Skip to main content
The official hub for news and stories from Colorado Mesa University
Fluidity. Beauty. Strength.

Summer performance brings together students, faculty and alumni

Fluidity, beauty, strength. These words capture the beauty of the Colorado River, which converges with the Gunnison River in Grand Junction. Colorado Mesa University students, faculty and alumni brought the power of the Colorado River to the stage in the performance “River of Angels” — which embodied the spirit of the river through dance, film, song and poetry.

Melding both the metaphorical and literal, 13 pieces were performed during the show which ran from Aug. 1-3 in the Mesa Experimental Theatre at CMU. Each of three nights sold out and profits for the production went to the nonprofit Forever Our Rivers Foundation.  

The production was driven by Rebecca Fleishman, a river enthusiast and alumna, who worked with Fruita filmmaker Cullen Purser to create the documentary I am the River, which was featured throughout the performance.

Fleishman’s goal was to educate people about the river and “spark something in their hearts, to care about the river and have a whole new perspective of how beautiful and vital they are.”

Fleishman had never made a film or help to coordinate a production like this before, so she turned to Mo LaMee, head of the theatre department, and other community members, to put together this ambitious performance.

“We started conversations well over a year ago,” LaMee said, “She had this idea. She talked to me early in the process and asked if I'd be interested in participating in some way.”

LaMee was a “river guide” in a way for the performance and narrated parts of the documentary I am the River. Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Jill Van Brussel sang, performed and designed costumes for “River of Angels.” She also narrated abstract parts of the film.

“She sent me some of the raw footage that they had shot. And it was really compelling and interesting,” Van Brussel recalled about the narration process, “and then I would kind of freeform riffs, some sort of response that they would record. It went through a huge evolution process.” 

Assistant Professor of Dance Amanda Benzin performed and Assistant Professor of Scenic Design Matthew Schlief designed lights and sound for the production

The performance demonstrated the path of the river from where it starts at the headwaters to where the rivers converge and go out to sea.

“I designed the whole show, the topics of each piece and attempted to educate the audience about rivers and different parts of the river and different river currents,” Fleishman said about her vision. I am the River has been selected for the Grand Junction Film Festival and will be shown during the festival at the Avalon theatre downtown on Oct. 6.


Written by Zoe Shanahan, CMU student