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National Water Dance “Moving Forward Together”

Written By Taima Hervas
April 19, 2024 at 2:57 PM

National Water Dance 2018 Dance collectives NWD Projects and Brazzdance perform at low tide on Crandon Beach, Key Biscayne, Florida. Photo credit MagicalPhotos.com / Mitchell Zachs

For Earth Day weekend, National Water Dance and Live Arts Miami invite you to a nature performance adventure at Majory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center, Key Biscayne. Featuring the theme “Moving Along Together,” attendees will explore trails with dancers, artists, and a naturalist, culminating in a beach dance and clean-up by Debris Free Oceans, ending with a sunset Happy Hour in the coral courtyard. Wear protective clothing and bring sunscreen.


NWD Promotional Video 

The Miami audience will not be alone in this collective dance celebration of the Earth’s water as National Water Dance simultaneously unites 72 different sites in 33 states criss-crossing the country from Florida to Maine and California, as the many different dance companies collectively dance together. All of the performances begin and end with the same official opening movement phrase, intentionally connecting the dancers, visual artists, musicians, audiences, and live stream viewers in an all inclusive experience where they can feel their connectedness to water, and to each other as part of the environment.

Dale Andree founded the biennial National Water Dance event in 2014 which ten years later is in its’s sixth manifestation, and as it and returns for the second time to Crandon Beach, Andree is changing things up. With the new theme, “Moving Along Together,” Andree is celebrating motion, the movement of water and the movement of people.

Andree says her aim is to blend the concept of flow and movement, notably by guiding the audience through a tour of the Nature Center and surrounding areas for a deeper engagement with the performances and Crandon Park itself, facilitated by a naturalist. This year, attendees will actively explore various locations, culminating in a beach performance with the Miami sound choir, enhancing their connection with nature.

“The audience is not coming to sit down and watch dance at a beautiful location. They’re going to be discovering it in different places and then ending up on the beach with the Miami sound choir to finish the performance…The performances are really about that about bringing people’s presence into nature into a deeper way,” explained Andree.

The NWD events schedule for April 20th begin at 3pm at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center with pre-show activities for all ages.  An Eco-Summit showcases Miami Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) student’s eco-artwork, which students created as part of Live Arts Miami’s EcoCultura programming with Dream in Green for the Green Schools Challenge for K-12 students.

Live Arts Miami describes the educational outreach of EcoCultura as a series of dynamic theater, dance, and music events they create to inspire action, advocacy, and dialogue around global environmental challenges. Students are connected to change-making artists from around the world who are tackling the issue of climate change, engaging with their performances and the artists themselves through videos, in person workshops and field trips.

Pinecrest Elementary in-school Water Dance workshop as part of Live Arts Miami’s EcoCultura programming in the Green Schools Challenge. Photographed (from L to R) seated, percussionist Ray Robinson, Vanina Armenteros (teacher), Barbara Martinez Guerrero (ED Green Schools Challenge) Dale Andree (Director, NWD Projects) February 5, 2024. Photograph courtesy of Live Arts Miami.

Educational outreach is central to the NWD and Live Arts Miami collaboration. As Dream in Green brought art into their STEM engagement with the schools, Andree was one of the artists invited by Live Arts Miami into five MDCPS public schools. She worked directly with students and teachers from Homestead High School and Pinecrest Elementary School, to deliver NWD workshops in-school and participated in four student field trips to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center to deliver what Andree called “mini-NWD” workshops with the students.

Andree, an advocate for educational outreach, collaborated with a naturalist, dancers, spoken word artist Arsimmer McCoy, and percussionist Ray Robinson to immerse students in Crandon Park’s nature. Through field trips, students engaged with the environment and expressed their interpretations via spoken word, dance, and writing prompts. The program culminated in a performance where dancers improvised based on the students’ written reflections and observed movements.

Andree summed up, “The students have been good and it demands attention, because on one day the mosquitoes aren’t bad or one day they are and they don’t always come prepared. They’re in the sun. But the things they’ve written and the attention they’ve given us has been really wonderful.”

National Water Dance commences promptly at 4pm and will feature local Miami dance companies including NWD Projects, Dance Now! Miami, Olujimi Dance Collective, Karen Peterson & Dancers, Jubilation Dance Ensemble, Thryn Saxon, and with special performances by Inez Barlatier, Ray Robinson, New World Symphony Violin Fellow Ye Jin Min and the Miami Sound Choir.

National Water Dance 2018 with NWD Project performers on Crandon Beach, Key Biscayne. Photo by MagicalPhotos.com / Mitchell Zachs.

The opening movement will take place with all dancer companies at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center featuring the Karen Peterson Dancers. Then four Everglades birds, a green heron, a blue kingfisher, a purple gallinulel and a white ibis, all created by artist Jenny Llewellyn-Jones, will show small groups down different trails with different Miami dance collectives, including NWD Projects, Dance Now! Miami, Olujimi Dance Collective, Jubilation Dance Ensemble, Thryn Saxon and then rotating groups so the audience will see every trail and finally everyone will go to the beach where all performers will gather for the closing performance, including special performances by Inez Barlatier, Ray Robinson, New World Symphony Violin Fellow Ye Jin Min and the Miami Sound Choir.

After the performance at 5pm, Debris Free Ocean will lead a beach cleanup, followed at 6pm by a wrap party and sunset happy hour.

