The Dance and Sustainability Project: Taking care of the earth

 What do sustainability and dancing have in common? You might say “not much,” however, the College of Fine and Performing Arts at Rider has a goal to change that. 

Throughout this semester, Rider Dances has been working closely with Artichoke Dance from New York City and Rider’s Office of Sustainability to present The Dance and Sustainability Project (DASP). This project hopes to shed light on the necessary environmental changes that must be made in order to sustain our planet for years to come. 

Every year, members of Rider Dances choose a theme for their annual mainstage event. This year, the theme chosen was Dance and Social Activism. DASP got its inspiration for this project partially from a talented dancer and choreographer based in New York City, Lynn Neuman. She has worked with her company, Artichoke Dance, who has based their dances on environmental issues, for the past 20 years. 

The Rider Dances team started on this project last fall and has joined the campus Eco-Reps at sustainability-based events such as the Rider woods clean-up, beach sweep and Campus Sustainability Day, in order to gain a better understanding of how to take care of the Earth. 

“I have learned so much about the environment and just how much work still needs to be done to better our homes,” said sophomore dance and filmmaking major, Victoria Grisanzio. “I have become hyper-aware of what I can personally do to help the planet.” 

One important part of this project that is unlike anything else Rider Dances has done before is the costume design. The costumes for this production are made from 100 percent recycled materials. 

“We are spending no money at all, so we have had to be very creative,” said costume designer and assistant professor, Robin Shane. 

These creative costumes include, not only repurposed jeans and dresses but also things such as pants made out of grocery bags and skirts made from trash bags.  

“By reusing materials, we are showing the audience that beautiful things can be made from repurposed articles of clothing, rather than buying new,” Shane said. 

Rider Dances does more than just recycle costumes. For the past several years, Rider Dances has not given out paper programs since they often end up in the trash. To substitute the paper programs, a PDF version of the programs can be 

found online on the Rider Dances webpage as well as on a Power Point projected at the beginning of the show and during intermission. The dance program also conserves paper by not handing out paper tickets but by using rocks instead. The same rocks have been used as tickets for the past ten years in order to reduce waste. 

The purpose of The Dance and Sustainability Project is to raise awareness that the earth is in crisis and needs everyone to step in and do their part to try and fix it. 

“We are doing so through the art form for which we know best, dance,” Grisanzio said. “Movement can express far more than words can, and each piece in this show reflects this.” 

The entire DASP team includes arts administration majors, dancers, choreographers, musicians, filmmakers, editors and set light and costume designers that have all done their part to help make this show have a lasting impact. 

“We need to all come together now and find solutions to the growing number of critical issues facing us,” said Director of Dance, Kim Chandler Vaccaro. “I am so proud of the entire team and their passion and commitment.”  

Rider Dances is performing The Dance and Sustainability Project on March 9 at 7:30 p.m. and March 10 at 2 p.m. in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater. 

Brianne Gallina 

Rider Eco-Rep

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