Dance as a Revolutionary Tool in the Struggle for Climate Justice

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By Joseph Orosco (July 16, 2021)

In this episode of our podcast, Conversations on Anarres, we sat down with dancer and filmmaker Shane Scopatz to talk about his new work “Steps and Strikes”. Shane is a recent graduate of the Master’s Program in Environmental Humanities at Oregon State University. His film hopes to address the provocative question: Why did the environmental movement fail to protect us from ecological crisis?

 We sat down with Shane to discuss his answer to this question We talk about the way in which global capitalism has dispossessed billions of people and created the conditions for climate catastrophe.  But we also talk about the ways in which people resist–using the labor movement to build organized people power against corporate control of the environment. The big issue today is: How do we bridge the labor movement and the environmental movement?

An answer to this involves the way Shane has chosen to resist:  that involves dance.  Invoking the legacy of a radical dance movement from the 1930s, the Worker’s Dance League, Shane has decided to explore how dance can be a way to expand the radical imagination and get us to think about the ways to build connection between social movements.  Art in general, but dance in particular can help to develop emotions like joy and ecstasy and sustain a guiding vision toward a more collective, just, ecologically attuned future.

If you haven’t heard of the Worker’s Dance league, you can start here.

This article gives some background, with video snippets, of the work of Sophie Maslow who carried on the legacy of the WDL, using dance to tell the story of working class Americans.

You can see Shane Scopatz’s film “Steps and Strikes” here.

Here is our full interview, with snippets from “Steps and Strikes”

Here is our podcast to listen and download.

Please let us know what you think!