The audience will sit on the lawn at The Peninsula Park, facing the Amphitheater, at Gantry Plaza Park, in Long Island City
Date and Time
June 20, 2015 at 4pm to 5pm
East River, NYC
Vincent Yong, Eli Marcos Furones
History of Site and Related Water Issues
Not even 100 years ago, the area where we are dancing was filled with commerce: it was the edge of a new long Island Railroad facility, where tugboats moved car floats, loaded with freight, across the East River, to and from Manhattan (Island) and Queens (Long Island). Hundreds of barges, tugs, scows and tankers, filled the river and the shores. There were no planes or large heavy trucks to move goods.
“As a car float, a barge equipped with railroad track, would approach the shore, and be winched into a transfer bridge. Machinery would raise and lower the decks of the transfer bridge to the car float. ” Then a train would back onto the bridge and pull the cars from the float, into the freight yard. this machinery was called gantries.
This method of moving goods was finished by the 1970s. This area was rebuilt into a State Park and opened to the public in 1998.
With all the industry and commerce and freight transfers taking place in this area, the River became a place of refuse, rather than a refuge. It is slowly but surely coming back to life. Today, cormorants, ducks, geese, swifts and more, nest, dive, and swim in these waters. The Park boasts 2 piers, one especially for fishing, directly south of where we are dancing. The local fish include striped bass, blackfish, flounder, fluke, porgies,black sea bass and bluefish. there is a struggle here but the balance of nature is winning out.
Today, another problem is becoming evident. The problem, is CSOs, or Combined Sewage Overflow. This is the discharge from a combined sewer system – (the kind we have in most of Manhattan and the 5 boroughs) that is caused by snowmelt or stormwater runoff, or just too much water entering the system. The Combined Sewer Systems collect storm water runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial sewage in the same pipe and bring it to treatment facilities. When the amount of this water exceeds the capacity of the sewer system, the excess water discharges directly into a local waterbody, in this case it’s the East River. This discharge is very toxic. One such site, where this discharge enters the East River, is here, also at Gantry Plaza State Park, just North of where we are dancing.
This is a site where history meets the future. where the birds and the fish find life and refuge. But this is a site where we are having a negative impact on the delicate environment, due to our negligent planning. This is a site where, with tweaking a system, man and nature can happily, securely co-exist and flourish. But attention must be paid and refinements must be made. This is a site of conflict and crisis, as well as beauty and abundance.
Music made by dancers and choreographers, plus recorded music.
Leading dancer: Mindy Levokove, who is a multimedia performance poet and teaching artist. Most recently she had her poetry published in November’s First Literary Review-East and in the NYC Writing Project’s, online publication, Voices. She dances for water with Global Water Dances and sings for peace, with Peace December. She recently appeared on Bronxnet, NYC, in their Music Marathon -12/12 Peace December Event.
This is the third time that Mindy has been a site coordinator with Global Water Dances. The first time, she and her group danced at The East River Park Dance Oval, just north of the Williamsburg Bridge, in Manhattan. The next time, some months after Hurricane Sandy, they danced on the patio of The Dome, a temporary Community Center, on Shorefront Parkway and 94th Street, by the ocean, in Rockaway Park, Queens. This last time, dancing at Gantry Plaza State Park, was a high point, however, performing with the talented, international crew and with the spectacular cityscape backdrop.
Currently, Mindy studies dance with Tamar Rogoff, who specializes in opening the body, as an ongoing, internal discovery and exploration. Also, she studies Health Qigong with Sifu Ming Tsang. With Sifu Ming, Mindy has participated in several group Health Qigong demonstrations: in Citi Field Stadium, in Corona Park, at Street Fairs and Buddhist Benefit Dinners in New York City banquet halls, and YMCAs in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The form currently being studied is called Da Wu – The Big Dance; a form that is lyrical, gentle, powerful and intense.
I was born and raised in Rockaway, by the water, but I’ve also lived in Brooklyn, and for the last 30 plus years, in Manhattan. For me, finding a site was a big part of this project. The first space I picked didn’t work out, but instead, the Regional Director of the Parks Department sent us to Gantry Plaza State Park. It was a gift!
I brought my husband, William Hohauser, a talented videographer, with a great eye, to look at the space. We walked, explored, took photos, danced, looked for restrooms and subways and found our spot. We were set to go!
Our space has a great feeling of activity and energy: history, commerce, wild life, marine life – all there at Gantry Plaza State Park. We chose a place that the architects had called The Amphitheater. Our spot was by the water, in a cul de sac, with a gently rising, grassy area, at the edge of the performance area, perfect for audience seating, picnic style. This grassy area is edged by a stand of trees, to the right and more water to the left. Naturally, we fell in love with this place.
Our dancers were from all over: Evie Ivy joined us, again. Evie is apt and a bellydancer, who danced with us at our first Global Water Dance, at the East River Park Dance Oval, and again in Rockaway; Joan Guenther, also a belly dancer, who’s studied with Evie, joined us. She and Evie were dancing as Water, in Part 2. Nancy Zendora, who came at the end, danced, as the Night, in Part 2. Vincent Yong, visiting from Singapore, to teach and study, performed as The Bird. Natasha Alhadeff-Jones and her baby, Nathaniel, visiting here, from Switzerland, were Mother and Baby Fish. And Eli Marcos Furones, also visiting, to teach and study, here from Spain, danced the part of Garbage. Dr. Martha Eddy, one of the original founders of Global Water Dances, and currently the Northeast Regional Coordinator, danced with us, as well, and inspired us, with her insight, her energy and creativity.
In fact, we had so much talent and energy, and our dance was so beautiful and powerful, that, this time, by the end of Part 3, we brought the rain! This was a first for me and my group of Global Water Dancers! But hopefully, this won’t be the last time that our dancing moves the clouds!
We look forward to our next date, for our Global Water Dances!
Directions to the Site of Performance
Gantry Plaza State Park
4-09 47th Road
Long Island City, NY 11101
Phone: (718) 786-6385
By subway: Take the #7 train from NYC (42nd St.) to Vernon Avenue, the first stop in Queens. The G train will also stop nearby.
From Vernon Avenue: Walk west from Vernon Avenue, down to the water. The Amphitheater area, where we will perform, is the bottom part of The Peninsula Park, just north of the Central Entrance to the park, where the huge Gantries are.
How can I get involved?
Call or email Mindy, please!
Want to dance with us? Play music with us? Sing with us? Or, if you want to dance in the end, with the audience we will invite you to take an active role, in Part 4 – the Movement Choir!
Or do you have a local water issue you’d like us to know about and share? We’d love to meet you and hear about it!
Or, if you like, and you are in the Long Island City area, please help by handing out flyers, in and around the Gantry Plaza area! If you have any other ideas for promotion, we’d love to talk with you and hear your ideas! Thanks!
Other resources and links:
This group gives walking tours and lectures about NYC’s water system.
this is a consortium of more than 600 other groups, working together to protect the New York and New Jersey waterfronts.
The MoS Collective is a collective of consultants and artists working toward clean water, air and soil.