What happens when two BITRs attend together? You get dueling reviews! The first is from Z, then keep scrolling to read I’s take. ENJOY!
I attended my first Fluid Movement show with my fellow BITR sister on a lovely Saturday evening in July. This was the perfect Fluid Movement show to “dip my toe in the water” because they are celebrating 20 years in Baltimore. Happy Birthday Fluid Movement!! So what is a water ballet? Basically it’s costumed swimmers doing synchronized movements in a pool to music. You know, a normal Saturday evening. According to the program for Fluid Movement: The Water Ballet each scene “reflect[ed] an element of our magic: technical skill, pure fun in the sun, somber beauty, scene-stealing youngsters, and that little dash of ‘what in the world was THAT?’ all wrapped up in a sparkly watery package.” Well Fluid Movement, you succeeded. I may be a newbie but I can clearly articulate that each scene was unique and highlighted the identity of this 20 year old performance art group. Let’s “jump in the deep end” shall we?
Scene 1: A Swimming Tentacular
Of all the scenes I have to say this one had the most technique integrated into the performance. Lots of pointed toes elevated out of the water, spot on synchronicity and long elegant arms.
Scene 2: Summer POOLoza: Tropic Like It’s Hot
This scene was a homage to summertime. It was probably my favorite because it was the most fun and outlandish with uptempo music and bright colors. There were a lot of people in this scene, maybe 30 or so? Special shout out to Lead Costume designer Regina “In Stitches” Shock for creating out of pool costumes that easily transformed to fun swim time attire. There was also a guitar playing giant Sun puppet. I’m not making that up.
Scene 3: Annabel Lee
Scene 3 was a nod to our favorite “in his feelings” poet Edgar Allen Poe and his love Annabel Lee. This scene showcased the dramatic side of Fluid movement and was a stark difference from Summer POOLoza. Who doesn’t enjoy swimming Poes, Annabels and evil angels?
Scene 4: For the Love of Esther
This scene was a throw back to the famous actress and swimmer Esther Williams. Kids of all ages were featured front and center and they showed off their swim skills and cuteness.
Scene 5: Allergies
In a “what the hell is that” moment, Scene 5 was all about allergies. You heard me right. Allergies. Almost every known allergen was manifested in a hodge-podge of costumes swimming around. And everyone’s least favorite was there too: Gluten!
Finale: FM20 Retrospective
The finale was a retrospective of all of the show over the last 20 years. Costumes from each show and signs with the show’s year were prominently displayed. Every swimmer ended up in the pool all at once by the end of the scene. I think it was 100 people in total. Where was the lifeguard?
Overall, The Water Ballet made excellent use of popular music that fit each scene perfectly and blended well with the simple in and out of pool choreography. Sure, the show was campy, cheesy and covered in glitter, but the swimmers were having so much fun performing that their energy was infectious. Also fun fact: Treading water is not easy. Stage Manager Brian”Sparkle” Rayburn gets an enthusiastic round of applause for managing the sheer number of people, props, costumes and sound cues. There were dozens of designers, cast, crew and swimmers in this pool extravaganza and I wish I could list them all. Thanks to producers April “Pool Noodle” Pink, Kelly “Unattended Toddler” Quinn and Barbara “For the Show” Wilgus for putting on an out of the box kind of show. What I loved the most about this show was its inclusiveness. People of all ages, gender identities, racial identities, and body types were represented. As long as you could swim and smile while wearing waterproof makeup you made the squad. The song at the end of best described the atmosphere of the performance:“You make us feel like swimming”. Keep swimming you crazy kids. Here’s to 20 more years of Fluid Movement.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? If you are a Fluid Movement groupie, I don’t need to tell you not to miss this 20th birthday bash. Are a newbie like I was? Venture outside your comfort zone, support Bmore arts and see something different this summer. Fluid Movement’s The Water Ballet was a labor of love, fun, kick ass music and inclusion. If you want to see proper form and technique set to stoggy classical music, then you can stay your ass at home. This show had heart and the team felt like a family. It made my heart grin a bit. And I’m usually the even- tempered Sister. –Z
And now for a second opinion:
#FM20 is what my program and sticker said as I attended Fluid Movement’s Water Ballet on Saturday night at Druid Hill Park Pool. I have to admit, this was my first time seeing this performance, despite the fact that they’ve been doing this since 1999. We took our sun hats, bug spray, and hustled down to see what this was all about.
