Mapping Environmental Dance

Mapping Environmental Dance


about the piece

Climate change and its associated social upheavals are preoccupying people in all parts of the world. The effects of man-made changes on the climate are drastically influencing life and coexistence on this planet. In order to stop the continued destruction of the environment, we need to shift from an anthropocentric view of the world to a way of dealing with nature that regards all forms of life as equal. Many place great hope in the powers of science and technology, but to achieve real sustainability in dealing with nature, technology alone will not be enough. The problems of climate change can only be solved together and art can help. We believe that dance as one of the most original forms of expression has the potential to support this search for answers, because many cultures have a large repertoire of dances that express the relationship between humans and nature in many different ways. This is also the case in numerous African cultures. Harvest dances, animal dances or rituals, such those to call for rain, are often part of complex ceremonies based on the close observation of how nature shifts and change, as well as an understanding of local ecosystems.

We would therefore like to ask ourselves: is it possible that practicing such dances makes us more attentive to the needs of nature? That dance can teach us to pay more attention to our environment? And what could forms of contemporary dance look like that deal in new ways with our relationship to nature in all its facets?


The interactive website combines knowledge of the earth’s climatic changes with traditional and contemporary dances from around the world that reflect human beings and their integration into nature. The aim of Environmental Dance is to make climate change tangible and visible on different levels, using dance, scientific data and personal testimonies from many countries around the world.

The website shows a globe. Clicking on a region takes you to numerous videos and interviews – and can also display scientific data on climate change.
The dance that can be seen here is thus geographically located and placed in the context of a landscape and the artists working there. The dance videos are, on the one hand, documentations of traditional dances to evoke rain or give thanks for the harvest. They mark the long heritage of dance worldwide in its engagement with nature. On the other hand, the website presents contemporary video dance from numerous regions of the world that finds very different ways of reflecting on the relationship between the environment and people.
In the interviews, people from all over the world report on their personal perceptions of climate change and tell how the changes on earth become tangible for them. Farmers, nature-loving people and climate activists have their say.
In addition, further climate-relevant data can be displayed on the globe, which was processed in cooperation with the Geographical Institute of the University of Bern.


Second part of the project Environmental Dance
Environmental dance globe

Second part of the project Environmental Dance


Concept: Christoph Winkler | Programming: Frederic Tachaoui | Video editing: Gabriella Fiore | | Audio Post Production: Paolo Pizzuto | Production manager: Laura Biagioni

Artist: Emma Daniel and Elisa Cucinelli | Julie Iarisoa | Ridwan Rasheed & Oluwafemi Adebajo | Dawit Seto | Zefania E. Mkumbo | MuDa | Robert Ssempijja | Donglas Koirewoa | Ea Torrado with Chino Neri, Mia Cabalfin, Eisa Jocson and Daloy | Okurut George | Aloalii Tapu | Nestor Yahi Gahe | Compagnie Debass | Eloi Hortense N'da | Karfou Mathieu Konan | Victoire Koly | Serge Amondji | Keihla Stéphane Douan | Lukas Karvelis | Michael Kaddu | Said El Haddaji | Juan Felipe Miranda Medin | Diana Teresa Gutierrez | Alex Ssebaggala | Florent Nikiéma | Eliz Queen Andika | Tushrik Fredericks & Brandon Yoon | Boogie Papeda | Wolfgang Pannek | Maura Baiocchi | Diana Bayardo | Shilpika Bordoloi | Samuli Emery | Gloria Bacon | Gervasio Cetto | Martín Alonso A. Reyes | Adilso Machado | Rima Pipoyan | Naishi Wang | Martin Hansen | Alexander Madriz | Lorin Sookool | Tjimur Dance Theatre | Sidnei Puziol |

Funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe and by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media



Can the world still be saved? rbbKultur Climate Talks

An interview with choreographer Christoph Winkler, who wants to make the climate crisis tangible online

With the new website, choreographer Christoph Winkler wants to make the climate crisis tangible and visible. To this end, dance, scientific data and personal testimonies from numerous countries around the world are to be used in equal measure. How exactly this looks and who is participating - more about this from Christoph Winkler himself, who is a guest in the rbbKultur-Studio. - rbbKultur -

Link to interview (german only)


Interview: Dance makes climate change comprehensible

Combining knowledge about climate change with dance: with this completely different approach, choreographer Christoph Winkler wants to build a bridge between scientific facts and emotional expression. On his website, he collects videos and interviews, shows artists from different regions of the world who approach the topic of climate change with the expressive form of dance or give information in conversations on how they confront global warming. In an interview with globalmagazin, he explains his motivation for this unusual project.

