RIVER/BODY

. . . we can sense the world around us only because we are entirely a part of this world, because by virtue of our own carnal density and dynamism we are wholly embedded in the depths of the earthly sensuous. We are born of these very waters, this very air, this loamy soil, this sunlight. Nourished and sustained by the substance of the breathing earth, we are flesh of its flesh. David Abram, Becoming Animal

When you arrive in a new place, in just a few days the 70% of your body that is water is now from that watershed. Andrea Olsen, Body and Earth

RIVER/BODY is a site-specific, multidisciplinary, community-engaging dance project inspired by the Housatonic River and watershed, created by Paula Josa-Jones in collaboration with dancers Amy Wynn, Aislinn MacMaster, Dillon Paul and Sandrine Harris. They will be joined by DeAnna Pellecchia and several young dancers from the area. Other collaborators include actor Evangeline Johns, and Connecticut musician John Marshall.

Inspired by and performed in the Housatonic River, RIVER/BODY asks, how does the continuous coming and going of the river waters, parallel our own short lives? What are our own wild currents? What is the heart of the river, the mind of the river and how are we a part of each other?

Our intention is to express the consanguinity of the body of the river habitat with our own wild, fluid bodies - the intense and immediate way that our bodies and the body of the earth are inseparably intertwined. We are water bodies living on a water planet. RIVER/BODY is about awakening the compassionate heart of that relationship.

We live on a water planet: 70% of the earth's surface is covered with water. We are water beings: 60 - 70% of the human body is water. Our once casual relationship to water and often unconscious relationship to our own bodies are co-mingled in the growing social and ecological crises. RIVER/BODY is our response to the global rising tide of water-related concerns and connects with all of the water-is-life efforts around the globe. We want to make dance - the precious vulnerability of the moving body - an essential part of that conversation.

The Housatonic - named usi-a-di-en-uk meaning beyond the mountains - is wild and turbulent in some places, bucolic in others, running from Pittsfield, Massachusetts to the Long Island Sound. Besides its extraordinary beauty, the river has a troubled history, involving the unregulated dumping of toxic chemicals by General Electric upriver, which continues to affect the entire river habitat, including fish, frogs, turtles, and waterfowl. The river waters upstream are still contaminated. Further downstream, the PCBs are held in the silt of the river bottom and the banks.

When the dancers and I first entered the river last summer, we had no idea how powerful and emotional that experience would be. Almost immediately, we felt ourselves in an intimate, even tender relationship with the beingness of the river. Then a friend sent me this beautiful story by Lakota artist and activist Pat McCabe, and I understood that as we moved with the waters, we were feeling the very consciousness of the water. For more about that, watch this video by Bernd Muller.

Dancing in the river is very different from dancing on a stage, or even a grassy lawn. There are the slippery rocks, the fallen logs, the continuous, persuasive current. Entering the water, we are blending our bodies with the body of the river - allowing ourselves to be danced by the waters. Every performance is unique and shaped by the river on that day.

Costumes will wrap and extend the bodies of the performers, integrating layers of dyed and painted fabric with natural materials such as leaves, branches, bark, and mud. The visual design includes wrapped branches and rocks, bundles of sticks, flowers, grasses, and vessels for holding, carrying and pouring water.

Using metal bowls, gourds, rocks, water, and found objects, the Water Orchestra - a group of students and community members - will create the sonic environment of the dance, in collaboration with John Marshall. The dancers will also "play" the water during the performance, inspired by the water drumming women of Banks Islands in the South Pacific.

RIVER/BODY partners with the Housatonic Valley Association, Northwest Connecticut Arts Council, Housatonic Heritage Foundation and Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Performances will take place on the Housatonic River in Connecticut and tributary rivers in Massachusetts and New York. Following the premiere in New England, we plan to take this dance to other rivers in the U.S. and other countries, collaborating with an international community of artists and audiences.

Please join us in making River/Body a reality!
Paula Josa-Jones/Performance Works is a non-profit 501c3 organization.
You may make your tax-deductable donation

HERE

or send a donation by snail mail to:
Paula Josa-Jones/Performance Works
P.O. Box 707
Kent, CT 06757

Thank you!