07/20/2012 05:42 EDT | Updated 09/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Porch View Dances taps residents for pop-up performances

A Toronto contemporary dance company is giving the summertime custom of hanging out on the front porch a unique spin.

Over the weekend, Kaeja d'Dance is presenting Porch View Dances, a series of pop-up, pay-what-you-can shows that are turning a downtown community's porches and courtyards into temporary stages. Choreographer and troupe co-founder Karen Kaeja conceived the idea in a daydream.

"I was looking out the front window and I thought: 'I wonder what happens in the house across the street?'" she told CBC News.

"And it kind of drizzled out the door and onto the front porch and onto the lawn and became a dance."

Though professional choreographers created the individual dance works, the initiative features performances by residents in the neighbourhood — most with no dance experience. The dances themselves are also inspired by the lives of each family.

"We're glad our neighbours now know we're not just weird, out dancing on our lawn," participant Julia Wyncoll said, laughing.

"We've been doing a lot of rehearsing. Not sure if anyone knows what's going on, [while they were] peering out of their windows. Now they'll know!"

The community-inspired series, which got underway Thursday evening, attracted praise from passersby.

"It's fantastic," said one local resident. "We've heard about it for awhile and were looking forward to it. And it's exceeded expectations."

The goal is to expand Porch View Dances, continuing through Sunday, to other neighbourhoods across the city in coming months, said choreographer and troupe co-director Allen Kaeja.