World Water Day is held every year on March 22nd along with a dance concert held at Temple University with performances that explore the impacting themes and qualities of water. This is a review of the dance concert and choreographic choices.
On March 19th 2021, I had the opportunity to watch Temple University’s dance concert SURGE in honor of World Water Day. This concert was centered around the theme of water, its qualities, properties, and the impact of the environment and politics. Through the experimental nature of the movement, I was able to find appreciation and inspiration from water.
Water surrounds us on this planet and is important to our own bodies to stay alive and thrive. Choreographers Mijkalena Smith, Emma Sue Ewing, and Zi Wang chose to showcase these qualities through performances in their own bathtubs and showers. This was a unique source of creative practice within the water and about the water itself. In Smith’s bath routine, her wing spanned across the edge of the bathtub and she continued to make angles with her arms while soaking her body in the water. This spoke to me of the immersiveness of the water and also the contrast between the soft curves of a current and the sharp angles of Smith’s arms provided interesting choreographic balance. In the Q&A segment of Smith’s concert, she spoke about the healing and purifying properties of water. This reminded me of a phrase in her piece where she splashed the water up to her face and held her hands pressed to her eyes in stillness. This movement felt so powerful and tied to the washing and cleansing of the face. The face and head are places of expressivity, sight, taste, smell, sound, breath, and then further into the brain to process all these sensations. As Smith was holding this water to her face, I felt the impact of trying to refresh and clear away anything that would block this very receptive and sensitive part of her so that she could be renewed to process the world around her.
In Elise Mele’s choreography, “beneath the current,” there were very beautiful movements that imitated the flow of the water layered with waves of Mele’s body translucently moving through the frame. Mele’s performance on the beach with the ocean waves behind her and wind in the hair was an ethereal and soothing experience. The authenticity of the wind pushing her along with the repetition of the editing of herself dancing within herself reminded me how the wind and the water are a powerful pairing. The reflection of the self from the front and back pulled me into the atmosphere of this magical ocean choreography. At one moment, Mele swirled her hand vertically from her hip to her head while a body roll moved down to her leg to turn out and step forward. This fully embodied the current for me, and I found a sense of calm as Mele truly captured the essence of the ocean flow behind her.
Throughout this concert, I felt that there could have been more, longer, or deeper thoughts to be brought about through these pieces. I enjoyed this and look forward to what these choreographers are going to continue along these themes and ideas. It inspires me to take into account how I interact with water, how to make the experience special, and not to take this limited resource for granted. Who knows, maybe I will create a dance from water as well!
If you would like to experience a dance concert for yourself, you can find a link to the Boyer calendar here: https://boyer.temple.edu/events.