The theme that my group, Panda Panda and I decided to do for our carnival performance was initially going to be Go Green! This topic has recently been advocated by many people because of global warming. It includes things like recycling, saving power energy and water, as well as minimizing contamination. Then we decide to make it more specific and a stronger argument by just concentrating on water conservation. As you might know California gets its water from the Sacramento and Central valleys and the Colorado River. For some people, water can be seen as limitless because here in Californian have water to the tip of their hand with a turn of a water fossett. The truth is that the water will not last if people continue to waste it. For this reason, my group and I decided that it is an important issue to convey in our parade. I believe we successfully communicated our theme through our performance. We incorporated as many elements as we could, such as props, singing, music significant according to the situation, and chants.
We first decided to determine the most common ways in which people tend to waste water. With the help of some radio and television commercials, we came up with the following: taking long showers, washing their driveway, leaving the water running while brushing their teeth, not finishing water bottles, using the hose to wash their cars, and leaving sprinklers on for a long time or letting them hit the pavement instead of the grass. My job, the choreography was suppose to illustrate these different situations. Since we did not want to simply say what people are doing wrong, the group got separated in two groups, one being the side that showed the ways people waste water and the second one being the thing we should do instead, for each situation. The order in which each set performed was determined by the amount of water being wasted according to our judgment. Each set had a one-on-one face off. The reason for the bad side to go first was to show what people are currently doing. By using the thrust move (umbigada), we learned in class, the bad side passed the performance to the good side in order to make the change.
Our walk was the introduction to our theme; therefore we tried to do something that reflected water in some way. Our walk consisted of simple movements of our hands and feet as if we were swimming ending with a clap. Before we arrived to where the judges were waiting for us, we had two basic chants. In one of them our parade leaders would say whistle to which we responded by screaming out WA-TER! The purpose of this was to basically keep people’s attention. In our second chant, Depika would yell out "Keep keep keep it up", and the whole group would respond by saying: "Keep that water level up!" I think this chant summed up our main point which was conserving water to keep our water reserves high. Once we were in our positions, both parade leader sang a song describing every situation in which people waste water.
Water levels were also included in our costumes. They were individually assigned to each person. The bad side wore red shirts, which would lead to the lowest level of reserves, while the good side wore green shirts, which signifies the highest level of water. Each person then had something on their shirts reflecting the action they were representing. For example, I was the good car wash in the parade. Our interpretation of a good car wash was to use a bucket and a sponge to wash the car. I had sponges sowed on my shirt that made a happy face.
The dance that each group member performed included gestures of certain Orishas such as Oxum, Lansa, Ogum, Oxumare, Nana, Xongo, and Omulu. Some of the songs to which we each danced also had to do with whatever we were doing. For example, I used some of Lansa and Xongo’s gesture to the dance to a slow version of the song Car Wash. On the other hand, the bad car wash used the faster crazy version of the same song. While the two people were having their confrontation, the rest of the group was communicating the story in the background. We used the sowing movement from Yemanja as a way to tie everything together. A person might only be responsible for one of the situations we were presenting, but everyone’s actions affect the same planet we all live on. Once we finished with the rounds we all got in a circle as a unified group to call the "Water God". For this, we used gestures from Oxum. She is the Orisha of everything beautiful and her element is waterfalls and rivers. To finalize the summoning we went into the center of the circle with our rain sticks and yelled "Axe", which we learned in class meant power. The significance of this was the power we all have if we worked together to try to conserve water.
Overall, I feel that we did a good job in communicating our theme in our parade. We also used important elements like gestures and music from the Orishas. As the choreographer I help my group member with parts of their dance. I tried to take some of the gesture that the professor showed in class and fit them to each role we were focusing on. Because our main argument was for people to begin to make a positive change in the benefit of our Earth, I decided to use Oxum’s gestures to call the “Rain God” at the end of our performance. She is the Orisha that has to do with water and beautiful thing, therefore it serve as symbol for our attempt to make thing better and conserving water. The one thing I would probably work on more is the walk before our performance. I felt that it was very simple and that we could have made it more fun and interesting. It was the part that most felt like a parade, therefore I felt that it could have been really improved.
I learned many things by taking this class. My only prior knowledge of Brazil was the scantily clad women dancing samba, or Carnival in Rio de Janeiro where everyone is jumping around. I thought it was very interesting how the Condomblé religion works and how they tell a whole story through dance. I was clearly incorrect in that dance can only be done for fun. I learned that we can use dance to make a statement. In a dance, every movement can have its own meaning that is relating a whole other concept. This was a very nice experience for me and I enjoyed working with my group memeber. I am really proud of what we were able to accomplised with our hard work.
Post Written by Sindy Gardea