Category Archives: Dance

Upcoming Interviews – Charles Truong

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I will be using hip hop dance as a catalyst for discussing human dependence on coal. I have scheduled an interview with Rebekah Kowal, Chair of the University of Iowa’s Dance Department, for March 23rd at 10:30am.

I decided to interview Professor Kowal because she is not only a dance professor, but a historian and researcher. You can find a feature of Professor Kowal on the University’s Research and Economic Development page here.

I will also be interviewing Jeff Chang, an infamous Asian American writer who has written about hip hop culture and its relation to social justice. I believe that both Professor Kowal and Jeff Chang are individuals that have made remarkable contributions to their fields and it is incredibly humbling to be able to speak with them soon.

Charles Truong’s Project Ideas

I have been seriously conflicted in regards to deciding what creative mode I will pursue for my CNP project. I am interested in writing spoken word poetry and song lyrics, because they have always been unchecked boxes on my bucket list. Being an English major, I have heard from numerous successful writers and poets throughout my time at the university. However, I never was able to truly engage in the art of performance-based writing.

I am also interested in performing a variation of “Dance Your PhD“, where I would be using b-boying (breakdancing) and elements of modern dance to tell a story about pollution in inner cities. I teach and perform dance regularly, so I’m not sure if this would challenge me in the same way that writing would. I acknowledge, however, that there have been countless spoken word pieces in the CNP alone – and even more reflecting on the grand theme of climate change – but there has been little in terms of representation through b-boying. I don’t even think it has ever been done. This could be a way of showcasing the dance I have devoted my life to and how it can tell stories and be relevant in the conversation about climate change.

Climate Connections: CNP Fellows Present on Dec. 3rd!


Join the Climate Narrative Project Fellows for their final presentations on Thursday, Dec. 3rd, at the Old Capitol Mall.

CGRER: Climate Narrative Project – Spring 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.24.44 AM Climate Narrative Project fellow Nick Fetty reviewed the spring 2015 Climate Narrative Project final event for the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research blog.

Here’s a clip:

Nick Fetty | May 9, 2015

Fellows with the spring 2015 Climate Narrative Project presented their works on Thursday night at Art Building West on the University of Iowa campus.

The Climate Narrative Project is “a special media arts initiative in the Office of Sustainability at the University of Iowa, designed to reach across academic disciplines and chronicle regenerative approaches to energy, food, agriculture, water and waste management, community planning and transportation.” Fellows participate in a semester-long graduate-level workshop where they developed ideas ranging from documentary films to dance performances. This semester the fellows focused on “regenerative agriculture, urban farming and food policy, with a special focus on schools.”

During Thursday night’s event – Urban Farms, Real Food, Edible Campus: An Evening of Film, Art, Dance and Storytelling – I was the first one to present with a documentary entitled “Soil Mate: It Takes A Teacher.” The film focused on Iowa City soil educator Scott Koepke and the influence he has had on children in the area. Koepke stresses with his students the importance of organic gardening techniques, composting, and healthy eating.

Anna Kilzer presented next with her project “Edible Campus: Beyond a Public Health Building” in which she laid out ideas for planting vegetables and other plants near the UI’s new College of Public Health building with the hope that the rest of the campus would eventual embrace this concept. Kilzer presented her project in the form of a monologue, describing what the UI’s campus would look like if it emulated edible campus models such as the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

“I can see Pawpaw trees and raspberry bushes outside McBride Hall stretching down the sidewalk like a corridor to Clinton street. The wind carries the aroma of basil, thyme and rosemary, as leafy greens reached out of raised beds with the gentle pokes of kale, spinach, and arugula. . Students swing in the Hammocks studying and napping between classes. And those famous writers at their workshop – they were meeting in the middle of rooted vegetables and walnut trees, bookended by pages of lettuce. Engineering students argue over the water irrigation system, as the math assistants measured the perfect amount of water to each vegetation. The PE students lounged on the chairs and benches designed by the 3D design students on display for the general public to enjoy. And down below, the Iowa River teems with life and as the boats cart the boxes of fresh veggies, and food carts and truck lined up with the fervency of filling sand bags–though this time, filling bags of real food from the Edible Campus to feed students, faculty and community members of Iowa City.”

