Dr. Vaccaro does not “dance” around the topic of climate change

By Christian McCarville

Dance is an art form that can say so much without saying anything at all. Dancers convey emotions and feelings with their elegant and swooping movements across the stage. Dance professor Kim Vaccaro uses dancing to spread awareness of the changing climates across the globe while also emphasizing how waste can be cutdown and be more sustainable.

Rider Dances has previously performed the Dance and Sustainability Project on campus on multiple occasions. It has always attracted a large crowd and many acclaims throughout its multiple showings. The show was directed by Vaccaro and all participants were Rider students.

Vaccaro was recently given the incredible opportunity to present a Dance and Sustainability research project at the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)’s national conference. This project was in collaboration with senior dance performance major Gabriella Boes.

“Over the course of 9 months, Dance and Sustainability Project (DASP) partnered students from across campus with environmental groups in our community as well as Artichoke Dance, whose work is at the intersection of art and environmental action,” said Vaccaro. “Many of those involved and who attended felt the final presentation was transformative in understanding their personal responsibility to the planet.”

The creation of the Dance and Sustainability project was no easy feat. It involved 35 dancers and six choreographers with additional help given by Rider Eco-Reps and filmmakers.

“I was extremely honored to be a part of a project that was presented at a national conference. I feel that the Dance and Sustainability Project is a message worth sharing with as large an audience as possible,” said sophomore dance and elementary education major Hannah Wade. “The pieces included in the show each expressed a message surrounding the theme of environmental change, which is an idea we all believe should be spread across the world.”

At the conference, Vaccaro and Boes presented a poster that included a brief summary of the Dance and Sustainability project that was performed at Rider. Also included on the poster were a few testimonials of Rider students who participated in the project as well as those who have seen the performance.

Vaccaro and Boes’ poster was seen by over 900 dance educators from all over the country. It was one of several dozen posters presented at the conference. Over 250 workshops, panels, performances and presentations were shown over the three-day course of the conference.

The pair attended many conference sessions on a variety of topics related to dance. They were able to learn lots of useful information that they may someday implement in their future dances.

Both Vaccaro and Boes were given an incredible opportunity to further expand upon an excellent combination of dance and environmental awareness. Performances like this can help audiences rise to action in an effort to reverse the harmful damages done to the environment.

“Dance as an art form can evoke emotions that other mediums cannot. By presenting such a strong message through dance, those in the audience feel a personal connection to our message and are more likely to relate to the ideas,” said Wade. “We hope that through watching our pieces each individual in the audience will change at least one habit to positively impact the environment.”

Vaccarro will also serve as an artistic director and choreographer in the upcoming Rider Dances: Moving in Our Community performance. The show will take place on March 7 at 7:30 p.m. and March 8 at 2 p.m.

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