Grace and Environmentalism Combine Simultaneously in the National Water Dance

Water conservation isn't a new phenomenon, but if you attend the Floridian performance of the National Water Dance at the Deering Festival of the Arts, you'll see water conservation in a brand new light.

The National Water Dance is created by Dale Andree, the event's artistic director. With the help of producer Daniel Lewis, Andree imbued the event with history, artistry and, of course, water conservation awareness.

"This kind of project, which is actually a movement choir, was started back in the early 20th century by Rudolf Laban, and I'm part of that Laban community," Andree said. "I was inspired by a woman named Marylee Hardenbergh, who has made these all over the world, but she created one along the Mississippi River. The idea of creating all of these diverse populations through movement along a waterway was very impressive to me and really touched me."

See also: The 11th-Annual Miami Dance Festival Hopes to Inspire Momentum Throughout the Community

In 2011, Andree created the Florida Waterways Project.

"[The project connects] the state of Florida through our waterways and connecting the arts and education programs, of which we have so many, basically through the colleges and universities," she said. "That building of community that way was so successful that we thought we would be able to do it on a national level[.]"

The National Water Dance will have, states Andree, "a lot more emphasis on water and the issues of water, and bringing that into the foreground for the performers."

"[We are] trying to find connections within the schools, environmental and ecological studies, as well as creating the performance itself," she said.

The event will include performers from surrounding universities, as well as middle, elementary, and even some pre-school performers.

"My connection is really through the colleges and universities," said Andree, who also teaches at the New World School of the Arts. "I brought in Miami-Dade College, Kendall Campus, with their dance department; South Miami Middle Community School, Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts, and RR Moton Elementary School."

As stated, the dance will focus on water conservation, but what exactly does "water conservation" entail?

"I think there are a couple of levels," said Andree. "On the most basic level, the overarching theme for this is a water epic, [bringing to] people's awareness that water, in all its abundance, is not all that abundant everywhere. It is in peril. We need to take responsibility for it on an every-day basis so that immediately, people can adjust their way of living."

Apart from the Deering Festival of the Arts, the National Water Dance will have sites throughout Florida, including Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Daytona Beach, Tampa, Gainesville, Jacksonville and Niceville.

"For each location, we're going to have information for people about some of the issues that exist right here in South Florida, which is the intrusion of salt water into the wetlands and other issues," Andree said. "We're working with the Earth Ethics Institute at Miami-Dade College and the [Yes! for Environmental Sustainability Club] at MDC. We're going to have a lot of volunteers mingling around the audience so that, before and after the performance, they can engage with people in a very conversational way and have some materials to hand out about some of those issues."

To help jumpstart people's water conservation, the team behind the National Water Dance, in cooperation with the Earth Ethics Institute, will give out water-efficient showerheads provided by Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department, to anyone who brings in their old showerhead.

The National Water Dance will be live streamed from all its locations across the country, including sites in Maine, Alaska, California, and more. The stream will take the performance to an even greater level, creating an even stronger sense of community.

"We live streamed the Florida event, and that was pretty amazing to see how that could be done with just smartphones. So we've already had that experience," Andree said. "[W]e had eight sites in Florida, but now we've got 32 sites participating in the live stream across the country. It's just really exciting. It's exciting for the kids and everyone involved, as well as the fact that we can reach so many more people."

The dance, combined with the materials that will be on hand and the shower head swapping, will do a lot to spread the word about water conservation, but there are plenty of other things you can do to save our water supply.

"Just [pay] attention," Andree said. "Do you leave the water running when you brush your teeth? When you turn the lights on, you're using water--a lot of people don't realize that. All the ways that you just don't pay attention to [how we] use water. Just becoming more aware of the actual issues that are a part of our community."

Andree also mentioned taking stronger action to get better conservation reforms.

"As [the issues] become more prevalent, write your legislator. Let them know you're concerned about [conservation], because its really repetition in numbers that makes anything change," she said. "People want to be voted [in], and if enough people write about certain issues, they're going to pay attention to it. What I'm concerned about is people just start to become aware of something that seems so abundant for us in South Florida and realizing we do have to protect it and this state--our waterways are becoming polluted by lawn fertilizers and big corporations. We have to pay attention."

Miami's performance of the National Water Dance will take place Saturday, April 12, during the Deering Festival of the Arts at the Deering Estate at Cutler (16701 SW 72 Ave. , Miami) at 4 p.m. Visit deeringestate.org and se.nationalwaterdance.org. As a precursor to the event, the Student Composers of the New World School of the Arts will feature original compositions inspired by water during their Composition Concert Monday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach). Call 305-237-7855 or visit colonytheatremiamibeach.com or nwsa.mdc.edu.

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