The idea for a month-long celebration of water first came to Tigertail Productions’ executive director Mary Luft over a year ago, as rising sea levels and the effects of climate change became a visibly pressing issue in South Florida.
“I started thinking and looking at water in a more general way,” says Luft, who has lived in Miami for over 40 years. “Looking at water as bounty, water as essential, water as ritual — but from an artist’s perspective.”
From that drop of an idea came WATER, which uses dance and music performances, film screenings, discussions and special events to explore the unique relationship that South Florida has with an element that dominates our psyche and landscape, from the Everglades to the beach. It runs through April at various, often nontraditional locations around Miami-Dade.
Tigertail’s festival joins a growing number of South Florida arts events created to raise consciousness of the dangers of climate change. Among them are the 6-year-old National Water Dance Day on April 16, organized by Miami choreographer Dale Andree, with site-specific performances across the country, including nearly 200 dancers and musicians at the Deering Estate at Cutler. From April 22-24 Fundarte hosts the second Climakaze Miami, with performances, films and a nature excursion, which aims to spark environmental activism. Last December, Miami Dade College’s Live Arts’ presentation of Holoscenes, an eerie installation featuring performers in a giant tank of water, drew crowds during Miami Art Week.
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Tigertail’s WATER event kicks off Wednesday to Friday with a series of site-specific performances of A Body in Places, the first solo work by Eiko Otake, of acclaimed Butoh duo Eiko and Koma, inspired by the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster.
On Saturday, Tigertail is joined by the Miami River Commission for the 20th annual Miami River Day, presenting the FIU Water Music Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Robert Davidovici, playing Handel’s Water Music on a barge, to be followed by a flotilla of artist-created boats.
Audience members can listen aboard the barge or from the riverbank. The event is meant to recreate the original 1717 performance of Water Music for King George of England.
That same day the festival will host a visit to the little-known Miccosukee Embassy on the Miami River, where people can see Miccosukee water rituals and tour the historic Miami River caves, led by tribal leader the Rev. Houston R. Cyprus.
“He is gathering waters from 12 locations around South Florida and he is going to do an installation,” Luft says of Cyprus. “He is an incredible speaker.”
Tigertail has commissioned a more contemporary performance from Miami choreographer Lazaro Godoy, whose solo work Medaka, with original costumes, score and videos, references the Japanese rice fish.
“I’m interested in artists who are ready to move out into a greater world of having pieces in the repertoire that are wholly produced and have all of the elements in place,” Luft says. “[Godoy] is very much involved in a holistic approach.”
Medaka will be presented April 15-16 at Miami-Dade County Auditorium, together with musician Miguel Frasconi, who creates soundscapes using water-filled bowls, wine goblets and his own blown glass pieces.
At the end of the month Tigertail will premiere another commission, Covalent Bond, by New York experimental composer and percussionist Fast Forward, playing instruments floating in a “pool” table, and Miami media artist Barron Sherer, combining contemporary and archival water imagery.
Films include Kelly Reichardt’s River of Grass, a black comedy about growing up in suburban South Florida, April 20-22 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque; and a Wednesday series of water-themed popular movies at New World Symphony’s SoundScape Park, including Niagara, with Marilyn Monroe, and the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow.
ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of South Florida dance and performing arts coverage.
If You Go
What: Tigertail presents WATER, a month-long festival
Info: tickets and complete schedule at tigertail.org
What: Eiko Otake "A Body in Places"
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 10:30 a.m. Friday
Where: Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, 3251 South Miami Ave., Miami
Info: $18 Wednesday, free Friday
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
What: Eiko Otake Video lecture – "A Body in Fukushima"
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Mindy Solomon Gallery, 8397 NE 2nd Ave., Miami
What: Miami River Day events
When: 1:00-6:00 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lummus Park, 250 NW North River Drive, Miami
What: Lazaro Godoy’s "Medaka" and Miguel Frasconi "Well-weathered Music"
When: 8:30 p.m., April 15-16
Where: Miami-Dade County Auditorium On.Stage Black Box, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami
Info: $20 to $50
What: Fast Forward and Barron Sherer "Covalent Bond"
When: 8:30 p.m., April 29-30
Where: Miami-Dade County Auditorium On.Stage Black Box
Info: $20 to $50
What: Film series at New World Symphony
When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays April 6 to 27
April 6 - "Niagara"
April 13 – "San Andreas"
April 20 – "The Day After Tomorrow"
April 27 – "What Lies Beneath"
Where: SoundScape Park, Washington Ave. at 17th Street, Miami Beach
What: "River of Grass"
When: 7:00 p.m., April 20-22
Where: Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach