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Aerial dance to benefit Altamaha
On nature
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At a lecture in Athens more than five years ago I was introduced to a beautiful woman with whom I had in common a river. Susan Majette Murphy was born in Jesup, just down the road from my home in Baxley, and had also grown up swimming, skiing and otherwise loving the Altamaha River.
I don't know how many artists that a place as small as Jesup produces, but Susan is one. She's a dancer. She grew up and went off to California and New York City to practice her art, and after years, returned to Georgia to teach in the dance department at the university.
Being an artist made Susan an adventurer and an explorer, and in California she began to experiment with aerial dance. If you haven't seen it, it's hard to imagine, but it's dance from a height, using trapezes and silks.
Then in 1999 Susan started a trapeze center in Athens, Canopy Studio. She began to teach classes and formed a repertory company.
Susan and I stayed in touch. Soon we had the idea to choreograph and perform a show that would benefit one of our favorite organizations, the Altamaha Riverkeeper. This group of people is dedicated to protecting the river and its tributaries. The watershed drains a quarter of the state and is among the largest systems pouring from the Atlantic Seaboard.
Now the show is on!
"Water Body" explores the sublime beauty of the earth's water while reflecting on the shadow side of humans, who change its courses and pollute it.
The show features dancers on a variety of equipment, including trapeze, silk, and even bungee harnesses. It is directed by Susan Murphy and Michelle Dodson, a graduate student in dramatic media at UGA who has supplied cutting-edge videography and photography. My long poem on water will be used in it.
The event will take place the last two weekends in April, at Canopy Studio in Athens. On April 18 and 19, as well as April 25 and 26, the show starts at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees on April 20 and 27 start at 5 p.m.
All proceeds from the April 19 performance will go to the Altamaha Riverkeeper.
This is the chance to see a show, created by Georgians out of love for a river, that will be like nothing you've seen before. For more information, visit

Ray is the author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood.

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