How church officials, a modern dance troupe, artists and musicians came together to bring awareness to climate change as it affects bodies and land

Give earth a dance.

Two churches, a local modern dance troupe and an array of guest artists and speakers have come together to create a weeklong, environment-themed performance event, “Body And Land: Exhibition For Eco-Justice.”.

The event, which begins Saturday, was over a year in the making and is anchored by dance performances from the Middletown-based Ekklesias Contemporary Ballet and an immersive visual art experience designed by Stephen Proctor. It is scored to music by Vivaldi and accented by different talks or readings nightly throughout the nine-performance run at Hartford’s Christ Church Cathedral at 45 Church St., recently renovated to be more of a performance-friendly space.

“It’s kind of amazing. It’s hard to put into words,” says Rev. Mary Barnett of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Middletown, who co-organized “Body and Land” with the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell and Ekklesia artistic director Elisa Schroth. Barnett, who had her own experimental dance troupe in the New Haven area in the 1980s and ’90s, applied for the $22,000 Creation Care national grant from the Episcopal Church that made “Body and Land” possible.

Barnett notes that the Church of the Holy Trinity has strongly embraced environmental issues, including a promise to “take care of creation” that has been added to baptismal ceremonies. The church also provides the Ekklesia troupe with a studio space, so they were the first artists enlisted for the project. Schroth brought the environmental visual artist Proctor on board.

Ekklesia’s dance piece, performed every day of the run except Tuesday, fills 15 minutes of each hour-long performance. Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” is utilized to “look at climate change through a seasonal lens,” Barnett says. There are also contributions by composer Scott Simonelli and poet Kwamena Blankson.

The entire week, Barnett says, uses the arts, especially dance, “to help raise awareness of a serious topic in a way that can move people. This is about climate change as it affects our bodies, as well as bodies of land. We’re pulling together every art medium to really [bring] awareness and also celebrate the environment.”

Among the events unique to each performance:

Saturday and Sunday at 7 pm: Theologian Ellen Davis.

June 6 at 7 pm: A monologue presented by Hartford Stage, directed by Zoë Golub-Sass.

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June 7 at 7 pm: Music from Cuatro Puntos and guest speaker Sam Fuller.

June 8 at 7 pm: A “Dialogue on Intersection of Social/Racial Justice and Creation Care” with Canon Ranjit Mathews and the ECCT Racial, Justice, Healing and Reconciliation Network.

June 9 at 7 pm: Cathedral music and poetry by Dr. Lindsay Rockwell.

The June 10 performance at 7 pm and June 11 student matinee at 2 pm and 6 pm performance have no extra elements announced besides the dance and art.

On June 12 at 10 am, there’s a closing Eucharist ceremony with the Barnett and the Howell as celebrants as well as guest preacher Rev. Stephanie Johnson.

Admission is free to all the performances. For more information and to register for free tickets, go to cccathedral.org.

Christopher Arnott can be reached at carnott@courant.com,

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