Stories from the waterfront - The Buffalo News

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Stories from the waterfront

Development stretching from Canalside to the Outer Harbor is giving Buffalo’s waterfront a much-needed face-lift. And as interest in the historic waterfront ramps up, so are attempts by local artists to put their own creative spin on that fascinating story.

This summer, we’ve seen at least two historical plays about the area around the Commercial Slip, a series of dance performances meant to highlight the history of the canal and several other history-based performances and projects. This weekend will see the return of two productions on the subject, Anne Porter and Hugh Pratt’s “Clinton’s Ditch: The Story of the Building of the Erie Canal,” and David Butler’s multidisciplinary performance “Grain Dances, Steel Floats.”

“Clinton’s Ditch,” which first took place at Canalside in 2009, tells the story of “thousands of immigrants and farm workers taking up the tremendous task of digging a ditch 363 miles long” and “dramatizes their long journey through primitive forests, swamps, solid rock and the wilderness of New York. It runs at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday near the Commercial Slip at Canalside.

“Grain Dances, Steel Floats,” which debuted last year, tells a more expansive story of Buffalo’s history from the great fire of 1813 to the glory days of the city’s grain shipment industry. It features traditional theater, dance, digital projections and music and takes place on land and in boats docked at Mutual Riverfront Park at the southern end of Hamburg Street. The show opens at 8 p.m. today and runs through Sept. 6.

For more information on “Clinton’s Ditch,” call 861-4487 or visit For more information on “Grain Dances, Steel Floats,” call 868-3435.

– Colin Dabkowski

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