This weekend’s Invisible River festival celebrates the Schuylkill from the water, the banks, and mid-air.
In 2010, Alie Vidich’s first river-based performance took place at St. Peter’s Island in the Schuylkill. It consisted of 9 performers and 9 audience members who paddled around the island to watch the show.
This weekend Vidich, the Artistic Director of Invisible River, will lead a much bigger, more complex performance beneath the Strawberry Mansion bridge. The performance, and the river festival leading up to it, will be attended by hundreds along the banks of the river and in kayaks and dragon boats beneath the bridge. The celebration will also feature art and entertainment on the riverbank.
And in mid-air.
Beck Epoch, the grand finale on Friday and Saturday night, will be performed by three female dancers suspended from wires and harnesses from the bridge.
Vidich created the aerial performance as a “metaphor for the impossible.” She admits the first time she performed aerially beneath the bridge (at the first Invisible River show in 2013), it was a bit scary, “mostly because we had to jump” from the top deck, about 30 feet above the river.
Although this year’s performance has far more choreography, decoration, and colorful costumes, the message is still the same. “Most people don’t have a relationship with the river, we want to help make that possible.”
East Falls local Tatiana Hassan, who will be helping choreograph the performance for the second year, added that the dancers suspended from wires (as well as the billowing fabric banners running from the bridge to the river) are symbolic of the connection between the earth and sky and gets people thinking about how “everything flows together.”
This year’s celebration starts Saturday with Schuylkill Arts Day, which runs from 10AM until 2PM. The event begins with a drum-line procession from the Mander Recreation Center, led by dancers, drummers and singers from the African Diaspora Artist Collective, along the beautiful Boxer’s Trail to the main festival site on Kelly Drive.
Once at Kelly Drive, there will be a day of (free!) boating, performance art, science exhibits, music, fishing lessons, food and much more! Several vendors will be there, including Little Baby’s Ice Cream, which will unveil a new ice cream flavor they’ve created just for the event.
The Beck Epoch performance begins at 7:30 on Friday July, 15th and Saturday the 16th.
Attendance to the festival and performance are free, but to get a look up close at the aerial performance (and get some cool views of the river), book a boating ticket in advance (no tickets for on-the-water seating will be sold at the event).
To watch from the shore, simply show up along the river bank and view for free.
Check here for more information on the festival, viewing locations and a complete schedule of activities, events, and other fun stuff.
PS: EFL shout out to Tatiana, dancer and artist from Columbia! You may remember her from events last Fall at Conrad Street’s now-defunct art gallery. This performance will be Tatiana’s final project in the States until she can renew another work or student visa. We hate to lose such a fun, talented neighbor, but we know she’ll find success bringing art, dance, and joy wherever she goes.