In the way that storytelling through movement has been a human tradition for millennia, this piece is a futuristic retrospection, a glimpse from the future into the past. A group telling a story with their movement of a time long ago – that once, there had been water there. The movers in this piece present from the point of view of those involved in what had been, each group with characteristic movement styles and origins that embody the mindsets of the time.
We have a group representing corporate interests, the idea that money outweighs any access to water, that shareholder profits take precedence above resource protection, and that risk/reward decisions can be acceptably based on massaged data.
We have a group representing the seductive ease and comfort of the status quo. Floating through life aware or perhaps unaware that pressing issues loom on the horizon, as the piece begins they have not yet been moved to make steps away from their norms or externally acknowledge need for change.
We also have a group simultaneously representing both natural elements unable to speak for themselves and those who speak for them, recognizing internal need, external value, and a state of shared existence.
For this piece we had the unique opportunity to collaborate with the drones out of the Environmental Studies department. The choreography was designed with a fourth group in the sky, with drones adding a visual representation personifying the existence of water as it ebbs and flows with the three groups.
The name, Yavehdoh, comes from a conglomeration of the phrase, “il y avait eu la l’eau,” French for “there had been water there.” Playing with the evolution of language over time, in this future where the storytelling takes place the phrase has condensed into a single word representative of the idea that once their ancestors had made a great oversight in their appreciation and management of a valued resource.
The process, awareness, and struggle for change and compromise in this piece, while inspired in water resources, could be equally applied to any resource: open space, endangered species, clean air, relationships, time, opportunity – any aspect with value left under or unappreciated until that moment of one past done, and the moment of realization that once there had been something there. Yavehdoh.
Brief synopses: the world is happy, nature is in balance, each of the three groups finds their uses met until everyone has a simultaneous need, then two of our groups depart in their own directions. There is no commonality in approach. A call is made for collaboration and the three groups slowly come together. Movements reminiscent of gentle swaying on a boat develop into trouble in the high seas as the parties involved storm through the internal turmoil of finding a shared path. A breaking point is reached, the groups separate into individual directions that build into three distinct phrases, three representations of the awkward reconciling efforts to find common ground while meeting the core values of each group. During this phase, the drones die, their lights go out. With the idea of water as a species, it has been spread too thin to survive.
Some have given up on compromise and return to the route repetition of their group norm. Some lament. One goes off in pursuit of an as yet unknown. The photo compilation during this time includes images from local and global environmental moments from the relatively recent past, nuclear incidents, oil spills, dam failures, and climate change among others, all contributing factors to the tale of Yavehdoh.
The piece doesn’t end with any sort of resolution or happy ending, only the open ended concept that some remnant of an asset previously lost has been found, and that a greater understanding of the implications of going “one past done” has hopefully been reached as they look to the future for change.-Lynn Schwaebe