It was packed! The line was crazy, and there was a tent of will call people. I thought for a moment we were at the Billy Joel concert! Once in the pool area, we quickly sought seats (and man is there a mad run for them! Watch yourself!), and waited patiently while skimming our programs.
The “pre-show” was a pleasant surprise- a local dive team showcasing some impressive and some more adorable moves from the board. Then Orsi & Wisniewski took the stage as the two characters tying all the clips together for a flashback style evening of water ballet. Oris plays a building inspector who has been called for an octopus on premise, which is against code. Wisniewski plays a representative from Fluid Movement who tries to waylay him, despite a large octopus appearing behind the curtains.
There are over 100 people listed in the program! The majority are swimmers, but there are others too, and it is a bit overwhelming. So, there is no way I can mention everyone in such a limited space! Scene 1: A Swimming Tentacular was a great way to start off the night! I was impressed from the beginning as 8 women took the “stage” and all body types were represented. And then, one woman did a full split pool side! Damn girl! These ladies took to the pool to a montage of songs like “Bittersweet Symphony” and more. They were the most synchronized of the evening and all were skilled at that graceful way of making treading water, while hitting all the moves, and keeping in time with seven other swimmers, look effortless.
Scene 2: Summer Pooloza: Tropic Like It’s Hot, was a crazy piece! It began on land with everyone dancing to “9 to 5” then revealing matching red swimwear to hit the pool. This one was insane only because I counted 28 swimmers in the pool! I teach High School by day, so getting 20+ people to do anything together is a feat that is worthy of recognition. The songs were pop and “fun” with puppets and dances on land as well as the swimmers in the pool.
The next scene is Annabel Lee, with the most elaborate costumes of the evening thus far. There was a Poe on land, then four Annabel & Poe couples in the water who were later besieged by angels (at least 8-10). There was an extra funny moment where it began with “Hello, darkness my old friend….” The make up was on point as well. I get raccoon eyes from mascara when I get in the pool, these swimmers had full faces of make up that was the most water-resistant thing I’ve ever seen. I found myself studying them for smears, drips, runs as they exited the pool, NONE. Sorcery!
Scene 4: For the Love of Esther was a cute tribute to the beginnings of water ballet with the Queen: Esther Williams! It also showcased the up and coming water ballet dancers- all these participants were adolescents and younger swimmers. Super cute!
Scene 5: Allergies was the oddest one. I realize these are a montage of previous water ballet topics, but other than colorful costumes, I didn’t get the idea behind this one. And there is a disclaimer about not making fun of allergies and differentiating between gluten and Celiac Disease. Strange all the way around.
The night ended with a fashion show, a glance back at some of the more elaborate costumes from the last twenty years of productions. At this point there must have been 40-50 people in the pool and it was crazy busy and loaded with bright colorful things to watch.
All in all, I am glad I got to see a water ballet! And on a personal note, I consider myself a pretty strong swimmer. So yesterday at the pool I tried to tread water while raising my legs and almost drowned. Hats off to all these swimmers that did it repeatedly and with a smile.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? This was definitely something new and different. Having never attended a water ballet before, I had no idea what to expect. It was odd, and fun and a bit whimsical (or as they put it, a bit of what the $#@*). Nice weather, nice evening, and something totally off the beaten path? Then go see this! And don’t ever say Baltimore isn’t unique… -I
Running Time: 50 mins no intermission. Check out the next show at Patterson Park Pool August 2-4.