Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reflections on a Parade by Evelynn Amabeoku

First Impressions
At first, the idea of being in a parade sent sensations of shock, anxiety, and utter disbelief when the syllabus was confirmed. Yet, several weeks later when “go” time approached, I was pumped, confident, and realizing that all of Panda’s hard work came down to this moment. Professor Anna B. Scott’s rendition of a parade was unlike anything I have ever experienced before and I was delighted by the finished product. To put it lightly, the end justified the means and we came a long way from Tuesday’s exasperating rehearsal. Just as I suspected, it took hard work, consistent effort, and a lot of communication to plan the intricate details of the parade.
Keep, Keep, Keep It Up
In the early stages of group discussion we had wanted to parade for UCR to “Go Green”, further brainstorming and consensus led us to promote conserving water. Water conservation is an important issue which is quite understated in Riverside right now. The current situation is in dire need of recognition which is why the Panda group chose to compare and contrast how we use water locally. This was demonstrated through the reenactment (dance-off) of the good and bad ways to utilize the diminishing water source in water bottles, carwashes, driveway cleaning, sprinklers for the lawn, and personal hygiene in the form of shower/bath. Everywhere I look, I see ways in which people waste water. For example, in my dorm’s lounge I see abandoned half-full/empty Aquafina bottles that no one bothers to take responsibility for and when I visit my cousin’s house I watch the never-ending trail of soapy water meander down the curb each Sunday when neighbors wash their cars. Call me OCD, but the sight and sound of a faucet that is not properly turned off bothers me to the point where I will spend time to find the spout’s “sweet-spot.” Since very few public announcements are made frequently enough to hold the attention of Californians, we wanted to make urge people to consciously use water in order to cut down the amount wasted.
Keep That Water Level Up
Our parade required participation from all our group members since we organized ourselves in set pairs. For the walk the group was arranged in to two lines and was headed by Yaheema and her friend and tailed by Noe. Yaheema set the pace of our procession during the parade and created an original introductory song for each of the Panda’s roles. The rest of us were split into two lines according to whether we represented the correct water usage or the wasteful usage. Noe was at the end of our two lines playing the water level meter with dial consisting of the four colors: red (lowest), orange, yellow, and green (high supply).
Costumes worn coincided with the members’ portrayal in the parade and were designed by Yaheema. She, her friend, and Noe put on blue shirts to signify water. The four members of the conserving water group donned green shirts for good correct usage and the other four (including myself) dressed in bright red shirts to show the spectators that we use water in a strikingly bad way. My shirt had black road strips painted on it because I played the role of the bad carwash. All of us donned water droplet head dresses to show our common need for water.
Music selections were varied and needed to convey the person’s assigned role in at least one way. I selected my song “Carwash” by Christina Aguilera and suggested the older version of the song for my good counterpart, Sindy, and gave it to the music director David. I also brought in my music collection for the group to sift through and ultimately contributed more songs such as “Smoke on the Water”, and “Skull and Crossbones”. Getting the music to playback proved frustrating, like during Tuesday’s run-through, and ultimately we utilized Garage Band.
Choreography consisted of four main parts: the walk, our fifteen seconds of fame, connecting the different parts together, and the final rain dance. Coming up with our parade walk was actually the part we spent the most time on and the source of much dispute. I worked with the choreographers to help organize and alter the walk until it achieved what we performed, our arms swimming through the needed water ending in a clap that I personally interpreted as a thunderclap . It kept changing because it was difficult to stay synchronized, rhythmically shake the rain sticks, balance props and keep up while shouting our chant “Keep, Keep, Keep it Up, Keep That Water Level Up” and the outbursts of “WAhh-TER” in response to Yaheema’s “whistle!” Next, came our individual time in the spotlight in a dance-off against the dancer who acted out the opposing use of water. I was the bad carwash and used a garden hose as a prop to illustrate how one would waste water by spraying a car haphazardly in an effort to clean it. We tried to incorporate specific orixá dances in to our parade; rather than staying true to the actual dance, my dance was inspired by the serpentine striking motions of Oxumaré and his/her natural role of carrying water from the sea to the sky so that rain forms. Periodically I pointed up to the heavens with the hose and back down to the earth to show this connection. My prop, at first, was difficult to work with because the hose was stiff and hard to maneuver gracefully, but eventually it loosened up and I could have fun with it. Additionally, a connecting move was needed to keep the group rhythm while each person performed his/her individual dance. I came up with the idea to use the sewing motion from the water associated orixá to tie the pieces together. The rain dance at the end was for Oxum to make it rain and replenish California’s water supply and we yelled “AXE” for the power of water. Many discussions arose about whether or not we should turn twice, and in which direction, and how many cycles, but when the entire Panda group got it together right, I got goosebumps of excitement and was so proud of the group for working together towards a common goal.
(Don’t?) Rain on My Parade
The challenges to pull this parade together were plenty, but I learned that I need some kind of control on projects because my group nominated me as group leader. When working in a group, you get out what you put in and I like to believe that I helped my members in anyway that they needed and motivated them to put in the effort. Success would be if we enlightened the UC Riverside campus about the limited fresh water sources in California and convinced them to conserve water. Additional excitement would have played out if our ending rain dance had brought rain down on our parade, but at least we had clouds!

Blog Final written by Evelynn Amabeoku

1 comment:

  1. Evelynn, you are a fantastic writer. Thank you for that. It was not until this blog entry that I understood the complete idea behind your group's parade. That said, the thing that made it difficult to "read" was the proximity of the dueling lines and the lack of facial expressions. The two groups looked more like sets of couples. Had each dancer not 1) used the umbigada to pass the stage to the other and 2)danced so close to the previous dancer, I believe that the parade would have been much clearer. Perhaps, the "through line" was Noe, the water meter. If he were to have been in the middle of the play area, between each set of performers, getting happier or sadder/weaker depending on whether they were saving or wasting water, the subtle differences between the performances would have been amplified and supported. I'm sorry that I was not able to catch that in time. The battle aspect was not clear to me.
    All in all, there was just a bit too much chaos leading into your final performance for the entire group to pull it completely off. You guys made significant strides in those final 30 hours, but what would it have been had you all worked together for the final 2 weeks? I mean, really, you guys were the only group with a headdress, an original composed and performed live theme song and a chant! That was outstanding. But you were also the group that was clearly rehearsed the least. Always do your best and give yourself enough time to be brilliant, because you are.
    parade: √
    write-up: √++