Sophia Finster then took the stage for a dance performance entitled “The Dinner Party: Processed vs. Unprocessed Food.” The performance consisted of four dancers and their struggles to eat healthy unprocessed food when faced with the monetary constraints and the busy lifestyle of being a college student. The story was told through the medium of dance but also used statistics and facts about the environmental impact of processed foods.

“Forty percent of food grown, processed, and transported in the U.S. will never be consumed. Every year 60 million tons of food waste is generated in the U.S. and nearly 40 million tons of that goes to the landfill. Unprocessed food often has much less packaging than processed food and around 45% of our food system’s carbon emissions arises from the production of food that is never eaten. But that’s another conversation for another time. What’s really in our food, safely sealed up in crinkly bags and flashy boxes?”

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Audience members to the stage at the end of Sophia Finster’s performance to enjoy some locally- and -organically-grown produce. (Photo by Sarah Nagengast)

The night concluded with Bridget Fonseca and her project “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers: Women Farmers Respond,” a question and answer session between herself (an aspiring farmer) and four characters who played the role of real-life female farmers in the Iowa City area. Fonseca asked the farmers about monetary and other struggles they face to maintain a sustainable operation. At the end, she reflected on her project and reevaluated whether or not she wanted to pursue a career in farming.

“Over this journey, I’ve gained a new perspective on the realities of owning a far. It’s not as flexible [or] glamorous as I initially though. Farming is hard work and the answer is hot that we all have to become farmers to save the food system. What we need is more support for out farmers, for our environment, and for our health.”

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Climate Narrative Project fellow Bridget Fonseca presented her project “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Farmers: Women Farmers Respond.” (Photo by Nick Fetty)

The Climate Narrative Project is currently accepting applications for six fellows for the fall semester. Those interested in applying should contact UI writer-in-residence and workshop leader Jeff Biggers (jrbiggers[at]

Dancer Introductions


Dot grew up surrounded by backyard gardens and farmers markets. She was nourished by home-cooked family meals that hadn’t traveled far from farm to plate. Since her arrival in Iowa, she has cultivated a collection of cookbooks and continues to invest in local in-season produce. Dot comes from a primarily Scottish heritage and has enjoyed expanding her palate. She likes trying and learning to cook new cuisines.

Roll1_00000009Valeria grew up with homemade, store-bought, and restaurant meals. Coming from a latino heritage, most meals contained red meat, rice or pasta, and potatoes or vegetables. Although she prefers homemade food, Valeria’s busy lifestyle has kept her from learning in-depth cooking skills or their origins. After moving to Iowa, her life is even busier and often fueled by fast and easy food.

Roll1_00000002Raud grew up lucky to have a mother who is a fabulous Iranian cook, and who encouraged him to be open to trying a variety of foods. Traditional Iranian food is healthy, because it often contains much more unprocessed food than the typical midwest diet.  He began to learn more about the environment and focus on his fitness when he came to college. Now he has completely cut red meat out of his diet and rarely eats white meat. He’s not a full vegetarian yet because the BURGE meal plan has such poor vegetarian options.

Roll1_00000005Lindsey grew up in A family that bought directly from farmers market or farmers. Now that she is in college, she relies on her dining hall meal plan. This does not provide as much unprocessed food as farmers markets and farms. She is excited to have a kitchen next year so she can have more food options.


Dot and Valeria are now planted in their apartment, busy studying for classes as they await for Raud and Lindsey’s arrival to their upcoming dinner party. Naturally, they must decide what to eat.

***Lights come up and dance begins to Youth Lagoon’s 17***

I am super happy with how these photos turned out! I am currently working on an intro to the bio’s as Jeff has suggested to me.

Processed Vs. Unprocessed Commercial Script

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 1.38.47 AM Here’s a few shots from my rehearsal last Friday. And here’s my latest draft of the “Spotify commercial” script touting for extreme processed, and then unprocessed food.

