A film by Wayne Ewing
“Dancing in the Water” follows Matt Moseley as he becomes the first person to swim 25 miles non-stop across Lake Pontchartrain to publicize the cleanup of New Orleans’ favorite fishery/playground and the work of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. Matt swims Mardi Gras-style accompanied by musicians and a boat full of art and colorful characters under a full moon.
The swim is not without risks: alligators inhabit Lake Pontchartrain along with bull sharks. There is also fatigue, dehydration, and weather among other hazards. Choppy seas almost end Matt’s world record swim as a planned 10 to 12 hour trek becomes 15 hours. After a magical moonset and sunrise, the brutal southern sun finally takes its toll on swimmer.
But the music keeps him going.
Composer David Amram whose work has long been associated with the “Beats” such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg as well as major motion pictures like “Splendor in the Grass” and “The Manchurian Candidate” improvises throughout the long night on the keyboard and various flutes. At dawn he is joined by legendary New Orleans blues man Papa Mali and conga player Uganda Roberts to create a virtual Woodstock on the Water.
Along the way, we learn what it takes to restore this beautiful body of water that was once polluted and closed to swimmers. Scientists and experts on coastal erosion from the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation take us behind the levees to show firsthand how, when left alone in the right way, nature can heal itself.
As the public’s independent voice, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is dedicated to restoring and preserving the water quality and habitats of the entire Lake Pontchartrain Basin.
At its core the first ever swim across Lake Pontchartrain was a performance art project that only existed for fifteen hours, except on film, where it lives forever as “Dancing in the Water”which debuted on April 29, 2015 in New Orleans.
We are the water. It runs through us. It is our culture and our connection. And the water, in all its many forms, must be protected.
And so, one year ago, Matt dove in to tell this story with a series of three incredible open water journeys within 13 months – a grueling 25 mile swim across Lake Ponchartrain in New Orleans in 2014, a hazardous ocean crossing from the island of Culebra to Fajardo, Puerto Rico in May, and upcoming 50 mile swim down the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park this July.
And while Matt tackles each swim solo, he is hardly alone. He and his colorful support crew of musicians, artists and friends bring imagination and a strong sense of local culture to each leg of the adventure.