appear like a statue. Holding still is their main game. And then some statues are even kinetic - moving when prompted by a coin dropped into their hat, or as a surprise as passersby move closer to inspect them.

2. The One-Man Band: this performer is a complete orchestra, band, or cacophony of sound all emanating from one human with instruments for appendages. This performer impresses the crowd with how many instruments they can play at once and the cleverness of how they've assembled the arrangement.

3. The Flash Mob: this type of performance depends on the element of surprise and turns an ordinary restaurant or train station into a full on organized mounting of a show. Often entailing an ensemble of people and advanced planning, the flash mob has been used again and again for not only artistic purposes, but as a marketing tool - even Oprah staged a flash mob in Chicago with the Black Eyed Peas!

4. Social Experiment: eye gazing experiment anyone? Hugs for free? The social experiment performer is one who is typically "testing" human nature with different kinds of interactions. Sometimes comedic, sometimes revealing, sometimes touching - and maybe all three, these have become widely popular over the last 10 years with social media and the internet.

5. The Magician or the Sleight of Hand: one of the oldest games in the world of street performers - "Where's the money, is it under this shell or this shell or this one?" This performer engages the passerby in a game and for a moment or a few minutes the "audience" gets to lose themselves to their desire for challenge and fascination.

6. Quirky Talent: Do you have a map of the U.S. that when people stand on it, you can tell them their exact zip code? The performer with a quirky talent engages the audience with wonder and leaves them questioning, "How did they do that?"

7. The Solo Talented Artist: Have you ever been graced with a lone flute drifting throughout the train station? Or a storyteller perched on a bench? Singer/songwriters, violinists, rappers, crooners, tale weavers - sometimes all an artist needs to do is to take themselves out in public . . . and play what they're good at.

8. The Ensemble: Break dancing crews, barbershop quartets, a band getting their rehearsal on in public. It's awesome to see a group that you can tell has worked together, creating fun and sharing a sneak peek of their show in a public space.

9. The Community Igniter: a drum circle, a capoeira group that urges passerby to pick up an instrument, a salsa band, Lindy hop dancers . . . these are the performers that blur the line between audience and performer - everyone is encouraged to become a participant and the result is a surprise party in the street!

10. Site-Specific Work: This is where the performance engages directly with the place where it is performed. Doing a performance in the woods, where one of the players climbs down a tree in the middle of a scene? Playing music inside a cave, using the acoustics of the specific place as an integral part of the piece. This is site-specific and can get creative and wildy fun. Especially with groups that hang off of buildings like Bandaloop. Every year, The Trolley Dances, in San Francisco are a great example of site-specific work, taking audience members on a journey throughout the city to view different pieces throughout.

. . . and this list doesn't even begin to really encompass all of it! So what do you think? Ready to take your work out into the world?

Your Challenge:

During the entire month of September, the Performers & Creators Lab Podcast is challenging you to take your artistic work - your songs, dance crew, improv troupe, hug tunnel, whatever you've got! - into public spaces in order to raise awareness of the urgent need for the inclusion in entertainment and media. What do we mean by inclusion? We're talking about people of color, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ, and people of all ethnicities, sizes, and differences. We want to see more! And we want to change the narratives!


It's simple:

1. Share your work in a public space.

2. Videotape your performance.

3. Post it on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or Instagram) using the hashtag #PACLchallenge.

4. Now you're Instantly Eligible to Win!

5. Ask your friends to like and share your video to increase your chances of winning.

6. Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to the Performers & Creators Lab Podcast where the winner will be announced on October 10th!

You Could Win:

GRAND PRIZE (video with most likes)

- You'll Get to be the FEATURED GUEST on the Performers & Creators Lab Podcast 2018 season finale where you and your work will be exposed and promoted to an audience of thousands of listeners all around the world.

- You'll Get Promotion on social media as your episode goes live! You'll get free promotion as we share about your work and promote you with our audience and followers on social media channels.

- You'll get a VIP Day with Holly Shaw, Creativity Coach & CHT - Coaching by Day/Dinner and a Show by Night: $2,500 Value. Spend the day with Holly getting coaching, career advice, performance help, video review, support around artistic support, hypnotherapy or whatever combination of support you would like to receive (includes a pre-VIP day 30 min consultation.) Lunch provided. Then go out with Holly for a night on the town: dinner at a San Francisco restaurant and tickets to a surprise show in SF included! Note: airfare and accommodations are not included

More Prizes and Awards!

In addition to the video with the most likes, there are other awards and prizes you can win for different award categories! Click here to see what else you could win!

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