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BREATHE: a multidisciplinary water opera

“Deep Practise” // Photo Credit: Virginie Sueres

Lawrence University’s Margaret Sunghe Paek, professor of dance and curator of Dance Series, will work with music director Loren Dempster and director/choreographer Gabriel Forestieri to bring to life BREATHE: a multidisciplinary water opera, inspired by the practice of dancing underwater. Forestieri and Dempster have been collaborators on various projects for over 20 years, and this one is no different.

“I wanted to see if I could make sound underwater,” Dempster says. “I experimented with microphones underwater, I bought a hydrophone, I [even] played the cello underwater.”

Dempster will be the only underwater musician in the entire opera as he will be in the shallow end, playing his cello while underwater microphones transmit the sounds above the surface. The performance will also include three professional musicians, five community dancers and 12 Lawrence students.

“It’s a big joy for it to be at Lawrence,” Paek says. The opera will include both Lawrence students who are part of the Conservatory of Music as well as students who are not. The opera will take place in the Lawrence Wellness Center Pool. Forestieri choreographed the opera, combining the practice of dance and free diving, called dancing in apnea, to create the water visuals.

“[I’m] taking cues from the space and the people in the space and how they relate to each other,” Forestieri says. “The choreography is a mix of [dancing] on deck, sometimes in the pool, partner dancing in the shallow end, and dancers floating with float belt.”

Forestieri will also be performing in the deep end of the pool, using a Go-Pro to livestream his underwater portion of the opera.

“I love this piece because it really feels like the audience has a role in the piece,” Paek says. “The audience’s experience has just as much validity as anyone else’s. They don’t swim, but they’re still involved.”

The water opera will take place at 8 p.m. March 30 and 31 in the Wellness Center Pool. Admission is free, but reservations are required by calling the Lawrence Box Office at 920-832-6749

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