  • Dancing is often seen as a means of expressing joy: (How) can a dance also convey the rather difficult topic of climate change?

Christoph Winkler: At the beginning of every climate debate, there is a very simple task for the individual: treat nature with care and respect it. For thousands of years, people have expressed this mindfulness in dances about and in nature. Becoming aware of this and reactivating this knowledge seems only logical.

  • Why do you think that dance is needed as a "different" approach in the climate protection debate in order to win (more) people for the topic?

Dance brings people together and takes place outside of language. It is therefore accessible to all people, regardless of their background.

  • What is important in the project is the linking of (rather dry) scientific data and facts with (emotional expression through) dance: What EXACTLY is this link between the two elements?

Climate change is still too often communicated only through scientific parameters. There is a lack of approaches in which the scientific facts are brought together with the individual experience of people. Our project is an attempt to do exactly that: dances in which the experiences of local dance artists are expressed are combined with factual climate data.

  • Why do you focus on dancers from other regions of the world in your project: Does dance have no status in Germany?

That is a question of climate justice. We started with regions that contribute little to climate change but will be disproportionately affected by its consequences. In the meantime, however, there are also two contributions from Germany.

  • How will the project continue to grow?

The project is still very young. We are currently making it known in the dance scene. For example, it will be presented at this year's dance congress. In addition, all the participating artists will present their work in their respective regions.


Water canisters in the dried-up riverbed point the way

The Berlin-based choreographer Christoph Winkler has started a worldwide initiative. A click on the globe shows the latest developments.

The Berlin choreographer Christoph Winkler is always breaking new ground. Now he has launched the interactive website to make climate change visible. In it, Winkler combines climate research and dance from all over the world. It started with a project during the pandemic, when the artists could not travel.

"We got Corona aid and thought: how can we do projects that involve our colleagues?" says Winkler, who then initiated an online video competition. The topic: best African environmental dance video.

He had connections to Burkina Faso and Uganda through dancer friends Ahmed Soura and Robert Ssempijja. The two spread the call through their channels. Ten first prizes of 250 euros were offered. "Many of them addressed the problem of waste and deforestation," says Winkler. Many videos were shot with mobile phones. The winners also received money from a digital fund to improve the technical quality of the videos and to hire a cameraman.

Because the online project was so well received, Winkler decided: "We have to continue this! The first question was how to present the videos. Winkler came up with the idea of the globe. It was megalomaniacal to think in global dimensions, but the choreographer had contacts with the Geographical Institute of the University of Bern, to which the mLAB is attached in order to transfer climate research into artistic contexts. It processes data artistically to make it accessible to a wider audience.

If you go to the website, you see a rotating globe on which climate data can be displayed. The data shows how much global temperatures have risen over the last 150 years - and how they are projected to continue to rise until 2100.

The simulations of temperature rise and precipitation were created by the mLAB and financed with money from the digital funding programme. For the CO2 emissions, external sources such as ArcGis were consulted. The development of glaciers worldwide is currently in progress.

Clicking on a specific region on the globe takes you to the dance videos. The foundation stone was formed by the commissioned works from African countries. In addition, videos from other countries of the global south have been added, meanwhile also some from Europe. The videos were shot in different landscapes: in the jungle and in the steppe. In a video from Ethiopia, the dancers mark the original course of the water in a dry riverbed with canisters.

Other African dancers plough through rubbish tips with car tyres or put their bodies into plastic bags. A video from the Philippines is almost surreal, showing dancers on the beach wearing bizarre costumes made of cut-up plastic bottles and looking like fantastic sea creatures.

The third element of the project is the videos of traditional dances. Winkler says he wants to show that many dances already deal with nature, such as harvest dances and rain dances. They are complemented by interviews in which farmers, artists and climate activists report on how climate change becomes tangible for them.

 Winkler was able to use his worldwide network for this ambitious project. More videos, interviews and data will be added in the coming months. At the Dance Congress in Mainz in June, the choreographer will present the website in a lecture. Winkler has done pioneering work with Now he hopes that other companies will participate who can finance the videos themselves. "The project has the potential for the dance scene to make a big statement."
- Sandra Luzina - -


Interwiev: Christoph, you are sitting in your studio in a former electrical company in Lichtenberg. One of your two rooms was recently put out to tender and awarded by the administration. What does that mean for the Christoph Winkler Company?

Christoph Winkler: Ever since the landlord announced a threefold rent increase two and a half years ago, we have been looking for a solution with the Senate and the people in charge. That solution was found: Kulturraum Berlin GmbH took over our two rooms in the workspace programme. We gave up the large space, which was awarded to the choreographer Jefta Van Dinther in the jury decision, and retreated to the smaller space. We don't lose our space and someone new can join us.

  • In view of the dramatic space situation in Berlin, that seems very calm. What about your financing?

Christoph Winkler: Financially, it's the same as before: we get the four-year concept funding from the state of Berlin, which we have to reapply for in 2023. In order to make ends meet financially, I have to keep applying for our projects. With the Corona programme NEUSTART KULTUR, additional funding instruments have been added. Tanz.Digital or #TakePart, which we used to finance the website for the Environmental Dance project on the climate crisis, has already triggered a certain development for us. Part of this financial deal, however, is that I still do construction work myself and lay the floor in the new studio.

  • That, too, sounds more like managing scarcity than enjoying the craft.

Christoph Winkler: Well. We from the AG Konzeptgeförderter Gruppen, who have been working in Berlin for a long time, have written a position paper on this, which we handed over to the LAFT. It deals with the decline in institutional funding, the age pyramid in the independent performing arts and generational justice. The situation is similar for all of us - whether She She Pop, the soloist ensemble Kaleidoskop or Gob Squad: we are busy with the permanent application for funding. The main funding is not enough, and although you have received a vote for your work, you have to move from jury to jury. Berlin should really say, okay, we have a lot of big houses, but we also have a block of independent groups that has grown over decades, with a lot of power and success, and we have to take care of them.

  • The 10,000 euros from the German Dance Prize are certainly just a drop in the ocean. To what extent do such prestigious prizes have a positive impact - more funding, less of a constant flow of applications, more enquiries?

Christoph Winkler: Of course I am happy, no question. But after the experience of the other prizes, I don't expect a free ride. The first rejections of applications are already coming in. It would be crucial to react differently with funding, as we propose in our position paper.

  • How do you manage to pass on funds and resources to artists and initiatives in other countries under these financially tight conditions? During the pandemic, you commissioned videos on the topic of climate catastrophe for the Environmental Dance project all over the world, to Burkina Faso, Colombia, Japan, Tunisia and the Philippines.

Christoph Winkler: When you work with people from the Global South, they should also get something out of it, in terms of sustainability for their structure. With Environmental Dance, there is also the fact that the interviews and videos have to be produced locally according to the topic.

  • Can you briefly explain what the project is about?

Christoph Winkler: We collect environmental dance videos from all over the world on the website, on a globe with current climate data, which the Geographical Institute of the University of Bern has programmed for us. Climate change and the social upheavals that go along with it concern people in all parts of the world. In our opinion, dance can accompany the search for a more sustainable approach to our environment. In many cultures, there are dances that express the relationship of people to nature - harvest dances, animal dances or rituals such as rainmaking, which are based on close observation of nature and knowledge of local ecosystems. This knowledge is shared with us by our colleagues at Environmental Dance. I don't travel around the world with a crew, but they use or build their own structure. Like the dancer Ahmed Soura, who has been building his own production house in Burkina Faso for a few years with the money he earned in Europe, or Robert Ssempijja, who bought land in the Luanda region for a similar project. We support that as much as we can.

  • Is this a kind of development aid?

Christoph Winkler: In the long run, these local projects increase visibility in one's own country. Especially in African countries, it is also about making it clear that dance and choreography can be an economic profession. The opposite is also very enriching for us, because we see how large and diverse the dance scene is worldwide.
- Elena Philipp - Tanzraumberlin