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Bella Gaia shares the beauty of Earth from an astronaut’s perspective

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October 18, 2011

Kenji Williams
Kenji Williams

View Earth through the eyes of astronauts during Bella Gaia (Beautiful Earth), a one-of-a-kind theater experience that pairs NASA imagery with live world music.

The CSB/SJU Fine Arts Series presents Bella Gaia at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, in the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, Saint John's University.    

Described as a "living atlas," Bella Gaia is a profound multimedia journey of our world that captures the beauty of planet Earth as seen through the eyes of astronauts. Created by award-winning director and classically trained violinist Kenji Williams in collaboration with NASA, Bella Gaia features live world music set against NASA images and data visualizations. Williams and a band of musicians will perform world music throughout the SJU performance.

Bella Gaia brings together the power of art, technology and space science to create visual displays of how humanity is affecting the planet - from fires in the Amazon basin to time-lapse images of the Arctic ice melt - and how each element affects the other.

Bella Gaia audiences travel from the distant reaches of space down to life as we know it on the planet. The performance examines specific regions of the world through music, photos and high definition film of sites such as Hindu temples, Shinto shrines and Egyptian pyramids. The performance at Saint John's will visit Japan, Egypt, India and New York.

Bella Gaia has been featured at top festivals such as the Smithsonian Folklore/NASA Festival, 13 NASA events, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, The Economist Magazine's "World in 2011" Conference and to sold-out shows at digital planetariums. Bella Gaia has delighted audiences from Europe to the United States to Japan, and has proven to engage a wide demographic from 3-year-olds to students to heads of government agencies.

"Bella Gaia is just beautiful. It really felt like I was back in space," said Piers Sellers, a NASA astronaut and spacewalker who flew aboard the space shuttles Atlantis and Discovery.

Tickets to Bella Gaia are $30, Senior $27, and Youth/Student $10. Contact the Box Office at 320-363-5777 or online at www.csbsju.edu/fine-arts.

Saint John's University will host two related activities in conjunction with the Bella Gaia performance. 

On Saturday, Nov 5, belly dance instructor Irina Akulenko will teach an American Tribal Belly Dance Workshop from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Helgeson Dance Studio at the College of Saint Benedict. Akulenko performs with Bella Gaia and will lead an introductory belly dance workshop that will include the cultural background of belly dancing and how it is evolving in today's world. This workshop is free and open to the public but pre-registration is required through the Box Office.

Bella Gaia creator and musician, Kenji Williams will lead a panel discussion, Multicultural Perceptions of Waste, on Saturday, Nov 5, 6-7: p.m. in the SJU Alumni Lounge. Through the multicultural lens, four panelists will discuss modern living, consumption and waste. Through images, discussions and a Q&A, the panel will examine how different cultural practices impact our Earth.