Performances can be just about anything that people find entertaining. Performers can do animal tricks, acrobatics, comedy, escapes, dancing, singing, fortune telling, juggling, mime variations (where the artist performs as a statue) plus many other forms of entertainment.
Street performers, buskers, minstrels or troubadours are all names for the same profession: entertainers who perform in the streets for gratuities. This art form, which can be found in virtually every culture, was the most common means for people to bring their talent to the public before the invention of recording devices and mediums like TV or radio. Prior to that, a person who wanted to produce music would carry an organ, music box, and a piano on wheels.
I remember as a very young child seeing organ grinders with their performing monkeys at parades and fairs. The person would play the organ and the monkey would have a cup and would collect coins from an appreciative audience.
In the early 1980s in a small Charlevoix village near Quebec City, Canada there was a band of colorful street entertainers who would juggle, dance, play music, breathe fire and walk on stilts. The troupe was founded by Gilles Ste-Crois. In 1984 member Guy Laiberte proposed a show called Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun) for Quebec City's celebration of the 450th anniversary of Canada's discovery by Jacques Cartier. That small troupe of street performers has evolved into ten shows in North and South America, Asia and Europe.
In the United States there has been a rebirth of this art form. Street entertainers are found at many locations throughout the country in places like New Orleans, in New York around Central Park, Washington Park, in Venice Beach, Los Angeles and Mallory Square in Key West.
We have just come back from a visit to Key West and can attest that the street performers are many and most are excellent. Some are singers who play a guitar, like this gentlemen. Notice the red pail in front of him. That is where the gratuities are placed in appreciation for his singing.
A singer with a steel drum found his own spot away from most of the other entertainers.
This performer was what I will generously call 'different'. His act seemed to consist of him trying to get his cats to perform. Trying is the key word here. When I first stopped by, he attempted to take a cat out of it's cage. The cat had other ideas and after a few attempts, he moved on to another cat.
This was a cute cat whose only talent seemed to be that he had no tail (which was pointed out two or three times by the gentleman) and he would climb up on the entertainer's shoulder.
We have two cats and if we decide to stop our photography, I think I can top this act.
I moved on after this so maybe I missed his big finish!!
We all have seen jugglers before and even jugglers who work with fire.
But this young guy also balanced his twelve foot cycle on his chin.
And balancing the fire while riding the cycle, this young man also had a really good sense of humor that drew people into seeing him and away from his competition.
This gentlemen started out juggling fire sticks then moved on to other items.
He took out this conch shell and used it as a horn to grab the
attention of passers bye.
He then picked up a crystal ball and started juggling it. Against the setting sun it was really impressive.
When I took this fortune teller's picture the first time, I thought it was an accident that his hand was in front of his face. Then I realized he did not want his face photographed. I'm not sure why, maybe he was shy or he 'saw' the law in his future if his face was on the internet!!
We saw this mime acting like a statue and going as far as to paint himself with a grey metallic looking paint.
When Phyllis put a gratuity into his pail, he called her back and posed with her!!
Of all the singers there, this gentleman had the best voice, in my opinion. He sang many hits from the fifties and sixties.
While not a street entertainer, this bar out on the boardwalk helped people enjoy the performers !!! I'm not sure how many drinks you would need to be entertained by the cat man?????
She was not a street entertainer but this young woman on a balcony was yelling to people passing by. She did provide some entertainment with her yelling and dancing around!!!
The next few images were taken during the Art Deco weekend on South Beach in Miami, Florida earlier this year. This performer was a fire eater!!
His son was a part of the act as an escape artist. He was in a straight jacket and had two members of the audience tie a rope around the jacket. He was pretty good!!!
A stilt walker was very popular.
He would pose with people while their friends would take pictures. Some of the poses were umm awkward!!! A lesson to be learned: when posing with a stilt walker, be aware of where your head is!!
WC Fields and May West were represented!!
The real piano man. Billy Joel eat your heart out!!!
I really enjoy street entertainers! Most of them put on a good show for a small gratuity!! Many of them really work hard in uncomforatble weather to put on a show and entertain us. What more could you ask for??