Large bowl into which participants poured vials of water they will brought from their homes around the country and world. Our gathering site was in front of Melrose Hall, University of the Redlands
Our gathering site was in front of Melrose Hall, University of the Redlands.
History of site and related water issues
Teachers and staff of the Aleph Kallah (aleph.org/kallah,) a bi-annual Jewish Renewal retreat, gathered on the University of the Redlands campus the weekend of the Global Water Dance to prepare for all the attendees who will be arriving for a week of study, prayer, music, gatherings, performances. June 25th, being a Saturday, was Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. At about the same time of the Global Water Dance (5 p.m.) came what is called Seudah Shlishit, a time to study the Torah portion for the next Shabbat. Synchronistically, the Torah portion (parshe) is Chukat, which focuses on an ancient water issue: finding water in the desert. The story goes that Miriam, the sister of Moses, miraculously finds water sources wherever the Hebrews travel in the desert. She dies. Without her, the people experience drought, the inability to locate, to bring forth, water. This is very serious. Water is essential to life!
God tells Moses to speak to a particular rock and that water will spurt forth from it. Instead Moses hits the rock. (Why does Moses do this?) Water does come from the rock – but for not listening and doing as he was told, Moses (like all the adults who had been slaves in Egypt) is not allowed to enter the Promised Land (and instead dies before that time – but that is another parshe).
And there we were, at The University of the Redlands, close to Los Angeles, a place where water is piped from great distances to what is essentially a desert.
The University of the Redlands, a “desert” style community, is very conscious of water use. All recently constructed buildings meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building standards. Some of the environmental performance indicators considered in LEED standards include erosion and sedimentation control, storm water management, water-efficient landscaping (100% of the water used to irrigate landscaping on campus is non-potable), storage and collection of recyclables, and recycled content.
The Redlands Cogeneration and Chiller Plant enables the University to produce a majority of its own energy, as well as heating and cooling for a third of the buildings on campus. The idea for an onsite cogeneration plant came several years ago during a state energy crisis. The system uses a 1,500-kW Caterpillar lean-burn natural gas engine, which has a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system to control emissions. Waste heat produced in the process is used to provide energy for a chiller, which then gives chilled water for the campus cooling loop. The waste heat is also used to help provide hot water for the heating loop.
So, although our focus was on the biblical text, we also focused on celebrating the conscious use of water on this campus, plus hearing about water issues people are experiencing where they live, both in the United States and other countries.
Joanie Levine, M.A., Dance Ethnology, UCLA, authentic movement practitioner, creative and multi-cultural dance educator, coordinates KidKallah, the onsite camp for children of parents attending Aleph Kallah. She is also co-coordinating the International Creative Dance Association’s annual Congress in Portland, Oregon (www.dancecreative.org) just the week before – and so spearheaded Portland, Oregon joining the Global Water Dance Project.
Ezra LeBank, M.F.A. is a playwright, actor, dancer, and teacher of physical theater and yoga. Ezra creates original physical theater plays for KidKallah and so was traveling to University of the Redlands for Aleph Kallah in June 2011.
We sang chants composed by Rabbi Shefa Gold (www.rabbishefagold.com) during Sections I & II:
- V’nahar yotzei me’Eden, l’hashkot et haGan A river comes forth from Eden to water the garden.
- Kosi r-vaya My cup overflows
- Ma Norah HaMakom HaZeh! How awesome is this place!
Plus Cantor Alula Tzaddik, (www.alulamusic.com) Ethiopian drummer and percussionist of Los Angeles provided live drumming.
Section I: Opening Ritual to honor water as an essential element, bring in issues people know about in their own communities as they add their small vial of water to the large bowl and to honor the University for its conservation efforts.
Dance: Mayim! (Water) and set stage for exploration of Parshe Chukat.
Section II: Movement and sound exploration of Parshe Chukat
Section III: We performed the choreographed Universal Dance
Section IV: Universal ending section, we invited all to participate.
Directions to Site Location
Melrose Hall, University of the Redlands 1200 East Colton Ave Redlands, CA, 92373