Celebrating Earth Day on the Trails of History

If you're looking for ways to enjoy this April weather, be sure to check out the April program page.

Today's post comes from frequent guest blogger Linda Bolla, writing about the Erie Maritime Museum's participation in the local expression of a project called "National Water Dance." The event took place last weekend. I also want to note that Eckley Miners' Village worked with folks from their local Keystone Job Corps Center to plant a tree in honor of Earth Day (I believe this is the second year (or more) that they've done this).

Water Dancers from coast to coast created a “movement choir,” performing simultaneously to draw attention to pressing water issues in the United States. Using the power of art and performance, the goal is to help create a national water ethic that can inform and inspire both performers and audience to take responsibility for conserving and protecting the water we use and enjoy.

The Erie Committee (led by Mercyhurst University Associate Professor of Dance Solveig Santilliano) subtitled the local event “The Ripple Effect” to emphasize our hope that the event would create a ripple throughout Erie, educating the community on water issues and suggesting steps the community can take to improve local water quality.

All participants performed in or near a significant body of water in their own community, so it was no surprise the dance in Erie began at Dobbins Landing, the oldest historic and most accessible pier on Erie Harbor.

Water Dancers at Erie's Dobbins Landing pier (photo by Mark Santilliano)

Performers and audience, led by saxophonist Kevin Timko, then processed along the waterfront to the Erie Maritime Museum, pausing for bits of theater along their way. When the audience arrived, they were greeted by dancers performing vignettes in six separate spaces in the Museum. Unique to the Erie event was the diversity of artistic offerings. In addition to dance, the Museum hosted a visual and sculptural art exhibit (on the 1st Floor through May 8th), the Delaware Gap Jazz Combo, and demonstrating artist, Keiko Miller, who created Japanese screens illustrating the water cycle and incorporating her students’ calligraphy and origami.

Dancers in the Museum's main gallery (photo by Mark Santilliano)
An enthusiastic audience member joins in the dancing (photo by Dana Borczon)

After the audience flowed through the Museum and lobby, where Mercyhurst University student ambassadors led a rainstick activity for children, the event culminated in a main stage celebration, showcasing Mercyhurst University dancers, musicians and vocalists, as well as dancers from many other Erie dance studios. The program was woven around narrative by Dr. Amy Parente of the university’s Chemistry Department, with poetic interludes provided by the middle-school winners of the NW Pennsylvania Poetry Contest.

"Down to the River to Pray," performed by Mercyhurst Dancers (photo by Mark Santilliano)

So, are you inspired yet? Happy Earth Day – and make every day, earth day.


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