When Shawn Bounds walked into Benaroya Hall Friday night for the first time, she had no idea that just a few hours later she’d be an Internet sensation.
Bounds had never seen a Seattle Symphony concert and she didn’t imagine dancing would happen, or that she’d be part of the entertainment.
The evening’s performance was billed as “Sonic Evolution,” part of a series for which conductor Ludovic Morlot has composers write pieces inspired by local music icons. Friday’s show included music inspired by Seattle hip hop icon Sir Mix-A-Lot, who was set to guest on two songs.
“I went because I just wanted to see how on earth the symphony was going to play with Sir Mix-A-Lot,” Bounds said Tuesday.
The Symphony performed “Dial 1-900 Mix-A-Lot” by composer Gabriel Prokofiev. Then Mix-A-Lot came on to sing “Posse On Broadway” and “Baby Got Back” with orchestral accompaniment.
After the orchestra finished with “Posse on Broadway,” Mix-A-Lot asked if “a couple of ladies” might want to help him out for “Baby Got Back.” That turned into a stampede, as three-dozen women came onstage, including Bounds.
“It was an unexpected idea, and I wasn’t sure if the orchestra would be okay with it,” Prokofiev said. “But Ludovic was enthusiastic, and said ‘why not?’”
Bounds said she had no idea people would be asked on stage, either “because they would block the symphony. But when they asked, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to bring my A-Game. This is my jam.’”
For the next eight minutes or so, while Mix rapped and the Symphony played, the women danced, but no one was having more fun than 38-year-old Bounds. She twerked, she twisted, and she did what she calls “the sprinkler.”
“I had no idea what I was doing would be such a big deal,” she said. “Those are my normal dance moves, and I do those all the time, but not with Sir Mix-A-Lot or the Symphony.”
Composer Prokofiev, whose works have been played in prestigious concert halls around the world, had never seen anything like it: “Ultimately, it was a testament to the love the Seattle public have for Sir Mix-A-Lot, but also I think there was a real added excitement that this was happening in the hallowed ground of a classical concert hall, and that there was a brilliant symphony orchestra on stage.”
Bounds had only seen Mix-A-Lot in concert once before, and still hasn’t actually met him, though she hugged him during the song. She says that much of the credit for how the evening went should go to the symphony.
“They were amazing,” she said. “I don’t remember anything else, just me and that beautiful music.”
By the time the song was over, and Bounds was trying to catch her breath in the lobby during intermission, people were coming up to her showing her video on phones.
“I had a feeling then it might end up on YouTube, but I had no idea it would so become what it has,” she said.
The video has been posted by hundreds of media web sites, showed up on “The Today Show” and its YouTube views are approaching two million.
Bounds, who works in marketing for a local hotel chain (she preferred to keep the name to herself, for the sake of privacy), has gotten hundreds of emails from people who have said her moves were inspiring because they showed self-confidence.
And if conductor Morlot’s concept was to bring the attention of young people to the Seattle Symphony, he achieved that beyond expectations, thanks in part to Bounds. Though Friday’s show was her first time ever in Benaroya, she’ll return.
“I’ll be back,” she said. “I’m a Seattle Symphony-lifer, now.”
Next time, though, she won’t be on stage.