Tuesday, May 17, 2016

To Combat the Fallout in Coldwater Creek, Victims and Neighbors Turn to Art — and Community

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Page 2 of 3


Audrey Simes is a newcomer to Florissant. She moved there about seven months ago. At the time, she didn’t know about the creek.  

“When I looked at the cancer cluster map, and I spotted where I live right at the heart of it, it made me think about the people I love that live there and that have lived there their whole lives and that have raised their children there and whose parents grew up there and spent their whole lives there,” Simes explains. So she’s decided to do something about her own — and others’ — lack of awareness.

Simes is one of several artists chosen as part of the Dance St. Louis Spring to Dance Festival’s young choreographers showcase. Over the past few months, she has worked with artistic collaborators and the Big Muddy Dance Company to tell a story that is both her own and others. It’s scheduled for a performance on Sunday, May 29 at UMSL’s Lee Theater.

click to enlarge This costume piece, inspired by Japanese folklore, is worn by a soloist. - KATELYN MAE PETRIN
  • Katelyn Mae Petrin
  • This costume piece, inspired by Japanese folklore, is worn by a soloist.
As a Japanese American, Simes has seen the consequences of nuclear warfare throughout her life. She had grandparents on both sides during World War II. Growing up in California made her acutely aware of that history.

“At a different time I would have been interned at the very place I graduated high school,” she notes. The ceremony occurred on a field that had been an internment camp.

Simes wants to show the legacy of World War II, beginning with the Manhattan Project and ending with its fallout in St. Louis via Coldwater Creek. She ties the piece together with scenes inspired by Japanese folk figures, the fallout in Japan, and the consequences of ignoring the sins of the past.
click to enlarge The costumes, designed by Simes and artist Basil Kincaid, combine natural and synthetic materials. - KATELYN MAE PETRIN
  • Katelyn Mae Petrin
  • The costumes, designed by Simes and artist Basil Kincaid, combine natural and synthetic materials.

“We’re really starting to see the true impact of [the Manhattan Project]. It’s immeasurable,” Simes explains. “It’s a different angle that we never thought of. What is this going to do to us from within?”

The piece is “about trying to find a way to heal.” She wants to show how people are coping and ask “where do we go from here?” For Simes, healing means not just physical recovery — cleaning radiation and rebuilding communities — but also unifying people who suffer from a common problem. The final scene’s soundtrack is laced with depositions and speeches given by Coldwater Creek residents, to give a sense of their struggle and perspective.

click to enlarge Big Muddy Dance Company rehearses Simes' pieces. - KATELYN MAE PETRIN
  • Katelyn Mae Petrin
  • Big Muddy Dance Company rehearses Simes' pieces.
Simes hopes that using the Spring to Dance Festival as a platform will bring the issue to a new audience that might not know much about it. She wants it to make them think ― and maybe even act.

“Nuclear warfare is still afflicting people, our own people, who we never intended to affect with these consequences,” Simes says. 

Next: Turning to prayer  and legal advocacy

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

© 2018 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation