Dancers Forest

The vision of art and environment in harmony

KiW has teamed-up with dance artist and teacher Adam Benjamin  in the Dancers Forest project. Our aim is to realise Adam's vision of harnessing the inspiration provided by the natural landscape to create dance, music, poetry and art. This may be for individual private meditation or small public performance. We will purchase and protect areas of land principally for nature but, each will have its own own pocket reserved for low-impact performance.
We will take our time to find the right locations but, when we do, they will be a resource for nature and a source of inspiration and entertainment for everyone.

The following are edited extracts from Adam's article "The Dancer’s Forest. From ‘dirty dancing’ toward environmental responsibility By Adam Benjamin". They encapsulate what Adam has set out to do and why. We at KiW are proud to be part of the project.

  • During the pandemic many of us moved our activities outdoors; to city parks and gardens, to the countryside, to moorlands and shore lines, in fact to whatever local outdoor space we were able to inhabit, it was a revelation to be practicing under trees and breathing fresh air . . . a more ecological practice. 
  • As dancers and dance companies we often measure our success by our touring and our national, international and even global reach . . . The impact on cultural exchange, on education and in many instances, of turning around individual lives can’t be over-estimated [but as a result Dance is a significant polluter within the entertainment industry]
  • In the past I have offset my own carbon footprint through supporting organisations who work with communities and reforestation projects around the world. Today there is a growing weight of opinion that merely offsetting our carbon footprint is actually just ‘off-setting’ or shifting the problem; that it allows us to carry on our polluting habits without doing what we really need to do, which is to reconsider and reconfigure our behaviours.
  • Vitally we need to provide the younger generation something to lift the spirits, something that will not only make a difference to the environment, but that will offer resistance and resilience in the face of the pandemic and alleviate the shadow it has cast over mental health and hope.  I’ve been thinking about how even socially distanced dancers might engage in more local, tangible activities in a way that will make sense of our practice as well as help safeguard the long-term future of the planet. This reflection gave birth to the idea of the Dancer’s Forest, to ‘seed’ pockets of forest (meaning outdoor wilderness space, not simply woodland) in our own regions; mini forests that act as carbon sinks and that offer not only spaces for wildlife, but also space for dancers and other artists to work out of doors.
  • It is easy to forget that in the not too distant past every village green across the breadth of the country had a dedicated outdoor dance space before they were erased, along with the hedgerows and wilderness of pre-industrial Britain. Easy to forget that diversity in dancing bodies represents a movement inseparable from ecology; that the principle of diversity is essential to our own survival.
  • [A discussion with Derek Gow has led to to the possibility of purchasing land around Coombeshead in Devon] that could be reforested and that might also contain a space for dance. This pilot project would be part of a wider initiative to secure sites elsewhere in the UK, each new location placing in trust an area of land to rewild (or preserve) that would harbour a low impact performance space. In effect dancers become the ‘custodians’ of each local wilderness, the land itself being held in perpetuity for future generations to enjoy. 
  • . . . once the model is established there is no reason that there should not be Musician’s Forests, Actor’s Forests, Poet’s Forests, Grandparent’s Forests; in essence an ever-growing network of ‘people owned’ spaces, providing wilderness stepping-stones and contributing to natural corridors across (and beyond) the UK.

 ​How it works

  • Like all good things, this will grow if you spread the word, so please talk to your friends, colleagues and students about the Dancer’s Forest. The Dancer’s Forest is aimed principally at individual dancers and dance students who want to make a change, who want to start now and who recognise that it is not enough to dance as ‘guests’ in nature, but that our dance footprint must make a bolder claim. We can no longer be satisfied with dances about climate change, or dances about deforestation we have to be the change or be accused by later generations of dancing while Rome (and a whole lot more) burns
  • Rewilding Coombeshead, already has accommodation and teaching spaces, and can provide a site for dissemination of information about management and rewilding for groups acquiring land and who want to develop their skills and knowledge. Joining the Dancer’s Forest project involves a small individual commitment; as little as £1.50 per month putting it  within range of the youngest of dancers. It’s a recognition of the fact that we all pollute, whether it is driving to the studio, lighting a piece of work or merely using a computer.  
  • Larger dance projects can nominate a ‘Green Champion’ to collects contributions and help think about how to monitor, manage and report on environmental impact; individual dance artists and students simply pledge £1.50 per month from their income, each of us becoming in this way, our own Green Champion.
  • The Dancer’s Forest project offers the dance community a meaningful way of repairing and preserving the land we live on, by re-establishing an environmentally responsible connection between dance, the land and the air we breathe.
  •  You can become part of this movement which is now being supported by The Community Dance Foundation by making a donation to the first Dancer’s Forest at Coombeshead in Devon. £1.50 per month or an annual donation of  £18.00 – more if you feel you can afford it! You don't need to be a professional dancer - we are all dancer's in our own way!
  • You can donate here:
  • We need to raise £20 000 to purchase our first 2 acres of land while we seek further sites across the UK and help dancers and interested groups internationally to seed similar forests in their own countries.
  • If you would like to be part of the guiding collective for The Dancer’s Forest or if you know of land close to you that you think might fit the bill for a future site, please get in touch.