River guide book inspires ballet performance
Craig Belcher | 5/25/2023, 6 p.m.
Author John Bryan knew it was time to update his first book about the James River, a guide to enjoying “America’s best urban waterway,” published back in 1997. So he started working on an update a few years ago that takes into account the changes to the water, the city and the kinds of people who come to enjoy it. But he didn’t know the new book, “The James River in Richmond: Your New Guide to Enjoying America’s Best Urban Waterway,” would inspire a performance by the Latin Ballet of Virginia.
“No, it never crossed my mind,” said Mr. Bryan, who has been friends with the ballet company’s founder Ana Ines King for several years. “I haven’t seen the script. I’m confident that they’ll do a wonderful job. I’m as excited as anyone else.”
Ms. King said she learned about the book when Mr. Bryan asked her to help translate a section of the guide book that is in Spanish. Preparing the section led to developing the Latin Ballet’s “Aguas,” a free performance at Ancarrow’s Landing on June 3 at 4 p.m.
“Ours is a dance theater performance that celebrates the history, the cultures and the James River ... [the] commemoration of the end of the war and the freedom of African-American people,” Ms. King said.
The site of the performance, Ancarrow’s Landing, is named after entrepreneur and environmentalist Newtown Ancarrow, and is also part of the Richmond Slave Trail. Ancarrow owned a boat building company and relocated it there in the late 1950s. He was one of the first persons to advocate for the environmental health of the River.
“So it’s a nice place for a lot of historic reasons, a nice place because it’s lots of parking,” Mr. Bryan said. “It’s a nice place, because it has a big open area where they can perform.”
The free performance coincides with the philanthropic aspect of Mr. Bryan’s guide. He said more than 600 copies have been given to museums and other organizations “whose missions help all sorts of communities in Richmond.” All of the writers and photographers who contributed to the book weren’t paid for their efforts and all of the proceeds from sales will be donated.
“So, we’re very pleased that, not only are the contents of the book helping people with their understanding of the river and their enjoyment of the river, but the sales proceeds are helping nonprofits make people’s lives better,” Mr. Bryan said.
The James River in Richmond: Your New Guide to Enjoying America’s Best Urban Waterway,” is available at local bookstores and via jamesriverlovers.com, and at the June 3 performance of “Aguas.”