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Making Dance Green

By Stacey Menchel Kussell, director of Renewal: A Film About Art and Ecology

Contemporary ballet and environmentalism are not topics that often go hand-in-hand. That is until you meet Israel’s Vertigo Dance Company. The dance group’s unique approach to ecological activism is the inspiration for my new film Renewal.

Dance is one of Israel’s most impressive art forms, and it engages people worldwide regardless of language. Renewal is an opportunity for new audiences to learn about a unique and powerful aspect of Israeli culture, and gain new perspectives on dance and environmentalism.

The documentary profiles Vertigo, a world-renowned Jerusalem-based dance company that builds an Eco-Arts village to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. The process of becoming green forces the dancers and their families to reconsider their art, their values, and their place in the Holy Land.

Renewal demonstrates creative ways to make art in a sustainable fashion, but many ask, how exactly can Vertigo make dance green? Well, here are four examples:

(1) Sustainable stagecraft

One of Vertigo’s famous pieces The Birth of Phoenix featured in the film is performed on a recyclable, portable stage space. This unique performance space redefines the concept of traditional theater with electric lights, and allows the company to bring their performances to communities in outdoor spaces across the globe.

(2) Sustainable rehearsal space

The company has created a rehearsal studio on the Eco-Arts village based on the tenets of permaculture design. They have refurbished abandoned chicken coops, and renovated them using natural clay, mud, and local recycled wood. The studios have huge windows bringing in natural light, allowing the company to create while being surrounded by nature.

(3) Sustainable living space

Life mimics art. Since building the Eco-Arts Village, the directors of the dance company and their families live onsite on the eco-arts village, and have integrated sustainable practices into their personal lives including composting, carpooling, gray water recycling, and permaculture gardening.

(4) Ecological education

The dance company performs choreography that raises awareness of global environmental issues creating platforms for dialogue and discussion. They offer classes on clay building and permaculture design for both adults and children.

The Vertigo Dance Company are artists trying to reduce their carbon footprint in any way that they can. They express their love for the earth in both the themes of their dances and the materials under their feet.

The film is a celebration of the earth, and exemplifies how the passion to live greener has touched people worldwide in very different walks of life.

Sounds interesting, right? Go check it out! Learn more about Renewal, see the trailer, and join my film campaign:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/renewal-a-film-about-art-and-ecology/x/1085614

Member since 2013
Stacey Menchel Kussell received her M.A. from New York University in European and Mediterranean History, and is a journalist who covers dance, Jewish history, and international affairs. Her work has appeared in The Forward, Dance Magazine, The Jerusalem Post, and Tablet Magazine. She is a filmmaker for The Dance Enthuasiast “Dance Up Close” web series and is a member of the Dance Films Association.
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