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Posted - 08/27/2016
Seeding a Dance Movement for a 100% Clean Energy Future


By 2016 ITP Grant Partner Magalie Bonneau, Founder, Dancing Without Borders
The Pause retreat we recently hosted was an invitation to explore how we could enroll those who work at the intersection of participatory art, storytelling with those campaigning for a 100% renewable future at policy levels into building a movement that's led by the power of the arts. For a few days, we explored how we could support greater grassroots engagement in shifting the cultural and political narrative around climate change by making the movement irresistible and compelling.

On June 9th, 25 participants took part of a Movement Building Salon where we explored the intersection of storytelling, digital media, climate change and dance. Of this dynamic group, eight participants joined a day- long strategic meeting on the following day. The retreat was dynamic, rich in thoughts and diversity, shared inspiration, enthusiasm, wisdom and cross-pollination, allowing us to forge the connections and synergies that we believe makes the Dance 100% movement possible.

Our exquisite multi-disciplinary group of creative visionaries included social artists, thought leaders, movement builders, communication experts, climate scientists, and influential government officials. Participants came from the Middle East, the east coast, and all over California to dream and reflect together.

The community experience was especially rich due to its embodied format, which allowed the connections and conversations to drop in deeply and build a strong field of trust. It reflected the wholeness that we wish to bring in the climate movement, reconnecting mind, heart, body, soul, community and earth. While this holistic approach felt natural to the artistic community, for the climate scientist, movement builders and policy experts, the design of the event felt quite radical in the most positive way. Their receptivity was amazing. As a result, a lot of enthusiasm was built which inspired most of the participants to want to continue collaborating together. How we engaged together helped everyone to remember that culture making precedes politics.
Ultimately, we came out of the Pause retreat with the commitment to communicate the vision of 100% renewable energy through a series of ‘dance spectacles’ turned into short videos, with an aim to cement 100% RE as a core political and media narrative of the COP. This will act as phase 1 of a 3-year global communication campaign that will peak at the next critical international political moment in 2018, mobilizing millions around the world to demonstrate their commitment to a 100% renewable energy future by leveraging the power of dance, street art, social media, public demonstration and filmmaking.
We envision bringing dance lovers of all ages, part of the Arab civic society, the international climate community and acclaimed artists to take part in a choreographed 100% RE flashmob with 200+ participants emerging in a key location of Marrakech. The creative media generated will be released the final week of negotiations, amplified by our vast network of strategic partners.

The climate change movement has failed to gain the traction it needs because it appeals almost exclusively to people’s intellects, focusing on feasibility, benefits and fearful data. However behavior science has proven that the most effective communication utilizes three approaches: logic, emotion and cooperation. Dance 100% marries these three approaches. The media generated will appeal to different stakeholder groups. By building an online self-organizing platform and partnering with networks with large followings, we will scale up for 2017 and 2018.  
This approach was successfully tested by the One Billion Rising movement. The campaign activated civic society in 211 countries and expanded activism towards ending violence against women. The dance-based movement building strategy became a catalyst for women to gain dignity and support, where participants and viewers felt a new level of empowerment in shifting the global cultural narrative. DWB produced a series of successful flashmobs and viral videos for OBR. Watch.

We envision the dance spectacle to be on November 13th in central Marrakech, in parallel to a High-Level event that afternoon which will be attended by Heads of Government, Mayors, youth delegations, grassroots climate leaders and Business CEOs. This dance spectacle will produce compelling visuals for the 100% RE message that will increase media pressure on COP22 negotiators to affirm a renewable energy future.

Next month I will be scouting and building relationships with potential allies in Marrakech. We look forward to collaborating on this project with many allies part of the Invoking the Pause circles during the months and years to come. We’re already exploring possibilities for collaboration at COP22 with the Sustain Us collective who are one of the 2016 grantees. The power of cross-pollination and cooperation is in motion.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have thoughts or ideas that could serve us dancing forward at