Red Apples. Green Apples, a climate change project

17 Mar 2017 - 15:15

Project team members front row, (L-R) Erica Mare (undergraduate student), Jamie-Lee Jansen (postgraduate student), Liesl Hartman (Principal of Peter Clark Art Centre), Professor Karen Vedel (University of Copenhagen). Back row: Lisa Wilson (UCT), Dr. Gerard Samuel (UCT), Professor Charlotte Svendler-Nielsen (University of Copenhagen), Anu Rajala, Peter Vadim and  Fabian Hartzenberg.

Why is climate change occurring? What will be the effects on the human population over time? What can we do to preserve our natural environment? These are some of the environmental conservation questions currently being debated. In March, UCT School of Dance hosted an innovative arts education project titled ‘Red Apples, Green Apples’ aimed at teaching school children about the effects of climate change and environmental issues using the media of dance, visual arts and design.  This initiative formed part of a collaborative research project involving the University of Cape Town, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the Peter Clarke Arts Centre. 
‘Red Apples, Green Apples’ involved students and staff members from UCT School of Dance along with colleagues from the University of Copenhagen who served as co-teachers and co-researchers. Participation in the event, which was held at the Peter Clarke Arts Centre in February, was free of charge for all learners. According to Dr. Gerard Samuel (director of the UCT School of Dance), the poetic title ‘Red apples, green apples’ was chosen in order to highlight difference and commonality for project participants. South African learners experienced the project during the summer months whilst the learners in Denmark will have their first encounter with the project in the fall of 2017. Participants were selected based on the Peter Clarke Arts Centre’s established network of local schools. Samuels says that the project garnered a great deal of interest from officials and teachers from the Western Cape Education Department, who may become involved in the future. The arts education event was followed by a seminar hosted at UCT on the 4th of March, featuring guest speakers Professor Karen Vedel (University of Copenhagen) and Charlotte Svendler-Nielsen (University of Copenhagen) in conversation with Dr. Samuel and Lisa Wilson from UCT School of Dance. 
“This project allowed us to investigate various pedagogic and performative questions such as the ways in which children learn differently when they engage with dance and the body. We wanted to understand how new knowledge around climate change and the environment is produced and by whom as well as how choreographic principles can be applied in children’s integrated art work, given that some children have limited exposure to notions of dance and design,” says Samuels.

He says that the engagement with the small group of South African scholars constitutes the first phase of a longer-term project that will include Danish school children in 2017, with the view to developing new pedagogic models for Dance and Visual Arts education. The ‘Red Apples, Green Apples’ arts education project was made possible thanks to generous support received from the Danish Cultural Institute.