For my Theatre Design class, I had to write a critique paper on last week's performance of Body of Water. When we discussed the show in class, I kept noticing how little I felt I could cover in a three page review - the piece was so big, especially from the point of view of a performer who has been engaged in this project since last April.
Last spring, my Movement II class live-streamed a performance from Dunning Springs as a part of the National Water Dance. Later that spring, we learned that Luther would be putting on an interdisciplinary piece about water as part of our 2014-2015 Theatre/Dance season. This entire semester, dancers worked on creating phrases with the aim of describing daily, mundane uses of water all the way to showing how individual water molecules interact with one another.
As a dancer, I was fascinated with watching everyone learn about water from their own bodies. We spent a great amount of time simply talking about water and forming a relationship with water and an affection for it (some dancers even discuss how their relationship with water now feels a lot more like a relationship with another person that a relationship with a "thing" or a "resource"). We toured the Dry Run Creek Watershed, heard lectures about water from Biology faculty, and discussed sustainable farming practices.
What's more interesting than that was how much else was done for this project beyond what I'm even aware of. Hours of documentary footage were captured by Ian Carstens, who traveled the watershed all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Jodi Enos-Berlage conducted interviews with local farmers. The music department created original scores and improvisations for this piece. Senior Hayley Ryan created beautiful, individualized costumes for her senior project, while Chelsey O'Connor designed the lights for the entire piece. There were art installations, a pre-performance show, Biology posters on water quality, and so much more (not to mention the beautiful set, the projections during the piece...).
Body of Water was unlike any other piece that I've been a part of, mostly because it wasn't just dance. It's purpose wasn't solely entertainment or art or beauty. It was informative: it aimed to have each person feel an affection for the "molecule of life." It truly felt like equal parts dance, science, and video.
There are so many people who have done a better job writing about this piece than I have: Michael Morain from the Des Moines Register wrote a really great piece about the show (I read the opening paragraph and thought, "hey, he's talking about me!"), Luther headlined a blog about it here, The Decorah newspaper wrote about it, and Luther College Chips writer Matt Helm wrote about it here (I'm practicing my modern dance face in that picture).
If you're interested in purchasing the performance DVD and/or the documentary, you can contact Ian Carstens at [email protected]