Words Images Life Art Dance

While following the events at Standing Rock, I ran across something that impressed me that was shared from the “Dancing Earth” fb page,  and so I began following them  (please do check them out if you like powerful dance images).

At the end of April, just before MCS/ES Awareness Month was to begin, Dancing Earth posted the image below, and it made me stop in my tracks (as I scrolled through my fb newsfeed). I returned to it over and over again, and I finally asked for permission to share it here, and for the  back story about how it came to be.

This image!

Songs From The Extraction Zones
Rulan Tangen at Santa Fe Arts Institute

I kept hoping to find the words to describe why I find it to be such a powerful image, and why I feel such a personal connection to it, but I’ve been struggling from the effects of too much pollution on my brain. Pesticides, laundry products, and who knows what else have been taking their toll on my ability to string words together to do this the justice I feel it deserves, so this will not be as eloquent as I had hoped it would be, but I still want to share this with you, and maybe you will find some of your own words, or just sit with the feelings.

What struck me at first are the things that are probably quite obvious to most  people who have MCS/ES: the gas mask (to protect us from the VOCs emanating from everyday products and other pollutants),  the feathers (even though not the yellow of a canary, I felt some kinship), the glass wall (the bubble that segregates us from all the activities and people of the toxic world), the hard spartan floor (of a rather austere life that gets forced on us as carpets and so much of what is soft and comfortable now tends to be petroleum based and toxic), the multitude of plastics and other products (that are made from, contain, and  off-gas the toxic petro-chemicals that disable us), the blue of water (that has to be filtered so we can drink it), and more… And some of the more can get emotional.

It hit me on such a deep, fundamental level, and can still bring tears to my eyes and a swelling in my heart, so I was glad when the artist elaborated on what else this meant and was evoking in me.


Rulan Tangen, who is a cancer survivor, described her work with these words:

“This performance art is an iteration of over a decade of eco danceworks about protection of water, seeds , sacred sites … the skirt is the color of blue water stained by oil and covered w trash. The headdress and gas mask signify the objectification and exploitation of indigenous people, women, children, elders, people of color, and our relatives the plants, animals, minerals – and the violence, toxification, and pollution. The imagery includes oil slicked birds , and greed consuming a river of water, which becomes the red blood of the earth and those who shed blood to protect her.”   



Click on the images to enlarge them!

These photos are from an April 28th performance art installation that was a part of the SFAI Water Rights Residency, and were taken by Bobbe Besold (of Rivers Run Through Us) who is collaborating with Dancing Earth and Alicia De Silva (of Not Afraid to Look) to produce the upcoming  Water is Life Festival (Agua es la Vida), which will include a Global Water Dance, and is taking place on June 24 from 5-8 at Santa Fe Botanical Garden.


DANCING EARTH CREATIONS is a non profit organization whose mission is to support Indigenous dance and related arts by encouraging and revitalizing awareness of bio-cultural diversity through artistic expression for the education and wellness of all peoples. We embody our mission by giving hope and opportunity to Native talent who are outside the dialogue of mainstream performance due to lack of access, bringing the diversity of Indigenous cultural philosophies into vital contemporary discourses and lived experiences, and cultivating Indigenous expressive arts, community and personal wellness, and ecological consciousness.

There is no time more crucial than now to assist our work in mentorship of Native artists and culture carriers; to make dance works that connect the knowledge of inter-tribal elders with the imagination of Native youth, our nation, and our global networks in the face of on-going ecological crisis.

Rulan Tangen (Founding Director and Choreographer, Dancing Earth Creations) culminates her dance journey with founding of Dancing Earth Creations in 2004, after several decades of an international professional dance career in ballet, modern, powwow, opera, film and television.

Surviving cancer to discover her leadership purpose, her founding vision for Dancing Earth is to serve an unmet need in the United States by giving hope and opportunity to Native talent who are outside of professional performance due to a lack of access and resources. She cultivates a new generation of inter-disciplinary dance artists  through creative practice that is rooted in outdoor ‘land dance’, and continues to discover decolonized indigeneity through integration of diverse inter-tribal aesthetics and values…

Click on her name (above) to learn more about her awesomeness!

The other links  lead to related (interconnected) sites and  people who might not know anything about MCS/ES, but who dedicate their lives to making this world a better, healthier place to be for everyone.


One thing we can all do now to reduce our use of fossil fuels and toxic chemicals, and to create accessible spaces, is to choose fragrance-free, non-toxic personal care, laundry, and cleaning products.

Even if we can’t do much more than that now, we will still create powerful ripples in the air we all breathe, and in the water we all drink,  just by changing these everyday products!

This reduces the need for oil, gas, and petrochemical infrastructure, and contributes to better health and well-being on  personal and societal levels, as well as up and downstream all around Mother Earth.

There is no away. We are all in this together.

Thank you Rulan and Dancing Earth!

5 responses to “Words Images Life Art Dance

  1. Thanks for sharing

  2. Thank you for the beautiful post. Like you I have been exposed to many chemicals this week, more than normal, and my body is drained. Post like these are powerful so I posted it on face book. Again, thank you

  3. Thank you for this post! I’m breathing grass seed field burning smoke and agricultural dust, both of which are full of agricultural chemicals, it’s very wonderful to see Dancing Earth’s work and know what they are doing.

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