They nicknamed it "the day," because it was nearly perfect.
The light across the valley and water was from a golden place and the four dancers bathed in it along the Colorado River.
A few beavers even swam over to flirt with the dancers, and people camping nearby set up chairs to watch and applaud.
"It was beautiful," described Rebecca Fleishman, who on "the day" exchanged her usual title of choreographer and dancer for that of film director.
Working with Fruita filmmaker Cullen Purser of Lithic Films, more than six hours of footage was captured from "the day" and other days over the past year to create the 10-minute documentary "I Am the River."
The film will be shown as part of performances titled "River of Angels" and billed as "a confluence of dance, film, live music and community celebrating the beauty and sustainability of our rivers."
Performances will be offered at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 1–3, in the Mesa Experimental Theatre (Black Box) in the Moss Performing Arts Center, 1231 N. 12th St., at Colorado Mesa University.
"I have an incredible connection with the river," said Fleishman, who organized "River of Angels."
Walks in nature and along the Colorado River are something she often has done when problem solving or when needing some peace. She and her husband are river runners and actually met in a river safety class. She and many others in the Grand Valley crisscross the Colorado River when going to and from work and activities each day.
The river inspired "River of Angels" and Fleishman is hopeful the performances will in turn "inspire and make a difference" as proceeds will be donated to the Forever Our River Foundation, which will then support local river-related nonprofits.
There are 13 pieces in "River of Angels," all depicting different aspects of rivers or water or the relationship between people and rivers.
Take currents, for example. "They are so metaphorical about emotions of life and personal experiences of life and relationships to other people," Fleishman said.
So currents' literal and metaphor movements will be explored in the dance piece "Currents of My Heart" choreographed by Fleishman and broken into three parts: "Eddy," "Still Water" and "Wave Train."
And the piece "Confluence," choreographed by Molly Shively, depicts the Crystal, Roaring Fork, Gunnison and Colorado rivers.
The confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado rivers is just south of downtown Grand Junction. "I don't know if many people know how special that is," Fleishman said.
Over the past year, Fleishman worked with many others in the community to create "River of Angels" as a blending of various aspects of the arts in addition to dance.
Mo LaMee, who heads up the theatre arts department at CMU, will narrate "River of Angels" and also is the narrator for the film by Fleishman and Purser.
Jill Van Brussel, who is an assistant professor of theater and costume design at CMU, is another "power house" in "River of Angels," Fleishman said.
Along with helping with costuming, Van Brussels will be heard in many of the spoken word pieces and as part of the a capella group Vocal Junction, which will sing "Down to the River to Pray."
Additional CMU faculty, both present and past, will be involved with "River of Angels" through choreography and dance, lighting and set design.
Dancers from CMU and the community are involved with "River of Angels" and range in age from mid-60s to 12 — "It's so refreshing to see lovely dancers at different ages," Fleishman said.
Some of those younger dancers will be part of the piece "Meet Me at the River," choreographed by Theresa Kahl from Absolute Dance Studio, and will depict teenagers on a picnic and having fun at the river.
"I'm trying to help the river for future generations, so I felt it was important to have a piece about kids," Fleishman said. "We've got to get our kids outside in nature."
Overall, Fleishman said she is hopeful "River of Angels" will motivate people to get out on the river and to take action to protect the river.
"I'm taking it from an approach to touching someone's heart to appreciate our river system," Fleishman said.