For the EMBracing the Ocean residency, Emily has worked together with Yunne-Jai Shin (Senior Scientist at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, IRD) to develop new choreography 'Of roots and sea' with a group of 15 youth dancers from the Steps for Change dance company focused on mangroves as major socio-ecological systems for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation. The choreography is built on scientific knowledge of these important ecosystems, and in collaboration with additional scientific experts. 'Of roots and sea' plays with the high visual and scenic potential of mangroves. It sheds light on the diversity of life in mangrove roots and foliage, their nursery role, their importance for local and global food supply, their cultural and societal role for local communities. The dancers evolve at multiple interfaces – land-ocean, earth-sky, urban-natural areas - in an environment full of contrasts between the thickness of the sediment and the fluidity of the water, between rising and falling tides. The piece focuses on mangroves as major socio-ecological systems for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation and includes five scenes inspired by different aspects of mangove ecosystems (1) mangroves as a sea-land-air interface exposed to waves and tides, (2) respiration, (3) mangroves as fish nurseries, (4) mangrove crabs, and (5) anthropogenic pressures, conservation and restoration.
The show includes original music composed by Felix Labal-Secco, additional music by Hania Rani, video mapping by Edouard Granero, and scientific audio recordings of ambient sounds, mangrove bird songs and subaquatic recordings of crustaceans and fish from IRD scientists Frédéric Bertucci and Timothée Brochier.
University of the Earth performances
Rehersals began in summer 2022. On 4th June the dancers were joined by Christophe Proisy, a scientist and mangrove specialist at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD, France) during a special work session in which he presented a synthesis of current knowledge on mangroves and visual materials to the young dancers to inspire the choreography. You can watch a video of the rehersals here.
The impact report for Of Roots and Sea can be downloaded here.
The Steps for Change dance company was established in 2018 driven by the vision and collaboration between Emily and Yunne. The aim of the company is to create and present dance performances about the environment and biodiversity in close collaboration with scientists. This is to raise children’s awareness and understanding of environmental issues as early as possible. Additionally, children have strong emotional power and are thus potent messengers to adults. Emily and Yunne developed choreography ‘Steps for Change’, which focused on biodiversity and was performed by the dance company at the opening session of the 7th IPBES Plenary in 2019, and the 52nd session of the IPCC Plenary in 2020. The performances were a huge success among delegates, and also resulted in a short documentary film on the creative process and a film of the performance premiere which were broadcast at science festivals.
Action for Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters
This project is an action towards achieving the objectives of the European Commission's Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters, specifically contributing to the objective "Protect and restore marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity", and the enabler “Public mobilisation and engagement”.