Core Dance recently completed an environmental activation project in Hawai’i as part of Global Water Dances 2021. During this time, the artists participated in a four day cultural immersion practice with esteemed Hula instructor Ryan McCormack, aided in a beach cleanup at Kamilo Point, engaged with the local community by teaching classes at Volcano Art Center, and removed invasive plants in support of native species at the Keau’ohana lowland rainforest.
All of these actions would not have been possible without the knowledge and guidance of our partner organizations in Hawai’i: Hawai’i Wildlife Fund and Hawai’i Environmental Restoration. It would also not have been possible without the commitment and vision of Core Dance Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Sue Schroeder.
Sue’s connection with the environment began at a young age, leading her to direct environmental activism as an artist/activist over the past 20 years. Her parents grew up as children of farmers, and she shares “We always had a garden, we always had fresh fruit. Everything about the land mattered.” In her personal life she chooses to make conscious choices about things that impact the land she inhabits, whether that be recycling, conserving water, engaging in dialogue with others, or taking action in the local community. She offers “I think it’s just part of my way of being.”
At the organizational level, Sue has made it a priority to ensure Core Dance takes an active role in the environmental crisis on both the continental US and around the globe. Starting in the early 2000s Sue became interested in researching the crisis through movement. A work that encapsulates three years of this research is if… a memoir, which is described as a love song for humanity. Following this, Core Dance became involved with National Water Dances in 2018, and thus Global Water Dances in 2019. The two celebrations happen biannually, allowing the Artists to participate in one each year.
Prior to Global Water Dances 2021, Sue had visited Hawai’i many times. She notes that she identifies as a traveler rather than a tourist, and spends time to “go deep” into the culture and history of a specific location. “Wherever I am, the land is important to me… I feel it’s important to know that when you are creating community, it takes time. Revisit a place. Deepen it.” While in Hawai’i the artists not only engaged with the local community through classes and communal movement blessings, they also did important work on the frontlines cleaning up beaches and removing invasive plant species. Sue plans to bring this experience to all the places she calls “home”, sharing with others so they too can take active roles in conserving our planet and decreasing human impact on the environment.
A powerful concluding thought she shares, “Art is one of the few things that has the capacity to activate empathy”, adding “Life has to present itself, and experience has to present itself, and then you succumb to empathy. Activating empathy is the way we each are moved to take action.”
Thank you Sue for sharing your experience and insight with us.
To find out more about how you can join the fight for safe water, visit our webpage.