Dance Goes Green

Long concerning itself with social issues, modern dance is increasingly incorporating environmental themes into its works—both artistic and otherwise

By Emily Macel

In addition to these efforts, more and more dance companies and schools are going green in the spaces where they perform and give classes. Point Park University in Pittsburgh opened an environmentally-friendly dance complex in 2007, and was awarded the NC-Gold level certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] this fall. The building boasts large windows to maximize natural light; convection and radiant heat systems; a high-performance HVAC system; paints, carpeting, and other interior elements that reduce indoor air contaminants; Forest Stewardship Council-certified floors; and an Energy Star-rated roof. Moreover, 25% of the building materials were manufactured within 500 miles of the University, and 85% of the demolition and construction waste was diverted from landfills. 

And Greenbelt, Brooklyn’s first Gold-registered LEED residences, incorporates a dance-performance space into its design. Dance artist Jonah Bokaer saw Brooklyn's condominium boom causing a loss of affordable studio and living space, and conceived of a green building that would subsidize a theater. The idea appealed to John Jasperse, whose dance company was operating out of a loft in Brooklyn until they lost their lease; now the Center for Performance Research [CPR] is on the ground floor of the five-story building. Construction used 40% recycled or rapidly-renewable materials and provided for fresh filtered air and finishes without harmful chemicals. They also plan to install LED theatrical lighting fixtures, which use a quarter to an eighth of the energy of conventional lighting. 

Jasperse says Greenbelt and CPR “combine the idea of sustaining dance artists along with a kind of environmental responsibility embedded into the mission. We’re trying to solve many different problems at once."

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