The Water Project 2021

A collaboratively conceived multi-media performance work which integrates dance, choral music, animation, and projected imagery premiered in October 2021. Since that time the water crisis, one critical element of global climate disruption, has only become worse with drought and wildfires across the western United States and a historically low Lake Mead as prime examples of the crisis.

We encourage you to read further about the goals of The Water Project, view the recently created documentary that highlights the insights of both the collaborative artistic team and the science advisors perspectives on this important work, and watch the entire performance.


The Water Project explores all things water: its sacred essence and beauty, its productive and destructive power, its essential life force, and humanity’s predilection to control and commodify water. Acknowledging water’s central role in human history, The Water Project incorporates landmark events both locally in the Santa Clara Valley watershed and around the world. In the midst of 2021 California drought this story could not be more relevant

The Water Project integrates dance, choral music, animation and projected imagery to investigate our personal and collective relationship to water. Most everyone has happy memories of playing in water, perhaps some have experienced water’s ferocity and many can remember a time of thirst, if only for a short time. Our life enhancing connection to water is at risk in the 21st century. What are we going to do? The Water Project, created by a collaboration of artists and scientists, affiliated with Santa Clara University, engages with the critical global conversation about water and climate disruption in general. The performances seek to renew a sense of awe and respect for water and activate action toward positive public water policy. The Water Project seeks to both celebrate and critique our relationship to water, which the storyteller notes, “It’s complicated.”

Initially conceived by choreographer David J. Popalisky, The Water Project includes five dances to original choral scores by Scot Hanna-Weir, performed by the San Francisco Bay Area Chamber Choir, that access texts as diverse as the Bible, the I-Ching, national news reports on floods and a 1921 technical report to the Santa Clara Valley Water Conservation Committee. Each dance and the intervening segments are illuminated by projected imagery by Derek Duarte and animations by Kathy Aoki that illuminate historical references like Aaron Burr’s failed water delivery Manhattan Company to more local stories in Felton, CA. Jeffrey Bracco has crafted the storyteller’s text that weaves through the performance. Jerald Enos and Barbara Murray have contributed set and costume designs.

Created with the support of Valley Water's Safe, Clean Water Program, SCU•Presents Arts for Social Justice, the Theatre and Dance Department, SCU’s Provost Office, Center for Arts and Humanities and the College of Arts and Sciences 


To view the program please visit:


Collaborative creative team: 

David J. Popalisky (choreography), 

Scot Hanna-Weir (choral music), 

Kathy Aoki (animations), 

Derek Duarte (light design and projections)

Jeffrey Bracco (text)

Barbara Murray (costumes)

Jerald Enos (set)  

Consulting Faculty:

Iris Stewart-Frey - Environmental Studies and Sciences

Ed Maurer - Civil Engineering

For more information:


View the Documentary:



View the Full Performance: