Dance company takes out the trash, littorally

for The Brooklyn Paper
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This dance performance is a piece of garbage.

Artichoke Dance Company will take to the sand with movement, drums and dustpans on Sept. 25 for an environmentally themed piece coinciding with an annual fall coastal cleanup day.

“I see a lot more trash on the beach these days, especially plastic,” said artist director Lynn Neuman, whose Park Slope-based group will perform “Your Planet: The Human Mapping Project” on the sand in front of the New York Aquarium following several hours of beach cleansing.

“I wanted to do the project on the shoreline because that’s where the problem manifests.”

Clad in costumes crafted from plastic six-pack rings by South Slope artist Olek — known for her captivating crocheted sculptures of bicycles and cars — six dancers will map the journey of trash as it leaves human hands and makes its way to the ocean. There, fish and other animals unknowingly eat the plastic, which has been broken down to microscopic levels. From there, it enters the food chain — of which we sit atop.

“Our bodies reflect the state of the ocean,” said Neuman. “Like the ocean, our bodies are made of water, and scientists have found traces of plastic in both.”

The public is invited to participate in the performance by playing instruments made from recycled and found objects. You might want to do your part and pick up a stray water bottle, too.

Plastic bags, bottle caps, and cigarette butts make up the bulk of what Bay Ridge resident Anita Cabrera removes from Coney Island and surrounding beaches.

“I’ve actually seen birds choke on plastic fishing line,” said Cabrera, a member of the American Littoral Society, which is hosting a beach cleanup before the dance company performs. “It’s pretty ugly.”

“Human Mapping Project” (on the beach at the New York Aquarium at W. Eighth Street and the Boardwalk in Coney Island, no phone), Sept. 25 at 1 pm. Free. For info, visit

Updated 5:20 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Kathryn from Prospect Lefferts Gardens says:
The show was covered in recycling- not garbage, which I believe was the purpose and the choreographer's vision.
Suggesting that the work itself was 'garbage' is certainly misleading. The dancers were lovely. The piece incoroporated the audience as participants: offering them a circular platform to play recyclables as instruments- suggesting we find new uses for our 'used'. Bringing the audience and dancers together at the end to walk toward the ocean over the freshly cleaned beach (volunteers helped clean the beach of its 'used' before the performance) was poignant and moving.
Don't miss it this saturday at Coney Island.
Sept. 20, 2010, 5:04 pm
Bette Ayling from Fort Myers, FL says:
My husband and I attended the Artichoke Dance Company Beach Clean Up and performance event at Manhattan Beach on 9/18 and found it interesting and inspiring. Lot's of volunteers for the beach clean-up along with a unique, timely and thought provoking performance. While we thought that the body of the article about this event was informative, we found the title to be not only misleading but very negative. Those who had not previously experienced the fine performances by Artichoke would be totally mislead regarding the quality of their work by the title used for your review of this event. Please correct the incorrect first impression you have created for Artichoke.
Sept. 20, 2010, 8:21 pm
Marc Kassin from Greenpoint says:
This performance is inspired by, not actually, garbage.

Neuman's choreography is genius. Emulating the life beach trash takes on and eventually destroys.

Collaborating amazing talent and attention to a great cause makes for a memorable afternoon. Reinforcing the strength of the dancers, are rhythms played on found & recycled objects. Guests of all ages are encouraged to join in and express. Helping us remember the importance of recycling are Olek's costumes crocheted from plastic six-pack holders.

The Manhattan Beach location turnout was awesome. Many locals were inspired to come out and help clean up the beach. The dance performance projected the importance of the cause.

Very often, the best canvas' are created with a good cause backbone. Come to The Coney Island Boardwalk Beach(in front of the Aquarium) this Saturday September 25th, 2010 to be a part of the art. Starting with beach cleanup @ 10am and performance promptly @ 1pm.

Marc K
Sept. 22, 2010, 9:36 pm
Melissa from Brooklyn says:
While there is actual trash re-purposed as percussion instruments in this piece, the performance itself is far from garbage. It is a smart, evocative, and powerful commentary on our relationship to the planet, and the disposable consumer culture we have created.
Sept. 24, 2010, 10:36 am
Barbara Todish from Newark, NJ says:
Took me a long time to get out of Brooklyn!!! call me.
Nov. 9, 2010, 8:58 pm

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