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From water ballet, to synchronized swimming as a sport, to splash mobs (a watery take on flash mobs) — the art of group-choreographed swim routines has transformed, and as of last summer, Richmond now boasts its own community-based water ballet team: The River City Magnolias.
Open to all ages and skill levels, this team works to create vintage-styled routines for performances around the city. The next one is tomorrow (Saturday, July 12), at 2 p.m., when the team will perform at Randolph Pool, located at 1401 Grayland Ave.
In June, the Magnolias held their first live public performance to kick off the opening of the Richmond Public Pools. The team practices twice a week and holds “Tuesdays with the Magnolias” events, where the public is welcome to join the group in the pool.
This weekend’s performance will go along with its vintage theme, as a “modern take on an older song,” according to Erin Reichhardt, one of the Magnolia swimmers.
All of the team’s performances are free, but donations are accepted. This summer, the group has also started taking donations of children’s’ goggles. “One of the things we thought was important for us to start doing is to give back to the public pools we use,” Reichhardt says. Each pair of goggles donated is given to a child at one of the pools where the team regularly swims.
“It’s kind of a small gesture, but we’ve had some really nice moments,” Reichhardt said. “There are always kids watching us — they’re attracted to the weird things we do in the pool, our swim caps and our nose clips — and it’s been fun to be able to give something back to them.”
The Magnolias also have hopes to give back to other communities in Richmond. This summer, one of their main goals is to hold a natural water performance somewhere in the James River, and then donate to the river system in some way. “Instead of just showing up and taking space, we want to participate in the community,” Reichhardt adds.
The group is now made up of 12 women, ranging from 19 to 60 years old. “It started out with just a few, because we felt like it was a good idea. First I wanted to do it because I thought the suits were really cute, and then we started learning some of the moves and it brought back some of the nostalgia of doing dance routines when we were kids,” Reichhardt says.“The biggest overall goal is for all of us to have fun and be comfortable in our bathing suits. Wearing bathing suits twice a week has been wonderful; it takes away the pressure of swimsuit season, because it’s always swimsuit season for us.”