“Busy, stressed, and have no time to cook? Why does this make your life so hard? BIG BOX is here to help make your life easier and healthier. Type II Diabetes is the  fastest growing health problem in the country and it is now “the norm” to be fat. But don’t worry; try our new and improved BIG BOX microwavable instant meals packed with healthy and natural unknown ingredients from unknown countries. They’re instant, quick, easy, and can even help you lose weight. Sugar-free, fat-free, carb-free, and full of delicious nutrients, fit for someone on the paleo diet, south beach diet, Mediterranean diet, or whatever diet is the next new fad. You’re psychologically licensed to eat it. Subscribe to your first 30 second instant BIG BOX meal today for only $9.99 (plus shipping and handling). We’ll even deliver right to your doorstep.”

—transition music—

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 1.36.49 AM“Processed food will make you fat. Processed food will shorten your life. Processed food will kill you. Processed and packaged food, a 1.25 trillion dollar industry, has sneaky chemicals and artificial flavorings. But it supposedly tastes good. Confused on what is the healthy, nutritious thing to eat? Come to your local farm and pick whole fresh food straight from the soil. It’s better for your health and is much more nutritious than packaged food. It’s better for the economy, because it keeps money in the state. Iowa imports almost 90% of it’s food. It’s also better for the community, because it brings people together and makes them more connected to and aware of their food. It’s lastly better for the environment because 20% of our carbon emissions are related to food, a large part of which is transportation.”

Still working on the second script a bit more.

May 7: Climate Narrative Project presents!


The Climate Narrative Project cordially invites you to:

Urban Farms, Real Food, Edible Campus: An Evening of Film, Art, Dance and Storytelling

Thursday, May 7, 7:30pm, 240 Arts Building West

Featuring Climate Narrative Project Fellows

Anna Kilzer: Edible Campus: Beyond a Public Health Building

Nick Fetty: Soil Mate: It Takes a Teacher

Sophia Finster: The Dinner Party: Processed vs. Unprocessed Food

Bridget Fonseca: Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers: Women Farmers Respond

As a special media arts initiative in the Office of Sustainability, and a partner with the Yale Climate Connections, the Climate Narrative Project seeks to reach across academic disciplines and galvanize new ways of chronicling regenerative approaches to energy, food, agriculture, community planning and transportation. Selected Fellows work with Writer-in-Residence Jeff Biggers on semester-long investigative projects, using visual arts, film, radio, theatre, dance, spoken word and creative writing mediums. During the Spring 2015 semester, Climate Narrative Project Fellows have explored regenerative agriculture, urban farming and food policy, with a special focus on schools. The Climate Narrative Project is an investigative initiative: What accounts for the gap between science and action on climate change, and what can we do more effectively to communicate informed stories and galvanize action?

Kraft-Heinz Merger: Carbon Footprint of Processed Foods

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 7.00.29 PM The recent merger of Kraft-Heinz brought together the juggernauts of processed food. So, as Sophia designs her dance of the clash of foods, what is the carbon footprint of such an unprocessed food giant and its huge market?

The Greenbiz website did a quick analysis and found “Kraft ranks near the bottom of the list in an industry that has a profound global footprint. According to a report by Climate Smart Business (PDF), “emissions from food distribution, processing, retail, and food services sectors combined are projected at nearly 1 million tons of CO2.”

Here’s a clip:

“In the company’s 10-K for 2014 (PDF), the term “sustainability” was not mentioned a single time. Also neglected was the term “climate change,” mentioned only twice. Within the entire 170-page report (PDF), two sections and a collective five paragraphs discussed the environment, with one section pertaining to environmental regulation and another to environmental laws.

Why Kraft has decided to abstain from listing climate change or environmental problem risk factors is unclear, especially considering two of Kraft’s notable competitors, Campbell’s Soup Company and ConAgra Foods, explicitly have done so.

According to the SEC’s website, a risk factor “includes information about the most significant risks that apply to the company or to its securities. Companies generally list the risk factors in order of their importance.”

In Campbell’s filing, it stated, “Adverse changes in the global climate or extreme weather conditions could adversely affect the company’s business or operations.”

Whereas ConAgra, listed as a direct competitor to Kraft by Yahoo Finance, stated, “In the event that such climate change has a negative effect on agricultural productivity, we may be subject to decreased availability or less favorable pricing for certain commodities that are necessary for our products, such as corn, wheat and potatoes.”