The term "carnival" most commonly brings up associations of bratty kids blowing their parents' money on terrible food, tricky games, plastic souvenirs, and nausea-inducing rides. If you're slightly more cultured, you might recognize Carnival as the festival season that takes place before Lent, perhaps best known for the Brazilian celebration of the more, shall we say, unbuttoned, Dionysian side of human nature. Between the masquerade and the parade, the celebration is about shedding our daily, constructed identities and embracing the wilderness that lives inside each of us.
The origin of the word carnival is disputed — the two parts, carne and vale, are generally interpreted to indicate "a farewell to meat" at the onset of Lent, or "a farewell to the flesh," as in letting go of yourself.
I think the sultriness of summer is the most fitting time for these themes, and I am apparently not alone. On Friday, June 22, two days after the solstice, Erika Ruegemer and One Dance Co. will present "Scene & Herd; a Carnival of Animals," at 7 p.m., beginning at Rochester Contemporary Art Center (137 East Ave.). The performance will make its way outside among the Jazz Festival revelers, to the corner of East Avenue and Scio Street. The artists invite the audience to experience the "structured improvisation" up close or from afar, and photography is highly encouraged. Admission to the performance is $1, payable to Rochester Contemporary; for more information, call 461-2222, or visit rochestercontemporary.org.