Website on dance and climate change: Water canisters in the dried – up river bed point the way

The Berlin choreographer Christoph Winkler keeps breaking new ground. Now he has launched the interactive website environmental-dance.com to make climate change visible. In it, Winkler climate research connects. It started with a project during the pandemic when the artists couldn’t travel.

“We received Corona help and thought: How can we do projects in which we involve our colleagues?” says Winkler, who then initiated an online video competition. Theme: Best African Environmental Dance Video.

Garbage problems and deforestation are the most common

He had connections to Burkina Faso and Uganda through his dancer friends Ahmed Soura and Robert Ssempijja. The two spread the call through their channels. Ten first prizes of 250 euros were awarded. “Many have addressed the problem of waste and deforestation,” says Winkler. Numerous videos were shot with cellphones. The winners received additional money from a digital fund to improve the technical quality of the videos and hire a cameraman.

Because the online project was so well received, Winkler decided: We have to continue this! First, there was the question of how the videos would be presented. Winkler came up with the idea of ​​the globe. Although it was megalomaniac to think in global dimensions, the choreographer had contacts with the geographic institute of the University of Bern, to which the mLAB docked, in order to transfer climate research into artistic contexts. It edits data artistically to make it reach a larger audience.

The rise in temperature over the last 150 years can be called up

If you go to the website environmental-dance.com, you will see a rotating globe on which climate data can be displayed. They show how much global temperatures have risen over the past 150 years – and how they are projected to continue into the year 2100.

The simulations of temperature rise and precipitation levels were created by mLAB and financed with money from digital funding. External sources such as ArcGis were consulted for the CO2 emissions. The development of glaciers worldwide is currently in progress.

If you click on a certain region on the globe, you get to the dance videos. The cornerstone was formed by commissioned works from African countries. Videos from other countries in the Global South have also been added, including some from Europe. The videos were shot in different landscapes: in the jungle and in the steppe. In a video from Ethiopia, the dancers use canisters to mark the original course of water in a dried-up river bed.

The dancers look like sea creatures in their costumes

Other African dancers plow through garbage dumps with car tires or wrap their bodies in plastic bags. A video from the Philippines that shows dancers on the beach in bizarre costumes made of cut plastic bottles and looking like fantastic sea creatures seems downright surreal.

The third pillar of the project are the videos of traditional dances. According to Winkler, he wanted to show that many dances deal with nature, such as thanksgiving and rain dances. They are supplemented by interviews in which farmers, artists and climate activists report how climate change is becoming tangible for them.

More videos, interviews and new data are to follow

Winkler was able to use its worldwide network for this ambitious project. More videos, interviews and data will be added in the coming months. At the Dance Congress in Mainz in June, the choreographer will present the website as part of a lecture. Winkler pioneered environmental-dance.com. Now he hopes that other companies who can finance the videos themselves will take part. “The project has the potential to make a big statement on the dance scene.”

By Editor

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