“Keep, keep, keep it up! Keep that water level up!” Yes, indeed that was our theme, water conservation. At first we were planning on focusing entirely on the concept of “Going Green,” but Ryan told us that it was too broad and that we would have too much information to cover in a single parade. To be honest, I am not entirely sure how we stumbled upon our theme of water conversation; I just remember agreeing to it. When giving it some thought, I realized that it really did bother me how there were so many broken sprinklers just at UCR that did nothing but water the cement for hours and hours everyday. It took a while for the group to get started with everything, but once we began, we did not take any breaks until the final day of the performance.
We started by having several meeting. Most of them consisted of the choreographers, the musician, the props person, and our blogger/ video man. At the very first meeting we came up with the idea that the performance would be like a dance competition and we stuck to it. We wanted to present different scenarios that showed how water was being wasted and how one can prevent it from happening. The parade started off with a walk. Everyone walked in a line besides their partners while making a swimming notion with their hands and then bringing them together for a sync clap. We did this just to show one of the many ways we use water in our lives, by swimming. While we walked, every now and then I would shot out, “Keep, keep, keep it up!” The group would follow by saying, “Keep that water level up!” This is where the research part of the project came in. Carol looked up that there were different levels of water and various colors that represent how much water we had. Red means that we are in a drought, and green meant that we were doing well and had plenty of water. We wanted the water level to stay up (meaning green on the charts) so that is what we were shouting to keep it up. Also Yaheema would shout “Whistle” and the group would reply by saying “Wa-ter.” This was done simply to get everyone excited.
The parade started of with Yaheema and her friend singing about ways to conserve water, while introducing the five water scenarios at the same time. The first two people to perform were Arzely and Avneet. Their topic was water bottles. Arzley acted like the devil because she drank out of multiple plastic water bottles while wasting away half of the water in them and tossing them to the ground when she was done. She danced like Ogum throughout her performance. Avneet was the like the angel who drank out of just one reusable water bottle while dancing like Yemanja. The next couple was Evelyn and Sindy and their topic was car wash. Evelyn was the bad car washer who used a hose and wasted gallons of waters just to clean a vehicle. Sindy on the other hand used just a pail and sponge to clean the car. They danced like Lansa and Oxumare during the performance. Next, came Jonathan and I and our topic was cleaning driveways. Jonathon used a hose to get rid of the leaves while I used a broom and a bag. Our dances consisted of moves from Oxumare and Nana. After us, came Monique and Diana and they showed different ways of taking showers while mimicking the dance moves of Oshum. Diana took a very slow shower while dancing away with her rubber ducky, while Monique showered very quickly. Lastly, came David and Carol and their topic was water sprinklers. David danced like Xongo while acting like a very good sprinkler who watered the grass appropriately. Carol, on the other hand, was an example of a broken sprinkler who watered everything, but the grass. She danced like Omulu throughout her performance. The performance ended up with the entire group doing the rain dance, while shaking their rain sticks (made by Diana). We were attempting to call the Orisha that most related to water, Oxum, so that she would help “keep, keep, keep the water level up!”
As for the music, I helped David and Jonathon come up with a track list. We had decided to give everyone his or her own song; after all, it was a dance off. Some of the songs related to water such as “Smoke on the Water, “ but most of them were just what we felt sounded right and went with the particular dances. At first, this gave us problem because we had single tracks and we were confused as to how to turn it into just one piece. I came up with the idea of have a transition sound in between each track and eventually we just used Apple’s wonderful feature Garage Band to turn it into one track.
The costumes for our parade were quite simple. Yaheema and Carol were in charge and they decided to give the water conservationists green shirts. According to the scale, that is the color and level that we should be at when water is being saved. The water wasters wore red shirts because that is the worst level to be on, meaning that water is not being used as it should be. Each particular shirt had something special on it, relating it to each person’s individual topic. I decided to sew leaves on to my shirt because I was supposed to be raking leaves in my scenario. Also everyone was to wear blue jeans as well as a raindrop on their heads. This was just so that we looked somewhat in uniform.
Since I decided to take the leadership role in the group, it seemed to me as if we encountered many problems. If everything was not as close to perfect as it could be, something was wrong. We were and did focus on our theme of water conservation a lot and I felt like it was well presented. It was shown through our walk, parade, costumes, props, and even some of the music. However, the group came across quite a few other problems. Like mentioned before, we were having a hard time figuring out how to make multiple tracks into one, then we could not decided on one particular walk, but probably the biggest and most annoying problem was getting everyone together. I took it upon myself to give everyone multiple phone calls a day to meet up and many times members of the group did not show, making it difficult to get work done.
It was not an easy task to guide twelve-college-students everyday for two weeks, but I am very proud to say that I did. This project for me was more than just a parade. It gave me an opportunity to do something I love and that is to be apart of something while directing it. It became my baby for a while. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I have a lot of time on my hands and it gave me something to do and worry about. I am not a shy person and I do not mind getting up in front of a crowd, so it only helped me better my performance skills. Also there is the education part of it. I learned so much about this whole other culture that believes in multiple Gods, just like my culture, Hinduism. I also learned many different dances that were done by the Orisha, my main focus being on Nana. I learned how do dance like a hunched over old lady racking leaves and it was quite enjoyable. Also I learned that not everyone is going to act like a team player, I learned that when taking the authoritative role, one will not be liked by all members for various reasons. I learned to just “suck it up” and do what needed to be done. Lastly, I learned about the topic of water conservation. I do admit that the broken water sprinklers were bothering me, but that was pretty much it. I never thought about half drunken water bottles or hosing down driveways. It is funny because as soon as I started working on this project, I became concerned about the amount of water I was wasting. When I now wash dishes, I do not let the water run. It is just one more way to Keep, keep, keep it up!
By: Depika Narewatt