Teaching fire science through dance

Fire science education for youth merged with the performing arts when the University of Montana’s CoMotion Dance Project presented Fire Speaks the Land: An Active Audiences Performance for students and families in Missoula yesterday. The 50-minute performance used original choreography, narration, and music to explore fire science, forest ecology, and traditional Native perspectives on fire. The live performance has appeal for all ages.

Fire Speaks the Land
Fire Speaks the Land. Photo by ©william munoz , used with permission.

Designed for K-6 students, Fire Speaks the Land features five dancers, a narrator, unique scenery and lighting, and colorful costumes as well as several opportunities for the audience to participate in the performance, both on and off stage. Students learn about ecological issues relevant to the region through an artistic, narrated performance.

In 2014 the group presented performances at 18 locations in Montana and Idaho.

This year in addition to four presentations on February 10 and 11, the CoMotion Dance Project will perform Fire Speaks the Land for 800 Flathead Valley students on Monday, March 2, at the Whitefish (Montana) Performing Arts Center. Participating Flathead Valley schools include Kalispell Middle School, Olney-Bissell School, Edgerton Elementary, Trego School, Somers Middle School and Glacier Gateway Elementary.

Karen Kaufmann, 2014 recipient of the Montana Arts Council’s Artist Innovation Award, directs the CoMotion Dance Project, an organization that promotes dance in K-12 education. Written and produced by Karen Kaufmann and Steve Kalling, the piece features choreography by Karen Kaufmann and Joy French, with live performance by five professional dancers. Original music is composed and recorded by Steve Kalling and nine Montana musicians.

Fire Speaks the Land.
Fire Speaks the Land. Photo by ©william munoz, used with permission.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.