In the spring of 2004, New York-based choreographer and community activist Jennifer Monson and her company created an inspired initiative that built bridges between the spheres of environmental education and dance. Guided by art and nature and realized through the language of dance, Bird Brain
investigated migratory patterns and habits of ducks and geese, as well as their biophysical and metaphorical relationship to humans. Bird Brain
culminated in four free outdoor dance performances in key outdoor sites, from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to a courtyard on the University of Minnesota campus to a former Super Fund site maintained by the National Guard. Two of the four performances involved area grade school students as dancers. A yearlong curriculum, developed by Monson and the Walker Education and Community Programs department, was used at schools all along the Texas-to-Canada migratory path. Three of the four performances were followed by a discussion with scientists, environmental and community activists, and artists.
More than 90 fifth and sixth graders from Marcy Open School, Battle Creek Environmental Magnet School, The Paul and Sheila Wellstone School, and the Minnesota Waldorf School in Maplewood learned about the importance of bird habitats and environmental stewardship. Collaborating organizations included Audubon MN, the Bell Museum of Natural History, Journey North, The Minnesota Ornithologist Union, and the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota National Guard, and the city of Minneapolisí MOSAIC 2004 celebration. The Walker and Monson developed a 25-page classroom resource guide that integrates the study of bird migration with the disciplines of dance, art, and writing. . . .
Jennifer Monson has been pursuing an original approach to experimental dance forms in New York City since 1983 when she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. In that time, she has created a wide body of work that incorporates well-developed collaborative relationships with many artists including...