Water conservation is an issue facing the people of California everyday, especially in parts of Southern California. In June 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency because water reservoir levels had reached an all time low. With that in mind my parade group, “Panda Panda”, decided to focus on water conservancy instead of the broader idea of “going green” because it was a great message to convey to the public. Deciding how we were going to portray the idea of water conservation however, was a long process.
Having to incorporate different elements from lectures and readings also proved to be a challenge because we didn’t know how to use different orixa dances and music while still portraying water conservation. The first step we took after deciding what topic we wanted to base our parade on was to assign different jobs to group members. The original job that I was assigned to was locations person. As locations person my job was to find a location to hold our parade in that was on campus and that would worked well with our theme. The location we finally decided on was the field by the A&I dorms, it had a clear open space, and it was big enough to hold our entire parade. We also chose it as our parade location because it had a dried up pond by it and we thought that would be a good representation on decreasing water levels. After we had the location of the parade selected, the choreographers met up to decide how to incorporate dances and different walks into our parade.
Deciding on how to arrange the parade was not as hard as other parts of the parade. We decided to divide the group into two different groups; one group would portray the good conservation methods while the opposing group would portray bad water conservation methods. We also decided on portraying 5 different water conservation methods: water bottles, car wash, cleaning driveways, showers, and sprinklers. Each different group portrayed either a good way to conserve water through these different methods or a bad method in which you waste water instead of conserving it.
Water levels in California are based on a colored chart that ranges from high water levels to extremely low levels of water. The colors in the chart are green, the highest level; yellow; orange; and red, which is the lowest level. Based on this our group decide that the good group would wear green costumes and the bad group would wear red costumes. The costumes were kept fairly simple with each pair of good and bad method having different props to distinct them from other groups. We also decided that we would all wear blue jeans to unify our group and headbands that displayed water drops to represent our theme.
The basis of our parade was a “dance off” between the good methods and the bad methods; each person had a ten to fifteen second solo where they would portray an orixa dance that represented either bad water conservation or good water conservation. Each person based their dance off of different orixa moves, many of those moves came from Oxum because she is the orixa that symbolizes fresh water. For example, the role that I played was a bad method of showering, where I would take my time in the shower and in the end waste water. So in my dance I performed the move that symbolized Oxum looking into the mirror because that represented me taking a long shower, looking in the mirror and singing to my rubber ducky. My costume consisted of a red shirt, blue jeans, a bathrobe, and of course, a rubber ducky. Each person also had a specific song clip that went along with their dance, in my case it was Sesame Street’s “Rubber Ducky” song, which is more slow paced song to go along with my elongated shower.
During the dance off, the two groups of good and bad methods were lined up side by side. The dance off started with one member of our group and her friend singing a song about water conservation and the different methods one can use to approach it. After that each pair performed their dance, starting off with the bad water conservation method in each case. The order in which each pair performed also had significance in our parade. We started off with the method that wasted the least amount of water, water bottles, then car washes, then driveway cleaning methods, showers, and lastly sprinklers which can waste many gallons of water in a day.
After the last pair performed we came together as a group and formed a circle and proceeded to perform a rain dance, which I personally enjoyed the most. The way our group entered and walked out of parade was the same walk; we formed two lines which consisted of the good and bad methods and would perform different hand gestures, swimming and clapping. To pump up onlookers as well as our group, different member would yell out sayings that would signal the group as a whole to yell out a cheer about water and water levels.
Looking back at our performance, I can say that all the time and effort that was put into it ended in a satisfying result and an overall great performance. In preparation for our final parade, our group met up several times during the week; either to practice dance routines or to go over costumes and props. Unfortunately it was that case that not every member was present in one meeting because of conflicting schedules. One thing that did change over the course of our preparation was that our parade was no longer going to take place in the original location that had been chosen. Instead a route around our classroom was laid out, and in return ended up changing my job as locations person. After the location of our parade changed, I started to help out the members in charge of props. Because we decide to perform a rain dance to finish off our parade, we were in need of rain sticks to make the appearance of the rain dance more realistic. I helped out the props people by making rain sticks for everyone in the group; making green ones for the good group and red rain sticks for the bad group. I personally think that this parade was an on-going learning experience because it not only taught me about the water conservation issues that face us everyday but it also taught me how to work better with others to pull off something as big as a parade. Being part of this group also taught me to overcome my nerves about performing in front of a crowd of people in a silly costume. Even though it took quiet awhile for everyone to come together and decide on the best dance moves, songs, and costumes, I believe that all our hard work paid off because we were able to pull off the parade and hopefully encouraged onlookers to consider better ways to conserve our water.