By Tina Safi
ContributorMary Pinizzotto has had an extraordinary year. She has done the tango at Target and waltz at Walmart, and she has danced in front of the steps of a courthouse sashaying across the country from San Diego to Missouri to New York.
Last December, Pinizzotto, 42, set out to post a new dance video every day for a year on her blog (thefreebox.org). Sunday, Dec. 12 will mark her 365
thday, and she will celebrate the occasion with a public dance in Balboa Park.
The event will feature all styles of dance, from ballroom to swing to tap, and Pinizzotto welcomes all to join her.
“I’m hoping there will be dancers of all ages and styles,” said Pinizzotto, who lived in Encinitas until a recent move to Kansas City.
A former competitive ballroom dancer, Pinizzotto danced in the American Smooth and American Rhythm categories and won titles, including first place in the American Smooth Rising Star division.
“Eventually I realized that competition really wasn’t for me,” Pinizzotto said. “I wanted to explore and expand the role dance had in my life beyond the competitive ballroom world.”
Pinizzotto’s blog idea came to her gradually.
“I heard a public radio broadcast a couple of years ago about Suzi-Lori Parks, a Pulitzer-winning playwright who wrote a play-a-day for 365 days,” she said. “This idea intrigued me for a long time. To do something creative like that – everyday for an entire year? I wondered if I could do that.
“Then I saw the movie ‘
Julie and Julia’and there it was again – that idea of committing to a daily practice for the creative spirit. I went home from that movie and baked a pie! One morning a few weeks later, I woke up and started the project.”
Through Pinizzotto’s fun blog posts, strangers get to see just how exuberating dance can really be. She has danced in unexpected places all over the country, posting videos of herself dancing alone on the beach in Cardiff and on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. She is returning to San Diego, however, for the last day of her dance year, so that the project can end where it all began.
“Something I’ve learned through my blog is that creativity isn’t really dependent on resources,” Pinizzotto said. “As a matter of fact, having limited resources – no budget, time constraints, and at the beginning no clue how to actually make a video – has probably encouraged, not discouraged, creativity.”
Pinizzotto has also learned to work through her fears.
“The first time I danced in public or asked strangers to dance with me, I was terrified,” she said. “But I didn’t die! So I got a little stronger.
“Dancing with uncontrolled elements such as slippery surfaces, uneven ground, unsuspecting people, security guards, etc. has challenged me to be resourceful and aware and self determined.”
Her favorite dances include the Target Tango, Boogie Shoes, Imagine (performed on Day 300, which was John Lennon’s birthday), and Do It Again. For the most part, her dances are all improvised, sometimes led by a piece of clothing, other times determined by the location, music, or simply how Pinizzotto is feeling that day.
Pinizzotto will continue to post on her blog after the year is over, but she won’t be making a video every day. Instead, she plans on focusing on spreading the word about her original Freebox mission: Getting people to sit less and dance more.
“I’m going to accept submissions and have guest posts from other dancers who want to get their Freebox on,” she said.
Although she has come close to the end of her dancing year, Pinizzotto doesn’t look like she is ready to take a break any time soon.
“I want as many people dancing with me as possible,” she said. “I know that when people dance truly from their heart, their whole soul starts to shine and that is what I’m in it for.”
If you dance
What:Grande finale public dance will be to Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round in Circles”
When:2 p.m. Dec. 12
Where:Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park
Cost:Free, social to follow
Watch 360 dance videos