By: Kelsey George-Donnadieu
As we approach the end of the semester and reflect on another year of exciting opportunities offered to students and faculty, one project specifically comes to mind. On July 7, 2017, a beautiful day in the heart of Brockport, Associate Professor, Mariah Maloney, and costumer, Emma Scholl, presented a collaborative work with up and coming composer, Loren Loiacono and the Albany Symphony. Funded by a generous New York State Council on the Arts grant, Water Music, organized in partnership with The Albany Symphony, presented Brockport dance students, alumni, and faculty through the choreography of Mariah Maloney, Artistic Director of Mariah Maloney Dance.
Situated in a town of just over 8,000 residents, Brockport is more than a college town. Crossing through the center of Brockport, the Erie Canal picturesquely characterizes the town and flows a rich history. In celebration of the Erie Canal’s Bicentennial, Brockport was one of seven towns along the length of the canal chosen to present Water Music. Requested by Brockport Mayor, Margay Blackman, to curate this event, Jacquie Davis, Professor Emeritus, envisioned bringing Brockport Dance into the celebration. Maloney worked with eleven dancers representing The College at Brockport, consisting of undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, and faculty. The Albany Symphony’s community partners in Brockport include Mariah Maloney, Bill Hullfish, and the Golden Eagles String Band.
David Allen Miller, conductor of The Albany Symphony, envisioned Water Music as the Albany Symphony performing on a river barge docked along the canal. Brockport’s performance specifically realized Miller’s vision. The collaborative work, running 25 minutes, reflected the leisure and travel of the canal, the historic building of the canal, and three eccentric town residents. Loiacono, whose music was lauded by The New York Times as “plush, elusive” and “alluring”, composed the music simultaneously as Maloney engaged in her choreographic process. Maloney discusses the collaboration stating, “the thrill of the project is to be creating a project in real time with the composer and costumer. Loren and I met in New York several times where we engaged in rich conversations about the history of the canal and ideas about the project. I returned to the studio in New York City where I listened to new sections of Loren’s composition and built choreographic material while staying in dialogue with Loren and Emma, who was designing the costumes. I invited dancers located in the Brockport/Rochester area, as well as alumni located in New York City and Pittsburgh to be a part of the project. We created the premiere through a two-week rehearsal process located in the Rose L. Strasser Studio and canal side.” Water Music, Brockport was a success! It attracted over 500 people, including President and board members of the New York State Council on the Arts who traveled from New York City to attend. Culminating a reflection on the impact and quality of this project, Maloney was invited to speak about Water Music with David Allen Miller, the conductor of The Albany Symphony, at the World Canal Conference in September.
Through live video feed, features on the local news, and most importantly, the New York State Council on the Arts grant award, Water Music provided The Department of Dance at Brockport exposure by showcasing the talent of our students, alumni, and faculty. The Water Music project assists in furthering the department’s presence in the arts on a national level. Maloney shares, “composer, Loiacano, is an exciting up and coming artist – this collaboration reflects the level of excellence our department cultivates, develops, and demonstrates.” Brockport Dance continues to be a program of distinction, evident through the invitation and inspired realization of this exemplary project with the Albany Symphony and The New York State Council on the Arts.