Mercyhurst Dancers Join the National Water Dance with The Ripple Effect

Categories:  Events    Arts & Culture/Entertainment
Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 at 10:45 AM
Mercyhurst Dancers Join the National Water Dance with The Ripple Effect by Sara Toth

Saturday, April 16

Erie is known for its water. It’s a part of the city’s history, and a key component of daily life. Now, to help ensure our water’s health for the future, dancers from Mercyhurst University are planning an event the coordinator describes as a “big, wild, delicious ride.” Or, more appropriately, a dance.

“This is going to be such a powerful experience for those involved,” says Solveig Santillano, an associate professor of dance at Mercyhurst and coordinator for the National Water Dance: The Ripple Effect, set to move along Erie’s waterfront soon. “It’s an amazing way to engage in your art form in a very productive and conscious way.”

National Water Dance is now it in its third iteration (the event began in 2011 in Florida and went national in 2014, when Mercyhurst dancers performed on Presque Isle). The project is a collaboration between dancers, artists, and educators working to draw attention to pressing water issues throughout the country.

The Erie event, titled The Ripple Effect, begins at 4 p.m. with dancers performing at Dobbins Landing at the foot of State Street. But they won’t be alone – across the country, dozens of groups will begin performing (all similarly near waterways) at the exact same time, with the exact same opening phrase. The dances will be live-streamed; the common gesture phrase will be repeated at the event’s close, but everything in between is choreographed to be site-specific.

In Erie, that means the dancers and their audience will process along the waterfront to the Erie Maritime Museum and Blasco Library where The Ripple Effect will culminate with poetry, film, live music, family-friendly arts and crafts, and educational presentations, including one on environmental preservation by Amy Parente, Mercyhurst associate professor of chemistry.

“The whole day has been inspired by the science of what’s happening in our waterways,” Santillano says. “I would love our audience to consider the gift that we have here living in Erie, the rich supply of water we’re blessed with. I’d love the performers and audience to come away with some perspective, and knowing they can make a difference [in being] mindful of the choices we’re making as a community.”

There are “a lot of moving parts” to the day of dance, Santillano says. Dancers, musicians, students, filmmakers, performance artists, visual artists, educators, and environmental advocates all play roles large and small in The Ripple Effect, coming together for a event she says is collaboration at its best. Furthermore, she says, events like this are what happen when “science meets up with art.”

“These things can drive us as a community to act in a mindful way, out of love, using our creative thinking and artistic expressions,” she says. “It’s a way to be motivated and be moved.” – Sara Toth

4 p.m. // Dobbins Landing, State St. // Free and open to the public // miac.mercyhurst.edu // 824.3386

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