iLAND: Where Art, Nature, and Dance Collide

iLAND dancers, photo by Bob Braine

Several years ago, I was seeking a meaningful way to integrate my interests in dance and environmental issues.  Both took up most of my free time, rarely intersecting and always competing for my attention.  Friends and family would joke that I could do interpretative dances about trees in order to convey my love for the environment.  As entertaining and humorous as that sounds, I knew I needed something else to satisfy my craving for environmental activism.  I accepted an offer from a non-profit environmental organization and adjusted to the fact that dance was going to take a back seat in my life.  For the first time in years, I didn’t have time to take a daily dance class.  I was disappointed that the treehugger in me beat the bunhead.

iLAND dancers, photo by Anja Hitzenberger

I recently learned about iLAND, the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance, and had an “a-ha!” moment. This dance research organization, founded by artistic director, choreographer, and performer Jennifer Monson, cultivates cross-disciplinary research among artists, environmentalists, scientists, urban designers and others in order “to illuminate our kinetic understanding of the world”. iLAND seems like a solid answer to my ongoing struggle to fuse my interests. One of iLAND’s past projects was BIRDBRAIN: A Navigational Dance Project, which followed the migratory pathways of birds and other animals while exploring their biophysical and metaphorical relationship to humans as world travelers and navigators. The project consisted of free, site-specific outdoor performances, workshops for students and the public, panel discussions on migration, navigation, and conservation, and a website that tracked the migrating birds and dancers participating in the project. Some other projects include Ridgewood Reservoir/iMAP, which investigates the landscape of the reservoir, and Urban Migrations, a seasonal project that activates urban landscapes through movement.

This past Saturday, Jennifer Monson presented Informance as part of Philadelphia Dance Projects 2009. The Dance Journal’s Kathleen Glynn wrote at length about the performance, stating, “[Monson’s] work is something meant to be shared and exposed in order to involve so many more in environmental issues.”

iLAND is currently accepting applications for their 2009 residency program, one of their many initiatives. And this March, they will be holding a symposium in New York City about connecting to the urban environment. Now that iLAND is on my radar, I’ll be posting more about them in the future, and am looking forward to following their fascinating work.

iLAND dancers, photo by Bob Braine

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4 Responses to iLAND: Where Art, Nature, and Dance Collide

  1. wideningthei says:

    nice post and great images. i fill split between dance and social activism, and am always trying to find ways to combine the two! thanks for sharing this.

  2. Pingback: iLAND Symposium: March 28, 2009 « Dancing Perfectly Free

  3. Leia Jones says:

    We live in an age where understanding the ecology of life is becoming more and more urgent. Art can be a form of communication. Dance in itself is a language. Exploring how dance can be a catalyst for connection. I am happy to see more and more dancers and artists using art as a communicator for issues. I am all about it.

  4. Evan says:

    Thank you for the lovely words, Leia. I encourage you to check out iLAND’s website: The iLAB residents will be announced soon and their projects will kick off in May. iLAND will be developing a blog with text, photos, and videos so that readers can follow the progress of each project.

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