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Mapping the Rio was a multi-disciplinary performance that, through dance, sound, poetry, spoken word, visual arts, and movement, honored and revived the presence of the Rio Grande in its present life and ancient history by reactivating it in our collective space-time.The performance was developed and composed in the realm of the Spring 2023 UTEP course Performance Studies, led by dance scholar and performance artist Melissa Melpignano with 25 undergraduate and graduate students-performers from Theatre and Dance, Creative Writing, Chicano Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies, and with the dramaturgical advice of Engineering professor Alex Mayer, director of the UTEP Center for Environmental Resource Management.

The sources of our research process included historical maps and paintings of the Rio Grande in the Paso del Norte region (stored in national, local, and digital archives), written materials (poems, memoirs, scholarly texts), and oral histories. But our main site of relationality with the Rio Grande was the body. Our bodies allowed us to connect to the ancestral and current presence of the river, and trace its transformations throughout time.

We thank the incredible guests that expanded our understanding of the Rio Grande: Andie Everett, Gris Muñoz, Rip Langford, and John Sproul. We thank the City of El Paso, in particular Rebecca Muñoz and Lucero Duran, for the logistical support and for including us in the City’s Earth Day Celebrations.



Paola Alvarado, Ana Berry, Nicolas Bowman, Katie Brown, Phoenix Dawn Brownlee, Aliah Candia, Briana Carranco, Daniella Cortinas, Lauren Crotte, Esmirna De La Cruz, Ailis De Luna, Keats Espinoza, Leena Fernandez, Gustavo Maass, Saul Martinez, Paola Martinez, Chandell Molinar, Sylvia Muñoz, Lesly Pantoja, Otis Pitts, Nathalia Margarita Prada Uribe, Hector Sanchez Perez, Nico Silva, Itzel Torres, Brianne Williams.




Direction and co-devising: Melissa Melpignano

Dramaturgical assistance: Alex Mayer

Production assistant: Isabelle Urquizo  

Video: Diego Davila

Photography: Samantha Nava

Special thanks: El Paso MCAD, in particular Rebecca Muñoz, Andrea Read, and Lucero Duran, and all the audience members that attended and participated.


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