On Saturday, bodies of water all over the nation will become activated in a feat of solidarity and awareness through National Water Dance, an event that highlights and raises consciousness about our sensitive relationship to water — an essential element we all share in common.
Dale Andree of South Miami founded the initiative in 2011 when the program was just statewide. The concept was simple: Engage the community through the art of dancing to ignite a conversation. The idea took off and in 2014 became a national venture. This year, 32 states are participating in the event.
Dancers from all over the U.S. will perform a series of choreographed movement phrases beginning and ending with the same sequence in, around or next to a body of water. On Saturday, a free performance will take place at the Deering Estate in Southwest Miami-Dade. It will last about 40 minutes, beginning promptly at 4 p.m. EDT coast-to-coast, as part of the center’s Festival of the Arts. The Deering program will feature 160 performers of all ages. Andree will also have a series of live videos uploaded to the site for people who can’t make it to a performance.
The showcase is hosted every two years, and Andree says it has created collaboration between environmental groups and educator participation advising and providing audiences with information on the water and the environment.
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The event has expanded from a statewide project to a national one with 1,500 individuals around the country participating. In California, all schools in the Los Angeles school district will take part. The choreography is different in each area, but all have common themes and expressions inspired by the liquid landscapes in which the dancers will perform.
“We’re seeing this as deeper engagement and reaching deeper into the community,” Andree said. “People have been really touched by it, and I think when they realize that this is happening across the United States there’s something very powerful in knowing there's a similar action happening across the country. This is as educational for the participants as it is for the audience.”
Claudia Arredondo, a sophomore at Bridgeprep Academy of Arts and Minds, participated in National Water Dance two years ago and will also be joining the event on Saturday. She says the presentation opened up her eyes to the scarcity of water and has helped her become more mindful in her water usage.
“The first experience was great. The way that everyone got together, it showed how water is so meaningful to the environment and everyone,” Arredondo said. “ I’ve learned that water is very efficient for us and that we have to protect it because in the future we may not have clean water. I’ve made changes. I limit myself to 10 minutes in the shower, and I close the faucet when I’m brushing my teeth.”
For Andree, community building and environmental awareness substantiate the work she puts into the project.
“I feel there’s really a community building in Miami, and it’s not just what I’m doing,” Andree said. “A lot of people are engaging and looking at water issues, and it’s very exciting. As slow moving as everything is, I feel there’s momentum happening.”