At 4pm EST, dance groups and solo dancers from over thirty states, including Iowa and Wisconsin, will join performers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center in Key Biscayne through a synchronized dance movement, showcasing unity from various locations nationwide.

Dance companies and soloists across the nation and in Miami have the freedom to perform their unique water dances under the theme “Move Forward Together,” reflecting their personal connection to environmental action and climate justice. The event concludes with a unified closing movement, available for live streaming. Viewers are encouraged to participate by practicing the Opening and Closing Shared Movement Phrases ahead of time.

Michelle Grant Murray was the inaugural participant to join the National Water Dance (NWD) initiative when Andree first introduced it a decade ago and has been actively involved every year since. Her dance group, Olujimi Dance Collective (ODC), consists of individuals dedicated to various causes including environmental preservation, sustainability, ecology, and celebrating feminine power. Additionally, ODC focuses on enhancing the well-being of Black women through avenues that encompass healing, spirituality, empowerment, education, and excellence.

About NWD and their upcoming performance April 20, Grant Murray said, ”National Water Dance is really a deep introspective project looking at water ethics, first it started inside of our city, but that has really grown and now it’s a nationwide idea that also has expanded across the earth… How we’re communicating with the water and how the water is most definitely communicating with us.”

Grant Murray shares that being involved with the National Water Dance since its inception has been an incredible experience for her. She notes significant shifts from 2015 to 2024, marking a decade of engagement. Over these years, she has visited numerous water sites and site-specific, responsive spaces within Miami that have facilitated meaningful interactions. Grant Murray believes her experiences within these waterways have been profound, highlighting the significant impact and longevity of National Water Day.

“The part that concerns me are the conversations that the water are having, and how I am interpreting what the water may be feeling and what it may be saying to me inside of this process, because definitely climate change is a real thing. And water ethics is a real thing. There seems to be more and more issues happening with the water,” stated Grant Murray.

When asked about the music for NWD, Miami based percussionist Ray Robinson explained that his performance involves improvisation for the dancers as well as leading them and emphasized that it is not about him, that it’s really about the dancers and how they are depicting water.

Robinson explained, “We’re working together, we are one team, and we are communicating back and forth, throwing ideas out via gestures and style and just having to interpret. The number one, first and foremost, my mindset has been, how do I pick water sounds on all levels? From the rain stick, from utilizing the ocean drum, a frog block to give the sounds of nature, I’m even stepping on leaves, and the trash snare to create the sound of the ocean, rocking it back and forth.”

Students from Homestead Senior High School watch National Water Dance (NWD) Project Dancers Barbie Freeman and Sunyoung Park (L to R) during ‘mini-NWD’ educational field trips to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center on Key Biscayne, March 15, 2024 in partnership with MDCPS Cultural Passport program. Photograph courtesy of Lateshia McFarland.

The mission of Andree’s NWD is, “to promote dance as a vehicle for social change by increasing awareness of environmental and social issues through collaboration with the artistic, educational and scientific communities.”

When Andree takes the audience down the park path, she is also anticipating that being in nature while experiencing art will inspire them to love nature and to defend it, to tackle climate change with intent and passion. She states in her mission that, “As artists, we know that creativity is born from conflict: conflict that is fed by questions, by self-evaluation, by new and diverse ideas from those who challenge us as we begin the process necessary to change.”

NWD Co-producer, Live Arts Miami, Executive Director Kathryn Garcia, elaborated how NWD is part of the Live Arts Miami initiative Eco-Cultura, which has been addressing issues for many years to create awareness about climate change and supporting artist as change makers.

She wondered aloud, “How do the arts affect people taking action?” and answered with passion, “The arts open the door. Activism works on an immediate time frame, where the arts work on a longer, sometime more subtle pathway. Art open hearts and minds… having an emotional experience that chagnes something in you that can lead to societal change but needs that personal step, one goes with the other.”

Garcia emphasized, “NWD awakens people through the arts, inspiring and informing them. In Andree’s words, it’s about ‘moving forward together,’ ensuring everyone has a seat at the table. It highlights the power of the arts to address climate change and survive on the planet by tapping into our fundamental relationship with nature. National Water Dance beautifully embodies this connection, bringing us into physical and emotional contact with the natural spaces we inhabit.”

Andree shared some thoughts while rehearsing on location out of doors at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center a few days before the NWD 2024 performance, “The fact is we we are the environment. And it takes so much shedding to really see it that way. Like I’m sitting here in front of, I don’t know the name of bush, but I’m sitting looking at it and we’re equal parts here. You know, the fact that I have more power to destroy it than it has to destroy me makes me feel like I’m special. But we’re part of the same ecosystem. We rely on each other. And the more we can understand that, maybe we’ll get to a point where it’s impossible to ignore what we’re doing to it.”

 

WHAT: National Water Dance

WHEN: Saturday, April 20, 2024

Event Schedule:
3PM – Dream In Green’s Eco-Summit and pre-show activities
4PM – National Water Dance commences
5PM – Debris Free Oceans Beach Clean Up
6PM – Sunset Happy Hour

WHERE: Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, 6767 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne

COST: Free, tickets can be reserved online at Live Arts Miami or by calling (305) 237 3010.

INFORMATION: https://www.nwdprojects.org/national-water-dance/

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