Small Steps on Climate Change in Metro Boston
Small Steps on Climate Change began as a dance and embodied movement performance intended to inspire Metro Boston to view climate change as an opportunity to create stronger, collaborative, healthier, and more vibrant communities in the face of climate challenges. Movement artists were to perform a series of separate, diverse, and multi-cultural works on tiny stages serving as a visual metaphor for human resilience through limited resources.
Just six weeks before opening night, COVID-19 altered the path. Live performances were cancelled, and the project became Small Steps: Dances of Resilience, a full-length documentary film about overcoming the struggle to create and perform during a global pandemic. The dancers tell their stories of climate, COVID, art, and hope, and, finally, they dance.
The production was developed by movement artist, screenwriter, and MAPC Artist-in-Residence Hortense Gerardo and MAPC Senior Environmental Planner Darci Schofield to integrate the arts into climate change planning.
Small Steps: Dances of Resilience
Flamenco dancer, choreographer, and educator
Born in Spain, Laura is an award-winning flamenco dancer, choreographer, and leader of Expressive Flamenco©, an expressive arts therapy. In addition to founding LS Flamenco, she is a teaching artist at Boston Ballet, Flamnco Vivo Carolot Santana in NYC, and the Dance Complex.
Former Los Angeles Ballet soloist
Elizabeth Walker is a former soloist with the Los Angeles Ballet for eight seasons. She has danced a wide range of roles; her favorites include the Dark Angel in Balanchine’s Serenade, Desdemona in Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane, and Arabian in The Nutcracker. A graduate of Harvard University, Elizabeth is now pursuing a career in government, working to advance climate change policy and awareness.
KRUMP and fusion hip-hop dancer.
Leader of the Boston Climate Strike
Simon Chernow was a core leader in Boston’s Climate Strike, which had over 15,000 attendees in September 2019. Simon has always kept a strong tie between his activism and dance: he was the Boston Climate Strike's featured dancer and an environmental justice activist for the Boston Student Advisory Council. Studying dance at UCLA, Joffrey Hip Hop, and Boston University, Simon is KRUMP and fusion hip-hop dancer performing on the streets of the East Coast.
Haitian dance troupe fusing contemporary elements with Haitian folkloric dance
Jean Appolon Expressions celebrates and advances Haitian folkloric dance by building a contemporary cultural community that produces professional performances and educational opportunities. JAE has performed at many schools and colleges, including American University, Harvard University, Lesley University, Salem State, Bridgewater State, and Wheaton College. The company has been fortunate to share the stage with celebrities such as Danny Glover, Henry Louis Gates, and Edwidge Danticat, and to collaborate with community partners around the Greater Boston area.
Contemporary modern dancer
A native Bostonian, Olivia studied dance at the Boston Arts Academy and continued her training in Cape Town, South Africa. She achieved summa cu laude BFA at George Mason University’s School of Dance where she received the mason School of Dance’s Excellence in Choreography. Currently, she dances with Boston-based Urbanity Dance and teaches the next generation of Boston artists.
Competitive ballroom salsa dancers and instructors
Any Berube began dancing professionally at the age of 13 with a folkloric ballet dance company in Colombia, her birth-country. Any moved to the United States in 2004, where she obtained a dance certification and teaches ballroom, latin, and latin cardio at Krystall Ballroom in Salem, NH. Theo is a ballroom and salsa dancer in instructor whose first love of dance is hip-hop. Any and Theo were invited to perform at the Boston Salsa Festival in 2019 and compete regularly.
The threats—and opportunity—of Climate Change
In the last five years, Massachusetts has experienced increasingly more frequent and severe weather events: record-breaking snowfall in 2015, a wide-spread and severe drought in 2016, the warmest year on record in 2017, and four Nor’easters in one month and heavy flooding in 2018. In the fall of 2018, the state experienced the greatest amount of precipitation since record-taking began in 1890. Climate change is not just imminent but is currently affecting our cities, towns, and people.
As a result, cities and towns must prepare for continued emergency response in extreme weather events. Many residents face the likelihood of losing their homes to sea level rise and coastal storms. Some are exposed to greater health risks associated with warming temperatures (EEE, West Nile Virus, Cardiovascular and Respiratory diseases etc.), and the region must face the seemingly insurmountable investments required to protect our communities. This knowledge creates a sense of urgency but also despair. Change and loss is incredibly difficult to manage and can also cause inaction for the immense burden it imposes on our communities.
But climate change is also an opportunity: a chance to transform our communities to be stronger and resilient to future impacts. Small Steps on Climate Change embodies this opportunity.