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Partnering with Schuylkill River for Philly dance performance [video]

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The performance comprises a series of seven dances taking place on, around, and above the river. An audience of 200 will be moving in a rag-tag flotilla of 65 boats, including kayaks, canoes, dragon boats, and a large pontoon on which a band – electronic duo – will perform a live score.

The Schuylkill River seemed to shimmer beyond the reach of Alie Vidich.

She’s loved boating all her life, but paddling and rowing on the storied river had looked like something just for people with connections to the clubs on Boathouse Row.

“You can do this in Philadelphia, too. But only certain people do it,” said Vidich, who started choreographing the Schuylkill River into her dances five years ago. “It’s about sharing something I’m passionate about with other people.”

Vidich has a vision of a multiday, river-oriented arts festival with many participating artists. Toward that end, she will stage the second annual Invisible River performance Saturday and Sunday. So far, her dance company is the only participant. (The first Invisible River, in 2013, was hampered by an eleventh-hour snafu involving city permits.)

The performance comprises a series of seven dances taking place on, around, and above the river. An audience of 200 will be moving in a rag-tag flotilla of 65 boats, including kayaks, canoes, dragon boats, and a large pontoon on which a band – electronic duo – will perform a live score. The 90-minute performance will take audience members (some propelled by their own upper-body strength) through a 2.5-mile course along Kelly Drive.

“I really wanted the audience to have the experience on the river – this awakening of the senses, going through this performance and seeing the geographical points on the river,” said Vidich.

Thirty performers will participate in the seven events in the program. The high point of the dance will be a midair pas de deux. A pair of dancers will be suspended from the underside of the Strawberry Mansion Bridge by ropes and harnesses, skimming the surface of the water and hovering just inches above it.

“It’s a lot about using each other’s weight, and allowing the swing to take you through the movement,” said Vidich, who will be one of those dancers dangling in a harness.

Vidich has choreographed the aerial dance in a way that she and her partner will occasionally get wet. She wanted the action to remain close to the river itself, to draw the audience’s focus to the water. Hers is an environmental agenda, calling for better stewardship of the waterway.

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