ICEBERGS: Glacial Drift

Original Performance on July 20, 2016


blue ICEBERGSNational Building Museum
Washington, DC


Cool Evening with ICEBERGS
Dance, Music, and Poetry in the Surreal Underwater-World of  


Glacial_Drift_Selects__dsc2030_55x35GLACIAL DRIFT was one of National Building Museum’s Block Party Late Nights that is part of its big summer installation programming for ICEBERGS designed by James Corner Field Operations (which also created New York’s High Line). ICEBERGS will take visitors underwater in a simulated glacial ice field.
Glacial_Drift_document name_002GLACIAL DRIFT, a site-responsive performance of music, dance, and text, offers a delightful, yet introspective time in a spectacular constructed environment of nature away from the real world. GLACIAL DRIFT explores the boundaries between the magnificent beauty and wonder of icebergs and the impact of humans on the environment.
July18_tech (9) (960x1280)In this multi-sensory experience, a landscape unfolds through the rigorous and intricate choreography of Maida Withers for nine Dance Construction Company dancers as they perform and move through the exhibition connecting with the audience.  GLACIAL DRIFT presents a range of emotions revealing the fun and audacity of dancers in colorful faux fur coats and sun glasses while exposing the more fragile aspects of nature. 
091A sonic architecture fills the immense space enveloping the ICEBERGS installation with live electronic music by John Driscoll, composer/sound artist, and Steve Hilmy, composer/musician, that embodies stillness and calm as well as the sound of calving of icebergs the size of Manhattan that crash and crumble into the sea.  Compelling text by poets, David McAleavey and poet/sonosphere, Alex Caldiero re-ignite our memory and perception of time and place. (Photo by Aimee Fullman)


_DSC3076Maida and the Company are known as pioneers for early explorations and ongoing innovations in creating dance in museums and architectural and environmental sites:
Lenin Museum (Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Art Angar Center for Contemporary Art (Solovky Island, Russia)
Museum of Art Moderna/UN Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)  International Contemporary Dance Conference and Performance Festival (Bytom, Poland)
Sands and Coral Dunes (New Mexico & Utah)
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Holy Rood Cemetery, Art Museum of the Americas; Corcoran Gallery of Art; Washington Project for the Arts; Smithsonian’s International Gallery, National Air and Space Museum, Renwick Gallery (Washington, DC), among others.
Photos by Shaun Schroth
Crowd and musician photos by Aimee Fullman; Aerial photo by Virginia Quesada; Blue sea photo by Denaise L. Seals.

Maida Withers
Steve Hilmy and John Driscoll
David McAleavey and Alex Caldiero
Maida Withers Dance Construction Company & Guest Artists

_DSC3262Felicia Avalos
Matthew Cumbie (GA)
Alicia Diaz (GA)
Anthony Gongora
Sammi Rosenfeld
Giselle Ruzany
Matthew Thornton (GA)
Eva Gustafson (intern)
Linda Ryan (intern)


Comments by Steve Hilmy, composer/musician:

“I’m using material – music and sound design – reworked, and Wagnerized,  from the second section of a piece I created and performed with Maida Withers from 2006-2012: FareWell – To The End of the World As We Know It OR Dancing Your Way to Paradise! We performed this work in New Delhi, India; Nairobi, Kenya; Zagreb, Croatia; Puebla, Mexico; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Las Vegas, Nevada. The second section of Farewell deals with the Arctic and Antarctic. Have we passed the tipping point of humanity’s ability to control our impact on climate change, ice retreating on both poles and the destruction of the earths climate. My music for Glacial Drift immerses the dancers in icy wind, crumbling icebergs – the big melt. The dreadful, tragic destruction our species has dealt to the earth is abstracted and dramatized in this 20 minute work.”

SAMPLE TEXT – David McAleavey
When it happens.  If it happens
What happens?
It really happens.
Shimmering fragments:
the bird soaring in the sky
hunts for what’s missing
These sheer stripped-down shapes,
these cliff-like mountains of ice,
orphans in space-time.
Ice cliffs must crumble
icebergs must vanish: you must
change your life.  Of course.
Vanishing, Vanishing
The tear that falls down –
falling down it embodies –
absorbs, is absorbed
Falling down / Falling down
Some things so hard, we
talk around them – so hard –

You can’t stare the sun down
In a world  where there’s no repetitions
and every action is performed only once, the first &  last time, what would life be like in such a world  In a world

wher     th r’s  n   r p t t  ns
 nd   v ry  ct  n  s p rf rm d  nly   nc,  th f rst
&      l st t m ,  wh t w uld l f   b  l k
July20 (20)

(No.33 from “languageACTS” by Alex Caldiero)


Opens July 2, through September 5
The National Building Museum offers a new, one-of-a-kind destination with ICEBERGS, designed by James Corner Field Operations. Representing a beautiful, underwater world of glacial ice spanning the Museum’s enormous Great Hall, the immersive installation features climbable bergs, “ice” chutes, caves and grottoes to explore, and much more. Start your visit at


ICEBERGS   (National Building Museum Web Page)
The installation is being built from re-usable construction materials, such as scaffolding and polycarbonate paneling, a material commonly used in building greenhouses. A “water line” suspended 20 feet high will bisect the vertical space, allowing panoramic views from high above the ocean surface and down below among the towering bergs. The tallest “bergy bit,” at 56 feet, will reach above the waterline to the third story balcony of the Museum. ICEBERGS will occupy a total area of 12,540 square feet. MichelleAva_FullSizeRender3

This summer visitors can ascend a viewing area inside the tallest berg, traverse an undersea bridge, relax among caves and grottos on the ocean floor, sample shaved-ice snacks, and participate in unique educational programming highlighting landscape architecture, design, and environmental topics.

Glaciers (43)

“ICEBERGS invokes the surreal underwater-world of glacial ice fields,” said James Corner, founder and director of James Corner Field Operations. “Such a world is both beautiful and ominous given our current epoch of climate change, ice-melt, and rising seas. The installation creates an ambient field of texture, movement, and interaction, as in an unfolding landscape of multiples, distinct from a static, single object.
James Corner Field Operations is an urban design, landscape architecture, and public realm practice based in New York City and known for projects such as New York’s High Line and Santa Monica’s Tongva Park. The firm was commissioned by the National Building Museum to create the temporary summer exhibit following last year’s popular BEACH installation, a playful structure that welcomed over 180,000 visitors during its two month run.
July20 (25)

The Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives. Through its exhibitions, educational programs, online content, and publications, the Museum has become a vital forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the world we build for ourselves. Public inquiries: 202.272.2448 or visit Connect with us on Twitter: @BuildingMuseum and Facebook.



IMG_1447ICEBERGS construction, in progress


Promo, teaser videos:; Teaser (02:21); Teaser Youtube  : *(02:21);  Promo (00:39):;

Artists and Collaborators
Concept, Artistic Director, Choreographer
Principal Dancers
Guest Dancers
Bottled Water Dancers
Costume Associate
Costume Design (Bottle Water Dresses)
Technical Production Assistant
DCCo Communications Director
Video Documentation
Video Documentation
Video Documentation
Video Editor
NBM _ Director of Public Programming
NBM_VP for Marketing & Communications
NBM_VP for Education
NBM_Media Specialist