“Water brings the distant near, bits of sound – sighs, gurgles, sucks, almost voices — connecting you with some other place, some other time, an experience from far away or long ago.”   photographer Roni Horn, “Another Water”

Being at sea alters your sense of time.

Being on the sea,  you can feel, if not hear and respond,  the deep. The challenge in BELL 8 is to convey the experience of having a conversation unlike any you’ve had before.

Sasha Smith at Bell 8 at Waterfront Museum, Red Hook

20 years of bliss before the mast, as a 0-20 year old made me a full fledged space cadet, a happy airhead. Editing the film was a means to understand emotional rhythms, their physical manifestation, tempos, and to explore what triggers changes. Various neuroscientists, philosophers, biologists are doing research to decipher why proximity to water is so soothing. Just as a baby starts to coo when he/she is cradled, we all start to relax when we are in a vibrating train, or on a boat rising and falling. Certainly, I was hypnotized by the sea.

The goal is to still inspire the viewer to do nothing,  float,  and maybe fly.

Now the challenge is to choreograph a dance with BELL 8 footage to make the viewer relax and wonder, dream and let themselves move, be moved, shift their energy. With my current dancers Josh Equia and Ainesh Madan I feel I might discover something, playing on opposites – highs/lows, literally since the two are different heights (6’5″ and 5′ 4″).

While we think of water in terms of cleansing, swimming, Narcissus,  we have not returned the favor; we have been unconscionable terrorists, abusing the oceans through polluting, overfishing, overheating the planet. BELL 8 is an homage to the sea. Nature needs the love now. A sign of a dance to nature going viral would be that everyone stopped using straws, cleaned up their beach.

The Wake segment in BELL 8 is an acknowledgement of  our trespasses and efforts to nudge people to imagine a future when we will treat the ocean with respect.

Woven into this love song is a celebration of current efforts to heal the ocean – art made from the same plastic), sea goddesses designed to serve as artificial reefs, and efforts to manage kelp forests

With storms becoming the norm, we can imagine that Poseidon is getting his revenge.


Photo by Nan Melville. Crane Beach, Massachusetts