From the Director

“I cannot imagine a world in which monarchs are no longer dancing, in which children cannot have the kind of experience I had [growing up]. Now to raise awareness of their plight, I dance for them.”Gwynedd Vetter-Drusch, Director of “Moving for Monarchs.”

A Letter From the Director

Dances with Butterflies:  Where the Dance Began for Me

As a child growing up in rural Iowa, I loved to roam our fourth generation family farmland. One of my favorite places to play was a seven-acre pasture full of lush grasses and prairie plants that has never been tilled. Among these tall grasses I could nearly disappear, finding myself no longer in a world of people and cars, but in a world of animal trails and rabbit holes and my own imagination. This pasture still sits on the edge of town, just across from a cemetery.

During the hours I spent outside in the summertime, I was almost always in the company of a few monarch butterflies who, I later learned, were there to feed and lay eggs on the milkweed growing abundantly in our pasture. But to me, they seemed to be present as my guides, leading me from a thicket of bushes at the fence line out into the open spaces where they would coyly disappear among the grasses. If I followed I was likely to discover flowers or other “treasure.”

One day I noticed that dozens of monarchs were streaming across the road from the pasture to the cemetery and back again. Like any curious child in search of an adventure and drawn in by the mystery of this deliberate procession, I followed them.

As I walked down a row between the largest old trees in the cemetery, I realized that though no strong Midwestern winds stirred them, the leaves on the trees toward the far end were shifting and moving. Coming closer, I discovered the most amazing treasure I had yet to find in my explorations.

The “leaves” were actually butterflies, butterflies turning the branches a rusty orange. A large group had quietly gathered, hundreds of monarchs. If I walked among them or gently moved a low-hanging branch, the world would explode in fluttering orange as the monarchs danced around me.

This encounter has profoundly defined who I am, shaping my work as a dancer and performing artist–and human being. In order to attempt to explain what the monarchs have taught me, I must dance, dance their dance as best I can.

I cannot imagine a world in which monarchs are no longer dancing, in which children cannot have the kind of experience I had.

Throughout the course of the last year I have heard the stories that people tell of their own encounters with monarchs and other pollinators–hummingbirds, bees and other butterflies–and I know that I am not alone in witnessing this profound and joyous “dance of life.”

Now to raise awareness of our pollinators’ plight, I dance for them. I hope you, too, will join me in “moving for monarchs.” 

On behalf of the butterflies,

Gwynedd Vetter-Drusch, Director of Moving for Monarchs