September 2017

Dancing Earth Explores Renewable Energy


Dancing Earth—an intertribal dance ensemble based in Santa Fe and San Francisco—continues to reflect vital contemporary expressions from the heart of indigenous cultures related to climate change. After a decade of creating dance theater work that interpreted themes of water, seeds and Native foods from indigenous perspectives, the troupe has begun a multi-year project to explore the concept of renewable energy from cultural, spiritual and practical perspectives. With indigenous people on front lines of climate change everywhere, the topic is particularly relevant.


Starting with a gathering in June of intertribal elders and culture carriers, Dancing Earth, led by Rulan Tangen, continued to develop its current production at the ensemble’s 6th Summer Institute, which included cultural artist ambassadors of First Nations heritage from California, Oklahoma, Samoa, New Zealand, Canada, México, Nicaragua and Colombia, S.A. The troupe also worked in the U.S. Southwest, with appropriate cultural gift giving, consultation and permission from the Pesatas of Jicarilla Apache, Roxanne Swentzell of Santa Clara Pueblo, former Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera and other Pueblo representatives. Rehearsals were also held in New Mexico at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiú and in Santa Fe at the Academy for the Love of Learning.


The dancers kept sustainable energy in mind while assembling meals, harvesting vegetables, carrying their own water bottles, utensils and bowls, and in making costumes and props from recycled, repurposed and organic fabrics. They made huaraches (Mexican-style sandals using recycled tires), learned drum songs and skills in archery, tracking and fire making.


Learn more about Dancing Earth and artistic director Rulan Tangen at or on Facebook.





Quotes from some of Dancing Earth’s collaborators and associates:


“Dancing within a community and outdoors with the land has renewed me spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. I feel energized through using dance to activate the space.”

— Sandra Lamouche (Cree Nation, Canada)


“The window of opportunity to decarbonize our energy systems is closing. If you listen, you can hear the cries of the generations yet born pleading for us to act.”

— David Michael Karabelnikoff (Aleut) 


“It’s not about going off-grid as an individual; it’s about taking over the grid as a collective. We’re working to convey that message as well as partner with our communities to implement practical solutions.” 

— Christina Leyva (Cuban/Scottish ecological dance art-ivist)


“Renewable energy starts with appreciating life cycles of the living and the so-called lifeless. Every space and every object has a bloodline back to its origin, an enduring presence, but then must return or transform in order to complete its life cycle”

— Zoe Klein


“As we continue to dedicate our performing art-making practice to the Earth, we are open to ancient and innovative technologies. Next year our Summer Institute will begin in tipis on Jicarilla land, and we hope to create a bike-powered sound system, a dance floor that creates energy for a whole building, and other lifeways that honor the continuance of the sacredness of life. “

— Rulan Tangen




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