About Relay

Relay of Voices is a four-month long expedition from the Headwaters to the Mouth of the Mississippi River. 

As a team of six artists, athletes and researchers move down the River each day, they will look closely at how people are moved by the River itself and how proximity to water-based natural resources shapes our way of life. Geographic data and cultural narratives will be gathered for future use by scientists, artists, and policy makers.

After a year of outreach and travel up and down the River, 104 towns and cities have been selected to participate in this event-based research effort, a project coordinated by non profit organization A House Unbuilt. Executive and Artistic Director Victoria Bradford calls this work “social choreography”—rooted in the ideas of community engagement, social practice, placemaking, and conceptual dance. 

Each individual community has offered up an overwhelming amount of support, with their in-kind contributions in the form of meals and lodging coming to an estimated $74,000. Their generosity and participation is the basis of Relay’s success. The connection in these communities goes well beyond a single day this summer and fall, having begun over a year ago and intending to foster continued dialogue after Relay is run.

These developments are the result of Relay working closely with 29 Convention and Visitors Bureaus, 19 Chambers of Commerce, 30 arts, culture and educational organizations, 45 city and county governments, as well as hundreds of individual volunteers local to each community to solidify programming for the July 9-November 5 expedition down the Mississippi River Trail. 

Bradford has also struck up partnerships with environmental coalition 1Mississippi and research institute Water Institute of the Gulf in an effort to further expand the scope of this interdisciplinary approach, bringing art and science together in expansive new ways. Partnerships reach over to the tourism and transportation communities as well, with A House Unbuilt officially working with the Mississippi River Parkway Commission to support outreach to the communities and marketing their stories broadly as the project communicates about the rootedness of life in this region. 

Relay of Voices is a project of A House Unbuilt, a 501c3 non profit corporation based in Chicago, IL and Lake Charles, LA. A House Unbuilt (AHU) uses movement and the body to engage and investigate the social fabric of rooted communities. Drawing on vocabulary from dance, sport, and everyday life, A House Unbuilt seeks to un-build the learned architecture of the body to reveal the insights and knowledge housed only there. 

A House Unbuilt has two fundamental goals.  The first is to operate as a movement laboratory to explore and effect incremental change in performers and audience alike. The second is to serve as an archive of public movement in past and future projects that can be openly accessed, explored and creatively utilized. A House Unbuilt aims to produce work resulting in a cumulative movement of community and culture.

A House Unbuilt defines dance as any action or instruction setting body and mind together at work. Whether in the form of running or gesturing, dancing is about the idea that making or doing is thinking. Our bodies as an immediate physical presence have the power to intervene in systems much larger than themselves and to bring the incomprehensible paradoxes of our times to a human scale. 


Learn more about A House Unbuilt at ahouseunbuilt.com.