Turbine Residency

From October 12-26, 2014, I worked with dancers & singers, researched the history of the Fairmount Water Works and met with Philadelphia experts. This was in preparation for TURBINE, a site-responsive performance co-commissioned by Leah Stein Dance Company and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia for the 200th anniversary of this historic site.

Planning Turbine


Round Table
  • Byron Au Yong, composer
  • Michelle Hollander, water resources engineer
  • Adam Levine, consultant, Philadelphia Water Department
  • Deenah Loeb, executive director, City Parks Association
  • Leah Stein, choreographer
  • Karen Young, executive director, Fairmount Water Works

Visual Culture Program at the Library Company of Philadelphia
  • illustrations & photographs of the Water Works
  • found article that talked about the necessary "din of industry"
  • noted how smokestacks and pastoral scenes co-existed in paintings

Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center
  • water treatment, hands-on displays, historic details, ecological action steps
  • quotes from Charles Dickens and Frances Trollope

Philadelphia Water Department (Philly H20)
  • interviewed author/historical consultant Adam Levine
  • learned about newspaper clippings & historic cartoons
  • received copies of sheet music inspired by the Water Works from the 1800s

Philadelphia Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • visit with Adam Levine and Leah Stein
  • gathered wood templates from the 1920s
  • saw incoming sewage area
  • received Imagining Philadelphia: Travelers' Views of the City from 1800 to the Present

River Boat Ride (Schuylkill Banks)
  • named Pennsylvania's 2014 River of the Year
  • Schuylkill feels more like a canal with concrete sides

  • Eiko: A Body in a Station at 30th Street Station
  • Kenny Endo, Kaoru Watanabe, Sō Percussion at Princeton

Guest Teaching & Site Visit
  • Science Leadership Academy
  • Sidney Hillman Apartments

The Water Works was the first urban public water supply system in the United States. From my visit, I realized that Philadelphia and Seattle are built between two waterways. Moreover, both cities protect and restore urban watersheds. It's great to know these cities advocate for clean water as a civic obligation and human right.