Art meets environmental action in Dale Andree’s National Water Dance

Written By Helena Alonso Paisley
April 15, 2022 at 8:18 PM

The National Water Dance performance in 2018 took place on Key Biscayne at the beach near the Biscayne Nature Center. (Photo/Mitchell Zachs)

Nature abhors a vacuum; so, too, does Dale Andree.

When the Earth advocate, dancer and pioneering Miami choreographer created the National Water Dance in 2011, she saw the project as a way to build community. Her work hints that movement, with its physical and metaphorical power, can be the seed for a movement in the political sense.

Over the past decade of her impressive career, Andree has made a deep dive into the creative and connective possibilities of water as a vital and imperiled element. Starting at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23, audiences may join National Water Dance’s dialogue around water during a presentation titled “Dancing Out of Time!” at the South Miami-Dade Art and Culture Center.

This year’s theme centers around the Everglades, where Andree had an AIRIE arts fellowship in 2018. The afternoon of this multifaceted presentation will begin with guides showing participants to an onsite art gallery featuring the Glades-inspired works of Seminole painter Wilson Bowers and Canadian-born conservationist and mixed-media artist Deborah Mitchell. Or guides will lead them to tents where they can learn about the wetlands’ challenges from members of the Love the Everglades Movement.

For the performance sequence later in the afternoon, the Brazilian sounds of Miamibloco’s percussionists will usher audiences, samba-style, to an outdoor space decorated with papier-mâché birds created by student sculptors from George Washington Carver Middle School in Coral Gables.

Seminole Tribe member Samuel Tommie’s haunting flute music will begin an invocation acknowledging the spiritual significance of the land. There will be music from the Miami Sound Choir and from the Cuban-American duo Afrobeta, all accompanying an equally diverse array of dance companies.

The 4 p.m. dance performance is expected to start with a “movement choir.” Developed in the early 20th century by modern dance revolutionary Rudolf Laban, this practice involves mounting a simple choreographic sequence through a large group of people so that, together, they can experience the healing power of movement.

But with National Water Dance, said Andree, the sequence of “shared gestures” will happen across the entire United States as member groups from Connecticut to California connect via live stream, uniting in a simultaneous, nationwide performance.

“This is about constructing community,” said Andree, and about “creating awareness centered around the joy of these dancers.”

The large group of dancers here includes the Afro-Cuban ensemble IFE-ILE; Karen Peterson and Dancers; Olujimi Dance Theatre; Dimensions Dance; NWD Projects, Miami Dade College’s Jubilation Dance Ensemble; Andree’s own troupe; and young performers from the Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts.

Following the movement choir, dancers from the different troupes will be highlighted, with the groups “constantly threading through to make the performance one woven fabric of movement,” Andree said.

“What this is all about is not only attention to the environment, but also attention to ourselves as part of the environment,” she added. “Our only way forward is to work as one.”


WHAT: National Water Dance 2022 — “Dancing Out of Time!”

WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23, 2022

WHERE: South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay; plus online access at

COST: Free with ticket; available at

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