We are Water: Chap Go Meh by the river

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Aida Redza and her troupe held participants of a riverside Chap Goh Meh gathering in Penang spellbound as they performed a dance in tribute to nature’s gift of water. Anil Netto reports.

The mesmerising We are Water dance (top video) was performed at the Sungai Ara Linear Park, where the local community had organised a lively celebration and solidarity meal yesterday evening (video below).

This was the first time the dance – set to a poem (bottom), specially written by Yee Heng Yeh – was tested out.

Studio Pentas Adult Contemporary Dance has taken on this ARTivate Hope – Bridging the Gap project with the aim of developing the choreography.

The work will continue to take shape as the team moves through stages of exploration and contact with river or water sites in Penang during their try-outs, when they will continue their study of movement and exchange ideas with the communities they encounter along the sites.

Aida Redza (centre) and her troupe

Women of all ages will eventually perform the dance as an act to spiritually revive the life of our rivers as a representation of our own spirit, in the process reclaiming the importance of water in our lives.

The ARTivate Hope – Bridging the Gap project was initiated by Leadspire, Project Unscripted, Suaram and WindRiver Productions.

Another troupe, also featuring a multicultural cast, performed a zumba dance on both sides of the river (video below):

Segments of the community in Sungai Ara, where the dances were performed yesterday, have been campaigning against the proposed RM9bn six-lane Pan Island Link, which will run above the presently serene linear park, its broad pillars to be piled deep into the grass banks of the river. The river, the cleanest in Malaysia in 2015, may even have to be straightened or canalised for the project, critics claim.

READ MORE:  'From us, to you'

We are Water

by Yee Heng Yeh

We are water.
We transform houses into homes.
We carry civilisations on our bones.
But what carries us?

We are water.
We are asked to run from east to west,
day to night; running, running without rest;
to support, to cleanse, to heal;
to be swift, and steady; to yield.

We are water.
We need time to be still once more.
For our truth to not be muddled.
For our light to not be troubled.

We are water.

Even before we named the river,
the river is woven through the earth.
Even before we crossed the ocean,
the ocean has tasted the other land.
Even before we praised the rain,
the rain has sown its silver seeds.
There is no history without water,
but water is still water
without our histories.

The art of water is in yielding;
by yielding, it swallows;
by swallowing, it is bigger than anything.
It makes islands out of continents.

Water has nothing but three things:
gravity, time, and patience.
With these three things,
water goes where it wants to go.

We give to water what we do not need,
but we forget that we live with water.
We are always in its rhythm.
Each drop will return to us.
The weight of water sleeps within us.
We have forgotten that we are water.

When we vanish from this world,
water will take back what it has given.
With sweeping arms and careful fingers,
It will fold our civilisations
in a cold and endless embrace.
Water needs no human eye to watch it run.
It flows with or without a stone in its path.

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