In the 1950s, the destination spot of Niagara Falls, N.Y., was also a hotbed of industry made of petrochemicals, paper, plastics, rubber, and abrasives. But while shiny-faced tourists strolled the promenade awaiting the next high-wire act, the locally owned Schoellkopf power plant was slowly sliding into the river. When it finally went, all the cheap power went with it. By the time a federal emergency was declared in Love Canal, a neighborhood that had been used as a dumping ground for chemical waste since the ’20s, the city was better known for crime, political corruption, unemployment, and police brutality than its Daredevil Museum. In Niagara Falling, the hometown history of video artist David Hodge becomes a jumping off point, and a warning. Battered by video images of the falls and the merciless swells of the Pacific Ocean, aerial dancers, under the direction of choreographer Jo Kreiter, struggle to reach a lifeboat hanging from the roof of the Renoir Hotel. Interviews conducted in the Tenderloin and nearby Sixth Street corridor infuse the musical score, created by award-winning composers Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi, with real-life stories. The dance, film, and narrative struggle between urban renewal and urban decay unfolds high above a busy intersection, where the down-and-out rub elbows with the well-heeled.
Sept. 26-29, 2012