FLPCI Alum’s choreography finds inspiration through permaculture

Global Water Dances, Boulder Reservoir, June 2013 (Photo credit: Charles Dietrich)

Maren Waldman is a dancer, choreographer, educator, and body-worker who is passionate about researching the ways that dance and movement build connection. Her work draws on permaculture principles, body awareness healing practices, and dance technique to specifically investigate the relationship between the body and the planet. Her art-activism takes a heart-centered approach to addressing urgent environmental concerns.

Maren earned a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute in 2012 and an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography with a focus on Somatics from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2014. A former Ithaca resident, she is excited to return to her beloved homeland in June and share her work.

Maren relaxing on a foot bridge at Cayuta Sun, the site of FLPCI's summer permaculture course.

Ms. Waldman’s current project, Postcards to the Earth, engages people in expressing their personal, emotional relationship to the Earth. The project exists in many forms including a live dance performance, a dance film, and a growing postcard collection. Maren will be sharing her postcard project at Radical Reconnecting through Permaculture, Ceremony, and Movement on the summer solstice, June 21, 2014.

In an interview with this author, She describes her current work:

A postcard is a simple act of communication typically sent from one to another across a distance. In western industrial society, we have chosen lifestyles that separate us from the Earth. We have forgotten our integral role as members of our planet’s ecosystem. Writing a postcard to a favorite place in nature invites us to pause in our busy lives, remember our connection to the earth, and take action through expression. My hope is that this postcard collection grows as people worldwide contribute their voices. The growing collection makes our collective voices visible and material, elucidating the reality of our human-earth relationship.”

Performance at conference for Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Fall 2012

Maren tells FLPCI that the most valuable teachings from her permaculture education has been learning how much more possible it is to live in tune with nature. She says,

Nature reveals patterns and systems that we can apply to use less energy in our approach to agriculture while providing more surplus. I also felt an emotional shift during the course as I slowed down my lifestyle to notice and feel just how wise, intelligent, and expressive nature is. I swelled with appreciation for the tiniest spider and the most magnificent, 200-year-old white pine tree.

While I had never before studied agriculture or ecology, my FLPCI permaculture education has launched me into a world of curiosity about how I can more efficiently use resources in my life, from my personal energy to my container gardening… The course provided inspiration for lifestyle changes that I still strive to enact.”

Many students study permaculture to inform their work on landscapes. Maren reflects on how leaning about ecology through the lens of permaculture principles has influenced her analysis and her choreography:

Permaculture also taught me how to see space differently. This directly applies to my work in dance. After my permaculture course, I became more aware of how water moves through a landscape. Water is a major force in shaping landscapes, and designing for water is a crucial component in permaculture. My deepening interest in water, combined with moving to Colorado where water is a more urgent issue, became the topic of exploration for my most recent choreographic works, Enough, and Postcards to the Earth. I educated my cast of seven dancers about permaculture principles. I designed movement explorations to embody principles. We observed how applying the principle to movement could inform us, and we became curious about what moving bodies could teach us about the principle.”

In the upcoming Radical Reconnection Solstice experience, she is looking forward to using movement for discovery to facilitate growth into a deeper personal understanding of our relationships with the earth through the lenses of permaculture and embodiment. Maren is looking forward to “learning from the other incredible, wise-women permaculturists, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan and Megan Barber.” She states, “I look forward to co-creating intentional space with everyone there as we pause our busy lives and journey together to honor the earth through solstice.”