By Jennifer Jones
BRIDGEPORT ‑ It is the most essential element to all life on Earth. It is a life-saving resource that nourishes both the body and soul. Yet in many parts of the world, safe, fresh drinking water is limited or not available.
“Who controls it? Who has it? Who doesn’t? What is our responsibility towards this beautiful, flowing combination of hydrogen and oxygen?”
These are among some of the questions that are boldly and artistically addressed in “Water Wars,” a full production dance piece performed by the Sonia Plumb Dance Company of West Hartford to the original music by award winning composer, Cory Gabel.
“Water Wars” premiered in September at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford and will be presented at Housatonic Community College on November 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. The event is open to the public at no charge.
Sonia Plumb, choreographer and founder of the Dance Company, says that “Water Wars” is “my response to what is happening concerning water and water conservation. It is about our physical and spiritual relationship to water which is necessary for life.”
The dance presentation addresses different aspects of the relationship between water and humanity. “For example,” says Plumb, a West Hartford resident who teaches Modern Dance at HCC, “There is a section called ‘Displaced,’ which is about a couple forced from their home due to climate change events such as flood or drought.” She adds, “There is also a section called ‘River,’ which embodies the physical beauty of rivers and then another about the power struggle over who controls water.”
Plumb started her dance company in 1990 and has since choreographed over thirty pieces for the Company including “The Wanderings of Odysseus” based on “The Odyssey;” “Into the Wildwoods,” which is choreographed to Celtic music; and “Frost and Field,” which combines movement with the poetry of Robert Frost and the artwork of Sabra Field.
The Company has performed throughout Connecticut in concerts, festivals, and adjudicated choreography showcases. Plumb notes that as the Company grew, “we added educational programs and community outreach workshops as part of our programming.”
With one of those programs, “Dare to Dance,” a series of movement workshops and performances, the Company brought dance education and performances to dozens of senior, minority, and underserved communities across the Northeast.
In 2002, Plumb put the dance company on hold to focus on raising her family and teaching. In 2011, she “reformed the board and put together a group of dancers I was excited to work with,” she says. “With this reincarnation I hope to tour more and create a solid working environment for my dancers.”
On combining dance with water, Plumb says that besides her love of dancing, she is an environmentalist at heart. “I grew up in Vermont and the outdoors was a big part of my life,” says Plumb. “I follow news stories closely about global warming, deforestation and other environmental issues on a regular basis.”
“A few years ago,” Plumb continues, “I decided I wanted to make a dance about water. There were lots of headlines about water shortages, privatization and water bottles. As I started researching this issue, I found there was a lot of information the general public doesn’t know or isn’t aware of, especially in our own country.”
“Water Wars” is not only about the problems associated with water, but as Plumb notes, “I also wanted to make a piece that celebrated water, so the dance has that element as well. For me it’s always been about the dance and the power of dance to express a thought or meaning.”
“Art has the power to resonate on a deeper, emotional level than just reading about water,” says Plumb, “I choreographed ‘Water Wars’ in hope that audiences would take a deeper look at water in their own lives as well as those across the globe.” She adds, “My wish is that people will become more proactive where water conservation is concerned.”
The event is open to the public at no charge. HCC is located at 900 Lafayette Blvd. in Downtown Bridgeport, less than 150 yards off I-95 (Exit 27) and Rte. 8 (Exit 1), a block from the Harbor Yard sports complex.
Jennifer Jones is a journalism intern at Housatonic Community College.