In “Nature in the City” Billy B directs the attention of his audience to the many and constant elements of nature in the urban environment. This show was commissioned by Baltimore Woods Nature Center.
Photographer credit: Augustinus Tjahaya
In his opening song, “Nature in the City”, Billy sings and talks about plant life, the air and water cycles and the critters that share their habitats with people. He and the kids identify and then imitate the sounds of the creatures that live in their local environment. In the middle of this song, in particular with a younger audience, he will often go into the “Yo, I’m a flower ” song and audience participatory dance to emphasize the mechanics of pollination. Using comedy routines directed at the different ages of his audience he demonstrates the human exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide with plants.
Awareness of the importance of water, and the effect people’s behavior has on it’s quality, is introduced and explored. In the song “Heart of the City” the idea of how often major cities are situated by bays, rivers or lakes is presented. “All Across the USA” deals with why there is so much green slime ( algea ) in the water, how it effects the ecology of the water, and what can be done to correct it. With “Flies in Black” Billy leads volunteers in a hiphop dance that demonstrates the idea of biological indicators, ( which species of “macro-invertebrates” – usually that refers to insects in the early stages of their lives – living in the water reveal it’s level or lack of pollution ) in streams and rivers.
In “The Peregrine” Billy explains why city environments attract canyon dwelling birds ( the peregrine falcon and the pidgeon ). Then Billy leads the kids in ” The Peregrine ” dance which acts out the peregrine hunting the pidgeon.
“With My Hand” is another hip hop song. It’s dance demonstrates what litter can, and too often does, do to the runoff water flowing on and under the city streets. The lyrics follow the litter out to the rivers and beaches and document it’s impact on the wildlife in the area.
There is always an element of improvisation with Billy’s shows, often inspired by a students’ comment or question or by the news of the day.