This Sunday, August 2, at 11am, Global Water Dances-Cincinnati will take place at the Serpentine Wall (more specifically, along the Ohio at Yeatman’s Cove and between the Purple People and Suspension Bridge). Once again this enviro-arts performance will coincide with Paddlefest. To find out more about this annual event, I interviewed Shari Lauter, MEd., the Global Water Dances-Cincinnati Event & Music Director.
What’s your role in the Global Water Dances? GWD-Cincinnati is a co-creation of Fanchon Shur (Choreography and original vision) and myself (original Worldbeat music and silk oceanscapes). As well as co-creating the performance, I direct the Choir, World Drum Orchestra, and for our 2015 event I’ve served as Event Manager.
What’s your favorite thing about the Global Water Dance? Such a tough question, Jeff! So many things are fabulous–the dance, the setting at Serpentine Wall. But perhaps my overarching favorite thing is that it uses the arts to share a critical environmental message. And over 50 passionate Cincinnati artists come together to create it–100% volunteer!
Tell me about the musicians and dancers…Some of the finest musicians in our area. Baba Charles Miller on lead Djembe. Saba Smith and Kathryne Gardette on Lead Vocals. Jon Lattier (Almighty Get Down) on Bass. Richard Branham (Sankofa) on congas. A few Cincinnati ’80s punkers on vocals (Kelly Hale and Viv Vinyl…and myself, too). The top dancers from modern, belly dance, and sacred dance communities: Renee McAfferty, Fran Bailey, Irene Mirci, Mary Kamp.
How did Global Water Dance get started? A group of insightful Laban Movement Analysts at a workshop in England birthed the idea in 2008. See the global website: http://globalwaterdances.org/the-event/about/
How widespread is the event? In 2015, 80 global locations offered dances on 6 continents! See the global website for the full list as well as some gorgeous clips from around the globe: http://globalwaterdances.org/global-locations/
This takes place at the Ohio River. How’s it doing, ecologically speaking? Hmmmmmmm…Not so well, I hear. For the 7th year in a row it’s been identified as the most polluted body of water in the US. Not a proud distinction. Factoring in that our city water supply comes from the river, even more concerning. Now, I do know that a few years back the water works invested $30 million in an advanced purification system—assume it’s more high-powered than your typical water faucet filter! But the reason behind having to do so, well, that’s worrisome. Listen to a report from local news leader WVUX: http://wvxu.org/post/liquid-assets-how-cincinnati-became-world-water-leader#stream/0 and also see http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/water/news/gcww-launches-uv-treatment-facility/
After the bad chemical spill in W Va on the Elk River in January 2014, our water intakes were closed for 20 hours while the spill traveled by Cincinnati on its way to ultimately join the rest of the crud in the Gulf of Mexico. Only 20 hours of river closure didn’t affect our water stores. But if this had gone on for several weeks (as it did in W VA at the site of the spill)… who knows? We may have seen an impact. For more on this topic see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/09/west-virginia-spill-anniversary_n_6437352.html
(Concerning water) Are things getting better, or worse? And can Global Water Dance actually have an impact? Water issues abound around the globe. In California, there’s NO water (except when they have the occasional torrential rain which their infrastructure can’t handle). Here, as you know, we’ve been getting such powerful and plentiful rain it feels like Central Florida in July, not our typical Cincinnati. In parts of Africa embroiled in civil/tribal strife, women sometimes have to walk many miles to get to the well—intercepted by rapist militias en route. Wells are drying up in various parts of the US and around the globe, due to either lack of rainfall or man-made interference like chemical fracturing, known as “Fracking.” And Fracking—while it’s a heavily politicized topic, bottom line is, the chemicals used in this natural gas extraction process are highly toxic, and creeping into aquifers and finding their way into homes where tap water can be LIT with a flame. This isn’t normal, healthy, or desirable—or sustainable. Also—upriver in W Va there’s been a licensed issues to allow fracking UNDER the OHIO RIVER!. Just how bad an idea is this? Consider W Va is the most upriver state, any chemicals that leach into the water from that point affect all the points downstream –which is, in other words, all these states: Ohio, KY, IN, IL, MO, TN, AK, MS, LA as well as W Va. For more info see: http://www.nofrackohio.com/ The GOOD NEWS is, all around the globe, Global Water Dances are using the arts to bring awareness to the fact that we need to pay more attention to our water supply–and do so, now!
Shari Lauter, MEd.
Global Water Dances-Cincinnati Event & Music Director