Environment and Dance – National Water Dance

by Brianna Pilkinton

(Dancers in rehearsal for Trolley Dances 2019)

I have had the pleasure of dancing for Lara Segura for several years now. Her work has often married up the art of movement with social and environmental issues. She’s deeply inspired by nature and often creates outdoor, site-specific work. Right now, I’m in the midst of performing in another of Lara’s site-specific works for San Diego Dance Theater’s annual Trolley Dances. This experience has been such a pleasure. I’ve nurtured my passions for environmental science along with dance.

We are dancing along a restored riparian corridor which is connected to a highly impacted regional watershed. The creekside trail was developed through a concerted effort by many community groups to restore natural habitat, improve water quality, connect people to transit centers, and encourage healthy active transit (like biking and walking). Simply stated, this space was restored to improve environmental, economic, and social well-being.

The dance piece includes a spoken word poem created by the dancers about various natural elements in the space. I’ve received feedback from several audience members expressing appreciation for the connection between the physical and natural elements of the space, and the dancers.

I believe that dance has the potential to educate the public on matters of environmental concern. When someone feels curious or emotionally connected to a piece of art, whether it’s visual or performance art, that connection invites action. We are also reflecting issues that matter to the public. During the rehearsal process we’ve observed the intersection of homelessness and habitat. Litter, broken bottles, old clothing, and human waste are plaguing the creekside trail and adjacent habitat. Pollution, homelessness, habitat loss, community rejuvenation…all of these issues are hot topics in San Diego County. Through this piece, we are all participating in a collective awareness that inspires action and further education.

Brianna Pilkinton- is a professional environmental scientist and dancer/choreographer from San Diego and has been recognized as one of California’s top young professionals by Engineering News Record (ENR) and San Diego Metro’s Top 40 under 40. She is equally passionate about dance, environment, and advancing women in STEM fields. https://www.pivotandpulse.com/

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