Northrop stage flooded for show

The stage was flooded with two tons of water for a dance celebrating Mexico.

Dancers practice behind closed curtains as stagehands cover the stage with two tons of water during the second intermission of Tania Pérez-Salas’ Waters of Forgetfulness Friday at Northrop Auditorium.

Joe Michaud-Scorza

Dancers practice behind closed curtains as stagehands cover the stage with two tons of water during the second intermission of Tania Pérez-Salas’ Waters of Forgetfulness Friday at Northrop Auditorium.

Laura Sievert

To prepare for the final dance performance at Northrop Auditorium on Friday, the stage crew brought out a black tarp and a hose. The black tarp was to fill a six-inch-tall wooden perimeter about the size of the stage, and the hose was to flood the stage with two tons of 120-degree water.

Waiting for the second intermission to end, six dancers stretched and practiced in the water, drenching themselves before the curtain opened.

For 20 minutes, the dancers whipped their soaked hair and bodies across the stage, performing the world-famous dance “Waters of Forgetfulness,” choreographed by Tania Pérez-Salas of Mexico City.

Pérez-Salas designed the dance to show off the beauty of water, calling it a “neglected element.”

“I didnâÄôt really see that element until I did that piece,” she said.

The Tania Pérez-Salas Compañia de Danza has performed this dance in seven countries since 1998. Dancers fight for a part in this piece, Pérez-Salas said.

This performance was part of Mexico 2010 Celebration, a commemoration of the bicentennial of MexicoâÄôs independence from Spain and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution.

Northrop and the Institute for Advanced Study collaborated with the Mexican consulate in St. Paul to celebrate this event, also kicking off NorthropâÄôs 2010-11 season.

“[The consulate] wanted a contemporary portrait of Mexico,” Ben Johnson, Northrop director, said. He called Pérez-SalasâÄôs the best dance company in Mexico.

More than 1,000 Mexican migrant workers, Mexican-Americans and other Minneapolis Latinos attended the performance for free. Northrop provided transportation as well as admission with money from a grant it received from the Minnesota State Arts Board in conjunction with the University Office of Equity and Diversity.

Pérez-Salas started the company in 1994 and has performed throughout the world with the hope of “transforming the idea we have of Mexico âĦ and teaching another point of view” through her choreography.

Thursday at the Nolte Center for Continuing Education, Pérez-Salas talked about her work and her home in Mexico City. She said she tries to represent the contrasts within Mexico CityâÄôs population, architecture and culture in her choreography.

Pérez-Salas called the Mexico 2010 celebration “a good excuse” for her fifth U.S. tour.

For Rodolfo Gutierrez, the executive director of Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research and a Mexico City native, Pérez-Salas being at Northrop means something more.

“[Mexico 2010] is a really big celebration, but it also represents big changes in MexicansâÄô lives in the last 200 years,” he said.