Before Gretchen and I moved from NYC to Dallas, we were doing the “Mannequin Challenge” - only we got paid for it.
A new trend that was emerging at the time and our training in Mime, Dance and Theater made us uniquely suited for the task.. Business were having performers pretend to be mannequins in store windows, in floor displays and at parties. We were among the first in the country to present this art, and were in high demand. Back then, the clients wanted you to really look like a store mannequin; STANDING with the store’s cloths on, and posing on pedestals – unmoving – with your EYES OPEN! We worked in all of the big New York department stores, and even did a lot here in Dallas after we relocated.
This idea was copied by many, but some of the performers lacked the training and commitment to make it a real, and even surreal, experience for passersby. Since then we have seen the art transform. Now the look has moved away from mannequin and toward statues, and many of the performers are seated in comfortable positions, with eyes closed or wearing masks or painted glasses. And some have even taken to scaring their audience, on purpose, for a laugh.
And now here’s the Mannequin Challenge, an Internet video trend where people remain frozen in action like mannequins, while a moving camera films them. It is believed that the phenomenon was started by students in Jacksonville, Florida, on October 12, 2016. Most, at least, are standing in hard to hold poses, with their eyes open. But they only hold the poses for a few minutes. We were expected to hold a pose for 10 to 15 minutes; often without blinking the whole time. The no-blinking think was a combination of conditioning, will power and over-the-top commitment.
It was great to be there, at the very start of something that was admired by the public and desired by the paying clients. Our knees are paying for it now, but it was worth it!