E A R T H Part two: MAN IS BORN / by Eryc Taylor

ETD EARTH BLOG — Part 2


Last Monday was “Earth Day,” making last week “Earth Week,” but no single day, week or month is ever enough to address the health of our planet. Every day should be and is Earth Day, because the Earth is always with us, spinning on her axis, giving us sustenance and life all 365 days a year without fail or the need for a holiday to commemorate the gifts of her bounty.

However, the balance that has been sustained for more than 4.5 billion years has been under serious threat due to recent human actions - a mere blip on this planet’s history, but one that will ensure the worst if we don’t take daily action immediately to do our part for our home.

This sense of urgency was my impetus for ETD’s most ambitious undertaking to date — EARTH — an ongoing exploration of how we are harming our planet through global warming and other planetary dangers. EARTH is a collaborative project which involves five past recipients of the ETD New Choreographer Grant (NCG), two invited guest composers, ETD dancers and the audience who are an integral part of our continued process. The five workshop presentations through October 2019 begin with a “behind the scenes” video, and conclude with a question and answer session. The work of the five choreographers plus the opening and closing segments of EARTH, The Big Bang and Earth on Life Support, (which I will choreograph) will be shown at the EARTH world premiere following the project’s developmental period. At its heart, it’s a continuous community collaboration with a global reach.

Our first studio showing took place on March 29th, and featured new choreography by Robert Mark Burke with an original score by composer Daniel Tobias. Initially, as with any new production, I didn't know what to expect but was hoping for the best. I did feel the process was a bit overwhelming and rushed, because there were so many logistics to juggle in planning a year-long endeavor series building into a final production. I made it clear in working with Robert how essential the narrative component  would be in his piece — Earth is Created. But with my limited rehearsal and advisory time with the invited choreographers, I was just as surprised (and impressed) by the results onstage as was the audience. What Robert was able to do in that limited time (only 21 hours total), with mishaps like sudden dancer injuries and other disasters, is not only remarkable but commendable. The choices he made in the intimate stage setting with no sets or costumes were strong and clear. The visual impact for the evening was aided by my decision to work with NYC-based videographer David Kagan, who just returned from a glorious trip to Hawaii and offered what he captured of the Earth in all of her explosive and expressive glory — volcanos, oceans and lush jungles — demonstrating the majesty of what we must work to preserve. We also introduced a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Robert’s process and work with Daniel Tobias’ sweeping score. The house was packed to capacity and it was a success in all ways. The post performance Q&A was hosted by my Director of Operations, Michelle Cole, who utilized the “Liz Lerman Critical Response Technique” in the discussion, which was extremely engaging and effective. Some of the best responses came from children in the audience, who were completely mesmerized by what they experienced.

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The next workshop presentation, Man is Born, is choreographed by the  most recent recipient of the NCG, Jordan Ryder, whose piece in our 2018 NCG showcase was an audience favorite. I am eager to implement what we have learned and to be able to grow from the first edition of the series, to see Jordan’s creation and especially to continue the dialogue about our impact as citizens of this city, state, country and the world at large.  We hope our artistic efforts have a ripple effect and activate positive change now. The urgency to take multiple daily actions and do our part is more than a trend — it's our duty to ensure we have a healthy and harmonious home left for ourselves and future generations in the decades to come.

This vision for EARTH would not be possible without generous matching grant from ETD’s biggest advocate and supporter — The Marta Heflin Foundation —- and in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC).

My goal and desire is to educate, inform, challenge, and inspire people to make a difference. I sincerely believe that art has the power to change minds, and promote important ideas that ignite and elicit action. Not only will attendees of these workshop performances witness provocative works by dynamic new choreographers, but they’ll walk away with practical information on what they can do on a daily basis to curb environmental threats and reduce their damage to the planet. In addition, twenty percent of all proceeds will be donated to https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/.

If this is something you believe in, we need your help and support. Here are three ways to get involved and support EARTH:

  • Come to our workshop presentation showcasing the incomparable talents of NCG recipient Jordan Ryder on Friday, May 10th at Martha Graham Studio Theater on 55 Bethune Street, New York, NY 10014 and donate $25 (20% goes to Greenpeace USA). Tickets are extremely limited. Reservations are highly suggested; please RSVP www.ETD.nyc/earth as we do reach capacity. If you would like to commit to all five workshops in the EARTH Series — suggested donation is $250 for our VIP pass which includes reserved seating, program credit and a ticket to ETD's cocktail party gala event at the program’s finale. All donations to EARTH will be matched by a generous donation from The Marta Heflin Foundation.

  • Come to our workshop presentation showcasing the incomparable talents of NCG recipient Jordan Ryder on May 10th at Martha Graham Studio Theater on 55 Bethune Street, New York, NY 10014 and donate $25 (20% goes to Greenpeace USA). Reservations are highly suggested, please RSVP www.ETD.nyc/earth as we do reach capacity. If you want to commit to all five in the EARTH Series — suggested donation is $100. To take it a step further — VIP tickets are $150 for the Five EARTH Studio Series and offer reserved seating and program credit.

  • If you can find it in your heart (and in your pocketbook) to take your belief in the worthiness of the work being done here, I challenge you to join our other esteemed supporters and help us reach that matching grant from The Marta Heflin Foundation to ensure such meaningful work continues to thrive. Of course our patrons will also be recognized by seating privileges and donor credit. Donations to ETD can be made here: www.ETD.nyc/donate

  • You don’t have to wait until May 10th or Earth Day or Earth Week to make a difference. Even though we may try to do our best, for the most part, people tend to get stuck in their own worlds and forget the small, simple habits that add up to a lot of good. Here are a few links you can explore, share, post and repost now to raise consciousness towards international awareness, action-taking and help heal our world:

  • https://www.energysage.com/energy-efficiency/101/ways-to-save-energy/

  • https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-you-can-stop-global-warming

  • https://www1.nyc.gov/site/greenyc/index.page

I look forward to seeing you May 10th at 8pm at Martha Graham Studio Theater on 55 Bethune Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10014 for Jordan Ryder's Man in Born, choreographed to  Salomon Lerner’s commissioned score. Bring your open minds and hearts, and come equipped to share your insights on the small daily tasks we can all do make an immediate difference in protecting and preserving our most important asset — our EARTH.

-Eryc Taylor

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Photo Credit: Shannel Resto