Dancers will perform along the Mississippi River on Saturday, simultaneously putting on a show at points hundreds of miles apart. Marylee Hardenbergh is founder of “One River Mississippi.” She’s a choreographer who’s been creating site-specific dance performances on the Mississippi since 1985. Her art form is creating dances specifically for one space.
“They can be indoor or outdoor, but all of mine are outdoor,” Hardenbergh says. The music, the costumes and the movements of each dance are all created for that one particular site. From the headwaters of the Mississippi to its mouth at New Orleans, seven metro areas including the Quad Cities are highlighted for this event.
Hardenbergh says the planning extends to even the spectators. They can’t stand with the sun in their eyes, and they must be comfortable and able to see. When planning a performance, she says, “I find a site, I find a place for the audience to be, and then I ‘drink in’ the site and find ways to make that site come alive.” She says the performance in Iowa tomorrow combines art, community and ecology.
Thanks to cooperation from the Army Corps of Engineers, there will be dancers on Lock & Dam 15 at Rock Island. It’s near an eagle-viewing area, and the dancers will wear costumes suggestive of eagles, while other performers will appear on water skis and canoes, and dancing on pleasure craft on the river. “The whole site is going to come alive!” Hardenbergh declares.
Organizers have letters of support from mayors of rivertowns along the Mississippi, and proclamations from the governors of all the ten states along the river’s mainstem, proclaiming this Saturday “One River Mississippi Day.” “My dream is that the governors eventually all get together and sign a ten-state charter wanting to take care of our river.”
Even fifteen years after one of her performances, people have told her about passing a riverside performance site and still thinking of how beautiful a landscape was with all the color and music of a performance. “There’s some thing that happens with these site-specific performances so that the audience feel connected to that site in their hearts.” The program also features seven environmental issues and seven featured “Heroes of the Mississippi,” from historical figures to Iowa cleanup activist Chad Pregracke.
Related web sites:
One River Mississippi