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Clean Water is Our Right: Dancing for Water in New Mexico

Keshet Dance Company, National Water Dance 2018 - Pyragraph
Keshet Dance Company, National Water Dance 2018. Photo credit: Carolyn Tobias.

Contributor Lara Segura is a dance activist that explores themes rooted in social justice, environmental consciousness and community engagement. She has extensive experience as a professional performer, educator, producer, and choreographer. She holds a BFA from SDSU and an MFA in Choreography from JU. She has had the pleasure of working with a number of excellent institutions including Mojalet Dance Collective, Malashock Dance, Jacksonville University, San Diego Dance Theater and Keshet Dance & Center for the Arts. Lara’s love of nature has inspired her passion for site-specific dance and she is honored to serve as an Ambassador for National Water Dance.

On April 18, 2020, movers from across the nation will join together in simultaneous dances for water. Each National Water Dance seeks to bring awareness to local water issues and a global call to action on climate change. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the water dance will take place in the community of Mountain View as part of a Celebration of Environmental Justice entitled Abrazos, a word that means to embrace. This year we embrace the right for all living entities to have access to the precious resource that is clean water.

I find that dance, as a nonverbal art form, can make subjects that may be difficult to discuss less abrasive and more accessible.

In the planning stages for this special event I found myself, a dance activist and choreographer, in a room full of experts in environmental justice. I took our first meeting together as an opportunity to ask these local experts what they deemed the most prominent water issues in Albuquerque. The responses included water contamination from large business institutions, long periods of drought and inconsistent precipitation, and longer, hotter warm seasons due to climate change that could result in a future of prolonged periods of extremely low water flow in local water sheds. The quality and quantity of water in the state is an ongoing battle, and these environmental justice organizations are joining together in the fight to restore natural conditions by protecting endangered species and lagoons that support wildlife, and educating communities to ensure resilience for the future.

Lara Segura - Pyragraph
Lara Segura, Keshet Dance Company member and National Water Dance, New Mexico Ambassador. Photo credit: Sue Brenner Photography.

As a recent transplant from California, I now find myself in a landlocked state, where my eyes take in desert landscape at every turn. Water is a certainly a precious resource everywhere in the country, but its importance is amplified in New Mexico’s arid climate. So, what can be done to preserve this invaluable resource? Life in the desert means that water management, treatment, and conservation is essential. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has implemented several water efficiency measures such as ABCWUA’s Operation Low Flow program which offers rebates on Water Sense labeled showerheads, toilets, and flushing urinals to make it easy for residents to save both water and money. These efforts have paid off; from 1994 to 2011, ABCWUA’s customers reduced their water use from 252 gallons per day to 150 gallons per day.

Decolonizing landscapes is also key. This means avoiding water greedy landscaping, such as grass, and instead designing outdoor landscapes with eco-friendly grass alternatives such as artificial turf, rock, and local, water-friendly native fauna. Collecting and reusing rainwater to mitigate runoff, watering outdoor plants during the low evaporation hours of the day, only washing full loads of laundry and dishes, avoiding running faucets when doing household chores, or brushing one’s teeth and only flushing toilets when necessary are all simple examples of how individual efforts can add up to big impacts.

Rio Grande - Pyragraph
Water is vital in the desert. A view of the Rio Grande from Albuquerque’s Open Space. Photo credit: City of Albuquerque, CC by 2.0.

Historically, art has been a powerful catalyst for inspiring change. National Water Dance is no different in its intent. My background as an artist is in the medium of dance. Dance, for me, has always served as a means of self-expression, a means to educate and invoke critical thought and ultimately, inspire action. I find that dance, as a nonverbal art form, can make subjects that may be difficult to discuss less abrasive and more accessible. My aim with National Water Dance is first and foremost to invite the community to share their thoughts, words, and movements. I would like to design a dance that curates the powerful voices and lived experiences of the folks that reside in the Mountain View region as well as the greater Albuquerque area. The goal is to bring people together and build community over the shared common goal, which, in this instance, is drawing attention to the universal right to clean water.

Each person’s experience with water is very different. I used to have a roommate that was terrified of water. I am personally uncomfortable with the frozen forms such snow, sleet, and hail. Others identify with the peace found in the sound of the rain, a gentle stream or the crash of ocean waves. Still others find joy in watersports and other recreational activities that stem from access to water. Yet, there are those that have experienced a lack of access to clean water and all of the atrocities that occur in such situations. My desire is for Albuquerque’s upcoming water dance to honor all of these stories, perhaps reminding spectators of their own unique relationship with water and ideally inspiring a personal desire to become an agent of change.

Clean water is a right, not only to ongoing generations of humanity but to nature as a whole.

Water is life. It is as cliché as it is a universal truth. No life exists without it. We are made up of it and therefore, deeply connected to it. That’s why it’s so critical that we plan to ensure that all life have access to clean, life-sustaining water. This is what we aim to embody with our contribution to National Water Dance. Our dance will welcome the gentle sway of the trees in the wind as a reminder of the eternal ebb and flow of ocean waves. Our bodies will reveal the circular stages of the water cycle. We will endeavor to manifest the timeless quality of nature as it stands in service as a witness over time. We will find peace in the beauty and honor the ancient land—past, present and future. Clean water is a right, not only to ongoing generations of humanity but to nature as a whole. It must not be denied.

National Water Dance New Mexico

Saturday, April 18, 2pm MST (Livestream)

Where: Abrazos: A Community Celebration of Environmental Justice at Mountain View Community Center, 201 Prosperity Ave SE, ABQ 87105 [ Full Event is 11:30am – 2:30pm]

Free & Open to the Public

For more info, visit keshetarts.org/join-national-water-dance-nm-2020-dancing-for-water-in-new-mexico/

To participate in the Movement Choir, all are welcome. No dance experience is required. Sign up here.



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