The Rappahannock River is a defining feature of Fredericksburg. And performing artists throughout the city are bringing out their river-inspired works for a one-time performance in support of Friends of the Rappahannock.
“The River Within Us” has been orchestrated by Dance Matrix & Company, who has brought together dancers, singers, poets and other performers for Saturday’s event at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s downtown theater at 7:30 p.m.
“The river is one of my favorite things about Fredericksburg,” said DMC director Beverly Mendez. “Everyone at some time, goes to sit at the river and feel its calming presence.”
DMC has been a dance company since 1993, but in 2016 became a nonprofit to offer performing experiences to local artists of all genres, fundraising events and community outreach for organizations like FOR. She said when choosing an organization to benefit from this performance, she was blown away by the variety and amount of work FOR does in the community.
The event, which is being produced with support from the Fredericksburg Arts Commission, brings together 10 performers for an evening of art inspired and in support of the river.
DMC itself will present a dance work created for this event by Mendez, with lighting design by Mark Wright. The piece, “River,” depicts the dancers as the water, flowing, rolling, tumbling over rocks and branches.
“Using lighting and props, it represents the courage it takes to keep our river clean and full of life,” she said.
The event brings other dance troupes, as well. Avery Ballet will present two water-related pieces by advanced students. Royalty Dance Company will include an advanced-student dance piece in the event, as well.
The evening is not solely a dance production, though, according to Mendez. Micki O’Hearn, a local performance poet, will offer several of her new river-inspired works. And, Abbe Buck, a vaudevillian and singer of jazz standards, will perform with partner Bill Green. The Stafford High School Chorus, under the direction of Joe Eveler, will share works from their recent “Broadway Night” performance for audiences.
The PRISM Dancers, a family-friendly belly dance group, will also appear at the event. Hip-hop dance instructor Jordan Taylor will perform with THE TRIBE, both rounding out the evening with performances from different traditions.
In keeping with the river theme, Mendez said there will be special presentations from Katie Pomeroy from Friends of the Rappahannock and Heather Grey from the Patawomeck tribe of Virginia, describing the tribe’s relationship with the river.
Mendez said she hopes audiences have fun at the event and find something for everyone. She said they’re not preaching about river beautification but want the viewers to feel close to the water, in an inspirational way.
“It’s not just about funding the cause,” Mendez said. “It’s really about awareness, understanding the wide scope of what Friends of the Rappahannock do and how the river affects us all.”