on the nature of things

A dance for climate change | Day 231

How do you inspire people to care about climate change? As we all know, facts just don’t cut it. You can be aware of all the statistics, research, temperature trends, pollution levels and so forth, but it’s not enough to generate emotional engagement.

This is why acclaimed American choreographer Karole Armitage teamed up with Stanford University biology professor Paul Ehrlich to create a unique dance production at the American Museum of Natural History. It’s themed around climate change and its cultural context. For three nights in March, it was staged in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, with contemporary ballet dancers twirling around one of the museum treasures, a massive blue whale sculpture.

“The work was inspired by Dr. Ehrlich’s essay about the “culture gap”—the notion that 21st-century science has become so specialized that as individuals we no longer have a visceral understanding of the issues at stake.

Created specifically to be performed in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, On the Nature of Things was directly shaped by the hall’s exhibits as well as by conversations with Museum Curator Rob DeSalle. Dr. Ehrlich, a MacArthur Fellow and founder of The Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB), wrote an original text for the production and will perform as narrator for all three evenings.”

Listen to an excellent interview with Armitage and Ehrlich on the Public Radio International podcast Science Friday.

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