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Water, Water Everywhere – Local Choreographers Dive into LA's Scarcest Resource

by Rachel Levin
June 29, 2008
Los Angeles, CA
Though Los Angeles is situated next to a seemingly endless body of water, the city is notoriously dry. The glittering metropolis sprang to life only on borrowed water, drained from the Owens Valley, the California Aqueduct, and the once mighty Colorado River. And the city only gets thirstier and thirstier. With drought conditions settling into much of the state, water rationing seems imminent.

But you wouldn't know it by spending an average day in the City of Angels. Showers flow, fountains spray, waiters pour, car washes spew, and hydrants leak; meanwhile, the LA River amounts to little more than a trickle. The water problems are invisible to most Angelenos, since water service continues seamlessly.

Two new dance projects by local choreographers aim to call our attention to our complex and tenuous relationship with water. Stephan Koplowitz, the Dean of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts, and his company TaskForce present "Liquid Landscapes," a series of site-specific works based on the history and meaning of water sites in Southern California, June 29-July 6. The performances began this weekend with an evening devoted to Roman Polanski's film Chinatown, which examines the turbulent and noir-ish history of how LA procured the water it needed for its growth. Koplowitz put together an original dance film inspired by locations from Polanski's film, screened in the California Plaza Water Court. The following day, the company was back at the Water Court fountains, presenting improvisational dance that echoed the rhythms and sculptural design of this public space.

Other watery venues for the group's performances during the series include the Banning Center at the Port of Los Angeles, the beaches of Malibu, and the Los Angeles River. For a full schedule of locations and times, visit www.koplowitzprojects.com

Taking a more global approach, Linda Yudin's Viver Brasil Dance Company will perform their premiere "The Gift on the Water/Omi Odára" at the Ford Amphitheatre on July 5. Drawing from the Candomblé religion practiced in the Bahia region of Brazil, the piece pays reverence to the water spirits or orixas of the Yoruba tradition, brought to Brazil by Africans. The orixas are forces or energies that protect various elements of nature. For this performance, "We decided to pay homage to the importance of the water tradition and the importance of our environment," says artistic director Linda Yudin.

Choreographer Roseangela Silvestre has worked to bring these entities into living energies on the stage. Each water-associated orixa is associated with some aspect of human progress. There's the goddess Eua, who transformed herself into a river to feed her two children. "She's associated with the water of possibility and also the water that we drink that allows us to thrive," says Yudin. Iemenja is the ocean goddess and the mother of all the orixas. She represents the water of protection. Finally, there is Oxum, the river goddess who also oversees creativity and the arts.

When the water spirits and human progress are in accordance, everything can be said to be "Omi Odára." Says Yudin, "Omi is water in Yoruba and Odára is the concept of when everything is just right." The phrase represents a point at which "everything feels good; it's divine. That's sort of this relationship we have with the water. There's clarity." We could certainly use some of that liquid synergy in Los Angeles right now.

For tickets and more information about Viver Brasil's performance, visit www.fordtheatres.org or www.viverbrasil.com
Katiana Rush of Viver Brasil Dance Company

Katiana Rush of Viver Brasil Dance Company

Photo © & courtesy of Jorge Vismara

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