A typical concert dance performance does not usually conjure up thoughts of social justice and governmental reform. At first glance, dance and politics might not seem to go together. That is not to say that the art form is entirely apolitical – different genres of art can certainly serve as a persuasive medium for declaring political statements. From a historical perspective, analysis of the arts can be used to study social change and political reform, and dance is no exception to this.
If you’re thirsty for political activism, passionate about dance, or simply eager to bask in the long-awaited spring weather, cast your attention towards The National Water Dance project. Based in Florida, this national organization strives to bring awareness to the issue of water conservation through an artistic celebration of America’s natural waterways.
At 10 AM on April 12th, see social change in action as the National Water Dance project presents a series of performances throughout 30 states, from Philadelphia to Miami to Seattle. Here in Philadelphia, the performance will take place on the scenic Race Street Pier, overlooking the Delaware River. The performances at each location around the country will occur at the exact same time, forming a type of national “movement choir,” as the dancers’ movements are separated by physical space, but united in time.
While the performances in every location will ultimately differ from one another in overall choreography, each performance will feature a three-minute gesture phrase, created collaboratively by the National Water Dance dancers and various choreographers around the country. Colleen Hooper, choreographer of the Philadelphia branch of the National Water Dance project, says, “The dance performance will travel through different parts of the Race Street Pier and the movement choir, or collaboratively generated phrase, will be performed twice at the very end of the pier.”
Hooper has worked with a talented group of Temple University dancers and alumni, including renowned choreographer and dancer, Merián Soto. She strives create a thought-provoking performance that she feels will explore the connection between the “water within our bodies,” as the human body is composed primarily of water, and the water that is present in our environment. She says, “I am hoping that bringing audience members to a pier on the Delaware River to watch a dance and music performance will create chance for reflection and raise awareness about the beauty and fragility of our environment.” Using the Delaware River as a backdrop, as one of the bodies of water we should be striving to save, provides a powerful message that is hard not to see. Even if the artistic beauty of dance temporarily distracts you, the mere sight of the river can remind you of the purpose of the performance.
Should you decide to attend, you may see some local politicians showing their support for the National Water Dance project’s cause. PA Representative Michelle Brownlee will be attending the event, along with several other local leaders. Hooper says, “We are excited to have our leaders support dance and promote water protection and conservation.” However, as in any political movement, it is equally important to have the support of the public, as well as the leaders, so join in, help raise awareness, and as always, enjoy the arts. April 12, 2014. se.nationalwaterdance.org.