Josie Metal-Corbin

Profile By: Erin Arellano

Part Six The National Water Dance Project

The National Water Dance Project was a national initiative. People across the nation were asked to demonstrate the fragility of water as a natural resource. At the time, Nebraska was going through a drought, so the project was named “Drought.” It was one of the landmark productions of Metal-Corbin’s career, because she worked with the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Department to secure access to one of our city’s landmarks, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge as the site for UNO’s contribution to the project.

Rehearsals took place in the Dance Lab, the hallways of the School of HPER, and on the UNO track. They practiced in sun, wind, and rain which made it physically challenging beyond the choreography itself. The performance occurred in January, something Metal-Corbin had to remind the national organizers because her performers were standing on a bridge, watching a live-stream of people on sunny beaches in California and Florida. She told them, “We are sitting here and it’s 36 degrees. Can we go?” (Metal-Corbin. 26 Apr. 2017)?

There were a lot of people involved locally. In addition to UNO dance students and The Moving Company, there was a guest choreographer, Jeff Curtis from the University of Washington. The Omaha Academy of Ballet, Adair Dance Academy, and South High School were invited. The UNO Department of Music provided original compositions by musicians from Ensemble 768, under the direction of Dr. Christine Beard. Dancers had GoPro cameras mounted on their foreheads. The performance included everything from cello, to big percussion, to brass and woodwinds. The unique part of the performance was that several musicians moved with the dancers and others were positioned at various intervals on the bridge. All performers moved in unison, spanning the 3000 foot length that crosses the Nebraska/Iowa border above the Missouri River. Metal-Corbin says, “To me, one of the components, making it one of the landmark works that I’ve done is that we were really intermingling with pedestrians, and bicyclists, homeless people, and dogs – whoever happened to be on the bridge. That called for some improvisation by the dancers” (Metal-Corbin. 26 Apr. 2017).


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Part 7 The Glacier Creek Prairie Project

The Glacier Creek Prairie Project started with an unusual request, which Metal-Corbin couldn’t resist: “There was only one time during all of those decades when someone came to me, this very enthusiastic environmentalist, Barbi Hayes, and said, ‘We are inaugurating a prairie up north, and I would like these dancers.’ She envisioned them as waving blades of grass. She invited me without me being behind the scenes as I usually was. It was such a moment when someone else envisioned dance and invited me” (Metal-Corbin. 26 Apr. 2017). The Glacier Creek Prairie Project is a collaboration with the Rivertown String Band, the NU Foundation, and the UNO Biology and Music departments. “The stage was a tall grass prairie. Some of the grass had fallen over. The surface was spongy, not solid. The dancers didn’t know where they would land, and