Embodying Climate Change: A presentation from ODC/Dance

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“Dance, because it is human beings on stage, can help us embody the meaning of climate change.”

KT Nelson

Join us for a midday break as we explore how to manifest the impact and causes of climate change through dance. In an intimate studio setting, the session will culminate with the ODC/Dance performance Dead Reckoning, a work that touches on the human role in the transformation of the natural world. KT Nelson’s 30-minute work (which is being performed across the country) takes on the issue of public apathy about climate change.

Socially motivated narratives characterize ODC’s choreography over decades of the company’s history with works like News of the World (2018), boulders and bones (2014), Waving Not Drowning (2010), A Pleasant Looking Woman in Sensible Clothes (2007), On a Train Headed South (2006), and Time Remaining (2005). These works remind us to pay attention to the troubling issues of our time and our mitigating or complicit roles in their propagation. They reveal the power of larger cultural and societal phenomena and the challenge of individual action.

The performance will be followed by an interactive discussion about persuasive modes of communication and the need for imaginative and unorthodox approaches for reaching the public.

Download Performance Program Here


About the Works

Dead Reckoning, by KT Nelson, to be performed live, looks at our instinctive connection to the natural world. The work explores how humans are moving blindly and mindlessly through the environment, all the while transforming their home planet into what often feels like a foreign place, and how our small behaviors accumulate to dire ends.

Short excerpts of two or three ODC works that pertain specifically to climate change will be screened prior to the performance beginning with Brenda Way’s On a Train Heading South (2006). Under six large blocks of ice which melt over the course of the work, the main protagonist, a Cassandra figure, dances in opposition to the nine other dancers in a series of episodes that invoke political and historical moments of indifference, narcissism or blindness. Recurring parallel bourées (a series of tiny steps on almost straight legs that make the dancer appear to glide) suggest the dancers are literally “tiptoeing” around the climate issue as the water underfoot rises. Cassandra’s warnings go unheeded.

Uncertain Weather (excerpt) by ODC School Director, Kimi Okada, follows 3 young people and a live dog on a seamless journey through unpredictable weather – rainstorms and squalls, earthquakes, heat waves, and fog–  the volatility, a consequence of climate change, human behavior a contributor.

A short segment of Unintended Consequences - A Meditation by Brenda Way may also be included. This co-commission for the Equal Justice Society was set to music by Laurie Anderson. It is a work that concerns itself with civic demise linked to prosperity, tunnel vision, and war. In this ironic and even humorous piece, a ferocious "every man for himself" attitude prevails, and it has come to exactly that in the first and second decade of the new century, according to Way. Disaster comes about little by little as we fail to pay attention.

All ticket sales are final. Performances, dancers, and guest artists subject to change.