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"This is a chance to strengthen the ties between our cities and awaken our consciousness to the environmental impacts associated with our existence. All too often we forget that our connection to the earth is a connection to each other, and these simultaneous, site-specific performances will create a sense of interconnectedness that transcends our local community relationships, reminding us that we are all one in a great, eternal whole, so we must protect and nurture our bonds."

C. Ray Nagin, Mayor New Orleans

OUR VISION
For the nation to embrace the Mississippi River and its watershed as shared resource, and for individuals and communities to become better stewards of the river.

OUR MISSION
Through simultaneous Mississippi River performances, to bring national attention to the river, its health and its shared culture.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The One River Mississippi project encompasses seven simultaneous performances in seven venues along the river beginning with the headwaters in Itasca, winding down to Minneapolis, the Quad Cities, St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and ending at the last city at the river’s mouth, Venice, Louisiana. This public art event, which is free and open to the public, has gained a timeliness and a new sense of commitment given the recent devastation downriver, will create synchronous energy and understanding of the interconnectedness that goes beyond one’s immediate local environment to encompass an entire ecosystem. The peoples of this ecosystem will have the opportunity to work together to honor the “One River” that spans our nation, through the interdisciplinary skills of the arts, sciences, and community organizing. 

This event aims to create beauty and joy and to draw attention up and down the Mississippi River by engaging community members, dancers and environmentalists as performers, co-creators and audience members. Past site-specific performances created by Artistic Director Marylee Hardenbergh, always have connected the hearts of the audience to the site at which the performance takes place. Our hope is that as people learn to love the river, they will want to take better care of it.

Radio simulcasts will musically unite the performances as audiences realize their local dance is part of a larger whole; as indeed they and their communities are linked by the Mississippi River. Engineers will hook-up live audio and visual interactive connections that will support this theme of interconnectedness, allowing live audiences to participate in a seven-way call and response between people and communities, and to see what is happening at the other sites. As people begin to relate to the world around them with renewed eyes and hearts, a greater sense of empowerment and responsibility will bloom.

Each community-based performance, created by a team consisting of a locally respected choreographer, a project manager, and an environmental advisor will showcase talents and resources in that locale. All the cities will work in collaboration with each other and within themselves to heighten awareness, set goals, and take action on environmental initiatives for improving the water quality of the entire length of the Mississippi. Our project brings together beauty, community development, and a positive environmental focus. We see this as an important step towards helping people deeply experience their personal connection to the whole ecosystem.

All of our work involves the community on a hands-on basis. We invite people who live and work in the vicinity to be performers. Our past performances have included up to 70 performers, and the audience has been as large as 5,000. This is a powerful art that can make a bold statement, in which the community feels very involved. After the first performance on the Mississippi River in 1985, a stranger called to say, “I’m sorry if I am bothering you. I got your name out of the phone book and I just wanted to say thank you for giving the river back to the people.” 

The mayor of New Orleans, C. Ray Nagin in May 2005, put it best in his letter when he wrote to Hardenbergh voicing his support of the project,


This is a chance to strengthen the ties between our cities and awaken our consciousness to the environmental impacts associated with our existence. All too often we forget that our connection to the earth is a connection to each other, and these simultaneous, site-specific performances will create a sense of interconnectedness that transcends our local community relationships, reminding us that we are all one in a great, eternal whole, so we must protect and nurture our bonds.

The power of this art form and project is that it gives each individual a vehicle through which to engage with the river on a personal basis. The performance creates time to stop, to look, to feel. It affords everyone the opportunity to have a deeper experience with themselves, with the environment, and with each other. People report over and over after these performances that they will never see the site in the same way ever again. Thus, the performance gives people a means by which to create their own connection to the river, to sense their own commitment to the site. The choreographers from all of the sites have been connecting via conference calls and Choreographers Summit meetings where all gather together to create the moves that will unite the river.

We especially welcome those who are unable to afford a ticket to see a dance performance, and those for whom this will be the first time they have attended an outdoor site-specific performance.

 

 

One River Mississippi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview
June 24
2006