Talking Moves Series 5 Episode 3: Environment and Touring

Talking Moves | 27 May 2022

In this episode, we talk to Marla King and Adam Benjamin about environmental responsibility.

Many of us have long recognised our role in protecting the planet but perhaps the last two years of the pandemic – when we lived in our parks and gardens, saw our skies fill with birdsong and our roads quieten – has unlocked a willingness for more of us to take action. But what does action look like for our sector?

We start off by discussing what had changed for us in the past few years, how we came to notice our damaging behaviours (such as extensive travel) and how the climate crisis has intensified in urgency. We discuss social justice within this and how everyone is not equally responsible. We reflect upon the pressures on the younger generation of dancer who seem to be socially and environmentally aware (in ways we weren’t years ago) but who cannot be held solely responsible for evoking change. We also reflect on the fact that the training Marla and other dancers of her generation have had, even recently, has seemed to sidestep any references to environmental responsibility as they prepared for dancing careers.

We find out about Adam’s ecological project The Dancer’s Forest and how Marla entrepreneurially trained to be a carbon literacy trainer alongside starting a podcast A Little Bit of Lagom. In fact, business and environmental responsibility overlap a few times as we contemplate what a world might look like if we conducted our dancing business in hyperlocal settings rather than trying to ‘tour the world’ and how casting changes if the criteria of ‘local’ is put before other aspects.

And finally, we reflect on the changes we could make as individuals and as a sector, how wellbeing is interlinked with environmental awareness and how technologies can offer some solutions (but also contribute to more problems we have yet to fully unpick…)

A conversation which raises more questions than giving answers perhaps, and a starting point as we all reflect on how we can all work greener.

Resources and further reading

Carbon offsetting
Carbon literacy training
Julie’s Bicycle
Theatre Green Book

Who's Who

Adam Benjamin. A black and white photo of a man's head and shoulders. He has stubble and wears glasses on his head

Adam Benjamin

Adam Benjamin was joint founder of CandoCo Dance Company and a pioneer of integrated dance. A longtime improviser and a founder member of ‘5 Men Dancing’, he has performed and taught with Kirstie Simson, Rick Nodine, Jordi Cortés, Kim Itoh and Russell Maliphant. His book Making an Entrance. Theory and practice for disabled and non-disabled dancers is considered a seminal text and will be published in second edition this June – with the new subtitle Dancing out the message behind inclusive practice.

In South Africa, shortly after the dismantling of apartheid, he founded the award winning Tshwaragano Dance Company, the first South African dance company integrated on both racial and disability lines. Prior to the pandemic he created Marked for Exim Dance Company and Open State for Company-Kyo in Japan.

Since the pandemic he has been raising awareness of sustainability within the dance industry through the Dancers’ Forest and has been teaching tai chi and improvisation locally. He will feature in the BBC Arts and OneDance’s UK DancePassion series in March.

Adam has received numerous awards including a London Time Out performance award and the Sainsburys award for education. He has been an Associate Artist at The Place, a Wingate Scholar, a Rayne Choreographic Fellow and recipient of an Arts Council International Artist Fellowship. He was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2013 and was named a Change Maker, by the South Bank Centre in 2015.
Marla King. A woman with long brown hair stands in front of a wooden fence. She is wearing a purple roll neck

Marla King

Marla (she/her) is a Welsh freelance dance artist, climate justice activist, and qualified sports massage therapist. Since training at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, she went onto an apprenticeship with National Dance Company Wales and has since worked with choreographers including Gwyn Emberton, Rhiannon Faith Company, Rendez Vous Dance, Eleesha Drennan and the community dance organisation Impelo. Marla also runs a podcast which takes a more human approach to climate conversations, highlighting the connections between social and environmental injustices and exploring ways that taking collective action can evoke positive change. She is an ambassador for the Resilience Circle Project which aims empower young people who are experiencing climate anxiety and burnout to build resilience, emotional awareness and foster communities for collective care and wellbeing, and she volunteers for the COP26 Coalition Cardiff Hub that work to strengthen connections between community groups and campaigns across Cardiff to advocate for climate and social justice in a supportive and collaborative way. She has also been involved in a collaborative arts project, commissioned by Artscape, focused on engaging community in climate awareness and action, inviting a challenge of perspective on how we perceive our connection with nature and influence on the natural world through our actions.

“Collaboration is such a fulfilling process which takes you to many unexpected places, offers so much learning and exploration, along with the opportunity to connect with many inspiring people throughout the process of making and sharing what you create.”

Marla also works for SAIL, an arts organisation based in Leeds who are supporting the creative and cultural sector to feel empowered to take climate action. This work involves delivering workshops around climate awareness and ways to take action in considered, informed and meaningful ways.

More in the Talking Moves series

Talking Moves Bonus Episode: Arts Funding in Crisis

Talking Moves bonus episode: Arts Funding in Crisis with Nicholas Hytner and Tarek Iskander

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Talking Moves Series 5 Episode 6: Making Positive Change

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Talking Moves Series 5 Episode 5: Parenting in the Arts