Move With Us

Why do the monarch butterflies need us to “move” on their behalf?

The North American Monarch butterfly population is in severe decline:

These graceful, delicately-winged, orange and black fixtures of summer gardens, prairies, and meadows are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. The 2012 monarch butterfly census was “the smallest recorded since the monarch colonies came to the attention of scientists in 1975” (Taylor). On March 13th, 2013, The World Wildlife Fund-Mexico/Telcel Alliance and Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) announced that the number of hectares occupied by the monarch colonies which overwinter in the oyamel forests of Mexico had declined “almost 59% from the area occupied the previous winter” (NY Times).

Why are monarch butterflies important?

The monarchs journey from Canada to the United States to Mexico and back again each year in what has been called “the most amazing migratory phenomenon in nature” (National Geographic).

In addition to our fascination with this beautiful species and their migration, monarchs also perform an almost-hidden function necessary to life on Earth—and their disappearance is nature’s alarm bell. Ecologist Orley “Chip” Taylor, University of Kansas professor and director of Monarch Watch, calls butterflies and other pollinators (including bees, hummingbirds, moths, flies, and bats) critical “vectors of life.” They fulfill fundamental roles in the cycle of plant reproduction. The flourishing of these species is linked to the health and survival not only of plant species, but of every animal that depends on those plants in order to live (Pollinator Webinar, 2013). The activities of pollinators affect “approximately 75 percent of the crop plants grown worldwide for food, fiber, beverages, condiments, spices, and medicines” (NRCS). Hence, the fate of pollinators is inexorably linked to our own. 

Find out more by visiting our the website of our partner, Monarch Watch: http://www.monarchwatch.org 

Tiny Dancers: Bees and Butterflies

From the graceful movements of a monarch as it flies to the so-called “waggle dance” (a form of communication) among bees to indicate food sources, pollinators are some of the world’s best dancers. The detailed choreographies they perform are essential to the biodiversity and stability of the planet.

Why use dance to address this ecological issue?

The process of pollination is a dance. In fact, it is the dance of life.

As pollinators spin from flower to flower, their intricate movements and flight patterns resemble choreography. Likewise, dance imagery often draws inspiration from these creatures. From classical ballets to Native American traditional dances, butterflies appear throughout the spectrum of humankind’s dances. Furthermore, the focus of the project is to get audiences literally “moving for monarchs”—both dancing and digging their hands into the dirt in order to plant pollinator friendly (meaning nectar producing, rather than ornamental) flower gardens.

"In Flight," Vetter-Drusch jumps over an orange variety of milkweed and other prairie flowers that support monarchs and other pollinators. Photo by Jaime Schirmer for Moving for Monarchs
“In Flight,” Vetter-Drusch jumps over an orange variety of milkweed and other prairie flowers that support monarchs and other pollinators. Photo by Jaime Schirmer for Moving for Monarchs

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