On September 24, 2015, more than 100 members of the Butler Ballet performed Riverrun, a site-specific dance choreographed by Butler University Dance Professor Cynthia Pratt for the StreamLines project. This dance was part of the programming for the project’s launch and performed in Holcomb Gardens on the campus of Butler University.
Riverrun brings to life scientific concepts and concerns about human intervention of the waterways in Indianapolis. The dance takes the audience on a journey of the water. While the dance did have a beginning, middle and end, it was structured as an installation, where audience members could walk around the area, exploring each image fully in their own time and have discussion.
The proximity of the audience to the dancers gave onlookers the feeling that they were part of the performance rather than just observers. The overriding goal of the dance was to convey that we are part of our environment rather than separate from it, and whatever impacts the waterways greatly affects our lives.
The original live performance is divided into six parts for online audiences.
Part 1 – Rainstorm/Overflow:
Riverrun opens as the dancers enter from behind a large fountain, in small groups. They are jumping intermittently to depict the beginning of a rainstorm. As the group enlarges as more dancers join in, the jumps increase in frequency and speed, showing the growing intensity of the storm. Finally, the area overflows. The overflow is not simply caused by the heavy precipitation, but also due to the presence of extensive impermeable surfaces, such as parking lots, which don’t allow for the natural absorption and filtration of the rainfall. As the dancers separate to show the water overflowing, there is a slight sensation of elasticity to show the surface tension of water. The dancers move across the stage in a stream, pooling and swirling along the way, picking up debris in their path. This is to illustrate surface runoff and erosion in the case of a heavy rainstorm as well as the tendency of an overflow to carry toxins into the waterways. Riverrun continues as dancers form a line that twists and turns across the space.
Overflow is common to many of the urban waterways in Indianapolis including Little Eagle Creek, which is located on the northwest side of Indianapolis. Little Eagle Creek runs through International Marketplace/Lafayette Square area and through Eagledale, Speedway before spilling into Eagle Creek.
The music for Part 1 is “The White River” by Hanna Benn, a musical composition created for StreamLines.