Posts Tagged ‘dolphin’


So Close 3D: Dance with Wild Dolphins

October 21, 2014

Come See Dolphin Dance in 3D

on The Big Screen in NYC!

Sunday, December 7th at noon and 2pm

Tickets HERE

We are excited to announce a unique opportunity to see our most recent 3D work projected in a big screen theater!

The program will include a pre-release preview of  Dolphin Dreams* shot by Emmy Award-winning underwater cinematographer Howard Hall with an original score by Grammy Award-winning composer and cellist David Darling.

We will also preview several short 3D films featuring our full cast of beautiful dolphin dancers: Kathleen Fisher, Yuki Kusachi, Jillian Rutledge and Kayoko Sawamura.

Several talented members of our ‘pod’ of NYC dancers – Carly Czach, Elise Knudson and Tim O’Donnell – will grace the stage for a live performance amongst virtual dolphins.

Let’s fill the house! One of the most valuable things you can do to support us right now is to share this event with anyone you think might enjoy the show.

The one hour program will be presented twice:


Sunday, December 7th
Screenings at NOON and 2 pm

SVA Theater
333 West 23rd Street

TICKETS are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. FREE for children under 16 when reserved in advance.

The Dolphin Dance Project works only with wild dolphins in the open ocean.  We follow a strict code of etiquette, and we never feed, train, or coerce dolphins in any way.  The dolphins’ paricipation is motivated only by curiosity and the joy of interacting with another intelligent species – just like the human dancers. Since dancing underwater is dangerous, the human dancers are highly trained.

*It’s not too late to support the finishing of “Dolphin Dreams”. Even if you can’t join us at this screening, for a donation of $50 or more, you will receive a DVD of the film, when it is completed. Donations can be made at checkout when you purchase your ticket, or at our website, where you can also see a full list of perks. Thank you!

Co-produced with Dance Films Association, with support from Artist as Citizen.



So Close 3D is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, as well as funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.


60 Seconds Dance

April 2, 2012

In the fall of 2011, we had the opportunity to do an extended rehearsal with some very talented dancers and free divers.  One of the main goals was to develop techniques and skills for the human dancers to move with each other underwater as gracefully and harmoniously as the dolphins do.  Here is one of our more successful exercises, presented as a 60 second screen dance (an out-of-competition offering in appreciation of the competition) since one minute is roughly the time we have to work together while we hold a single breath:

We were lucky to be working with a perfectly complimentary ensemble. Kathleen Fisher (previously featured in ‘Trio Corkscrew“) is an impeccably trained professional dancer with many years experience in the water, and a ‘natural’ at free diving. Jillian Rutledge, new to Dolphin Dance, is a trained free diver who is a ‘natural’ at the dance. Both have plenty of experience moving with wild dolphins in the ocean.

Perhaps, given all this experience, the surprising thing is that it took work and rehearsal to become coordinated! The dolphins make underwater coordination look effortless…but for the humans, it requires a real focused effort.

We worked not only on the technical aspects of diving and breath holding, but also on an approach to movement that honors an environment where the weight of our bodies is completely supported. We worked on expanding our peripheral vision and increasing our sensitivity to water flow on our skin, so we could ‘keep track’ of our fellow dancers, stay close to them, stay with them in their movement intentions. We danced on the beach, in the back yard of our rented apartment and of course, in the ocean. We regularly made 1 minute or longer dances that traversed a water column greater than 40 feet deep.

In some ways, it always felt as easeful and sensuous as it appears. But it is also a fact that no matter how warm the water, we were always freezing by the end of a rehearsal session. We were also often exhausted – working on limited oxygen can be profoundly tiring!

Just as important as the skills we honed was the development of our relationships. Working with an intention for ease, grace and harmony it felt very natural to develop a sweet camaraderie. I wonder if it is this way for the dolphins? They are always so gentle and generous with us. It is hard to resist imagining that the dolphins’ personalities may be shaped by their continuous practice of ease, grace and harmony in their every move.

We knew we had accomplished something when one day towards the end of our time together, as we made our long swim back to shore from rehearsing among ourselves in a bay where the dolphins had not appeared, we realized that we felt just as satisfied as if we had been dancing with the dolphins.

Chisa, Kathleen, Jilly

Chisa Hidaka, Kathleen Fisher, Jillian Rutledge; photo by Benjamin Harley

Posted by Chisa Hidaka


Thank You for Sharing the Dolphin Dance

December 15, 2011

We just returned from weeks of rehearsal with wild Pacific Spinner dolphins and wonderful dancers Jillian Rutledge, Dana Richardson and Gabriel Forestieri, new to the project, along with Kathleen Fisher, an old friend.

