Posts Tagged ‘Howard Hall’


Introducing “Jalapeño”

September 24, 2012

In this video, we introduce a baby dolphin we call Jalapeño. She and her mother Notcho are both featured dancers in our upcoming film “Dolphin Dreams”.

Jalapeño and her mom, Notcho, are part of a group of Atlantic Spotted dolphins who have been instrumental to the development of my choreographic approach. Although this pod lives far from shore, they initiated a relationship with a few scientists and naturalists more than 30 years ago; and humans and dolphins continue to deepen this relationship today. I have returned for yearly rehearsals with these dolphins, who first inspired the initiation of the Dolphin Dance Project. As you see in the video, both humans and dolphins continue to learn  about how we can dance together.

The triple loop you see in the video is new for Jalapeño this year … it is also rather new for me. You haven’t seen such sustained interactions before partly because of the breath hold training that was required for me to achieve them. Jalapeño, on the other hand, has had to develop the coordination for and interest in sustaining an interaction with a human. Doing three loops together is an example of how, through years of observing each other and working together, we are developing a movement ‘‘language” that humans and dolphins can share to express our mutual interest in playing and making dance together.

Doing multiple loops with humans is clearly not a stereotyped reaction; not all dolphins engage us in this way, even when we are dancing and playing together. Jalapeño had to learn how to do this … most likely from following along with her mother the previous year. This is consistent with the scientific research of Richard Connor and others that have reported on wild dolphins learning specialized behaviors from their mothers. I wonder what new skills Jalapeño will have learned next year?

Jalapeño Dancing With Chisa

Jalapeño dances with Chisa, while momma, Notcho, watches.

Jalapeño’s mother, Notcho, was a youngster, about 4 years old – and with just a few spots – when she first met humans in the 1970s. Decades later, and now a mature mother with many, many spots, she brings her daughter to meet her human friends. It was a great privilege to be introduced to Jalapeño last year… incredibly heartwarming to see her growing up this year … and a joy to imagine how things may progress in the future.

Among the first humans Notcho met was Hardy Jones. A journalist and film-maker so dedicated to cetaceans he is known as ‘the Dolphin Defender’. We are very fortunate to have Hardy as a new advisor to our project. You can read more about Hardy’s discovery of Notcho’s pod – and much more about protecting dolphins – in his new book, “The Voice of the Dolphins”. (We recommend it.)

We endorse the work of Hardy Jones’ BlueVoice and other organizations that endeavor to protect dolphins and whales. Families like Notcho and Jalapeno’s are ripped apart when dolphins are hunted, killed as bycatch in fishing gear, or captured for aquariums. We hope that the attention our films bring to these amazing creatures inspires respect and protection for all wild dolphins and their habitats. To learn more about the threats that dolphins face and how to mitigate them, please visit our Protecting Dolphins page.

Thank you for your support of the Dolphin Dance Project.


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.