FISH LADDER (working title)

Film in development - premiering August 2021

When I moved to Grand Rapids, I was amazed to learn that the name of the city comes from historically important rapids on the Grand River, which no longer exist due to several dams that were built in the 20th century. But, there are plans in the works to remove to restore the rapids in the coming years, allowing the river to flow and function more naturally and enhancing the opportunities for people to engage with the river. It’s a major and exciting undertaking for the city and the river. 


This dance film will explore the river as it is now and imagine what it could become. Water science and river dynamics inform the choreography, incorporating movement qualities of slowness, wideness, blockage, and submersion that characterize the current Grand River, and the quick, lively, free quality of the past and future river and its rapids. This movement seeks to embody these dynamics and help to send a message of how we can live with nature, building in a way that allows natural processes to unfold alongside thriving human communities. The film will also capture this place at this unique moment in time, just before the major restoration project.


The film's setting will be Fish Ladder Park and the Grand River. The Fish Ladder itself was designed by an artist in the 1970s to help migratory fish continue their journey upstream that was blocked by the dam; it also serves as a public gathering space by the river for fishing and recreation. There are many interesting aspects and levels of the structure that I will highlight by staging the dancers strategically and intentionally throughout it. I will also utilize the pathway along the river near the park.

My film will premiere at Atelier Dance Company's [Emanate] Nature event on August 7, online and in person.