(you can also view this video on youtube)

In this ‘sneak peek’ from one of our rehearsals, the dolphin we know as CrossBite patiently gathers Jillian, Chisa, and Kathleen, and leads them in a slow spiral.  When Kathleen gestures and takes the lead, CrossBite follows her and guides the other two dancers to sustain the quartet’s lovely arc.

As the second year of the Dolphin Dance Project draws to a close, we are grateful for all the support and encouragement that has allowed us to achieve so much.  Our first film “Together: Dancing with Spinner Dolphins” has screened at more than 20 film festivals, pro-cetacean events and educational programs all over the globe. Our PSAs and other online clips have been viewed more than 50,000 times.  In the last six months, we organized more than six weeks of intensive training with several dancers … and thanks to the renown underwater filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall, we have amazing footage to share in our next short film.

With your continued support, we will be able to realize the potential of Howard’s stunning super high definition video to marvel audiences on giant IMAX screens.  Interest in and development of our feature length documentary will accelerate. Please consider a holiday donation to the Dolphin Dance Project this season.  Your contributions help build awareness about who wild dolphins are and transform how our societies appreciate and care for dolphins and their habitats around the world.

… and please continue to enjoy our work and spread the word!

In January 2012 (exact date TBA), “Together” will screen at the Artivist Film Festival in NYC. We’re also very pleased to announce that in 2012 it will be a part of Earth Island Institute’s children’s cetacean education program. We are always pleased to offer this film in support of pro-cetacean events and educational programs…please contact us if you would like to screen our film at yours.

Thank you for joining us in our work – by watching, by sharing, and through your generous donations of time, expertise, equipment and funds.

Thank you for all you do on behalf of dolphins and their habitats – for becoming educated about the issues, for informing friends, family, colleagues and others and for making even small changes in your own life. A special thanks to all the organizations and individuals who devote so much of their resources to protect our dolphin friends and all the creatures of the ocean.

Most of all, we are deeply grateful to the dolphins for their inspiration and generosity. It is an absolute privilege to honor them through our work.  We would like to share our wish for the well-being of all dolphins and cetaceans:  our endeavor is for them, and we hope that our films combine with the efforts of the many other individuals and organizations dedicated to the cause of increasing harmony between humans and cetaceans everywhere.

Best wishes for a joyful holiday season from the Dolphin Dance Project to you!

Chisa and Ben with two Atlantic Spotted dolphins. Photo by Michele Hall.


Was That Choreographed?

April 4, 2011

The Dolphin Dance Project is well embarked on developing its next film which will feature multiple human dancers.  We have been scouting for talented improvisers who can dance exquisitely underwater while maintaining relationships with dolphins and fellow humans at the same time.  We have been honored to be joined by some very talented dancers (and some very talented dolphins too) for practice sessions, and we look forward to more rehearsals in the coming months.

On a recent trip, we fortuitously met Matisha who has years of experience with wild dolphins, and a website of his own ( where he shares videos, music, and other inspirations he has received from these extraordinary fellow creatures.  Having met Matisha underwater, already in the company of dolphins, it was amazing to see – with almost no words exchanged – everyone naturally begin to dance together.

In this clip ‘Dolphin Choreography’, we see a beautiful set of changing relationships.  A dolphin leaves his pod, approaches a couple of human dancers, engages one of them, as the other human joins the ‘chorus’ of the pod.  Dolphins negotiate like this with each other all the time, understanding who wants to be with whom, joining in, separating, coming back.  But in this case, a dolphin invites the humans to participate.  It is a remarkable example of mutual understanding that these intuitive humans and (dare we say) ‘open minded’ dolphins can participate actively in this exchange.

(as always, this video will look better if you choose 720p and press the fullscreen button in the lower right hand corner, or watch on Vimeo – )

As dancers, the humans have trained their abilities to perceive and understand shifting relationships as they are expressed through movement.  This is one of the essential building blocks of human choreography.  In a sense, dolphins are natural choreographers – and dancers have the training to engage with them intelligently.  In future posts, we will look more closely at these parallels between human ‘terrestrial’ dance and the natural way dolphins communicate as they move together.

We are actively developing this work, but we still have a long ways to go to finance it.  Working hard writing grants, we know that many foundations are in difficult economic situations. Do you know any dolphin lovers who might consider supporting our work? We would be grateful for an introduction.

We have a number of ways to thank you for donations you make, including our new poster  (below)… you can see them all on our ‘Donate’ page.  For no cost at all, you can do a lot to help us expand the project by simply tweeting or facebook ‘liking’ our website or forwarding links to your friends.

As much as anything else, however, we value your appreciation.  Thank you for your continued interest in the Dolphin Dance Project.

Please check our website for a list of upcoming screenings of our first film “Together: Dancing With Spinner Dolphins” – there are two screenings in NYC in April, one in May, one in LA, CA in June …

Join the Pod

Just like dolphins invite us to join their pod, we invite you to join our company and help support the Dolphin Dance Project