Artists Climate Collective Reflects On Environmental Justice Through Dance In New Film ‘Art To Action’

The Atlanta project cast of Darian Kane’s ‘All Eyes Forward’ as part of the Artists Climate Collective.

Noah Osuna

Between wildfires, hurricanes and rising shorelines, the impact of climate change affects us daily. The Artists Climate Collective is a nonprofit group uniting artists across North America in the fight against climate change. To this end, the Collective produced Art to Action, a film composed of dance, musical performance and spoken-word pieces evoking a variety of emotions and reactions to our changing climate.

The film includes a piece from Atlanta-based dancer and choreographer Darian Kane, and features dancers from all across the city, including artists from the Atlanta Ballet, Terminus Ballet Theatre and Immerse ATL. Kane joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes along with Atlanta Ballet colleague and choreographer Keaton Leier, Co-Founder of the Artists Climate Collective.

Leier shared the Collective’s philosophy of addressing climate through art, saying, “My other two co-founders and I see that the arts have such a unique power to change perspectives on the way people think about general issues, and so we thought the best way we could promote change and provoke awareness was to use our strengths, which is art and creation of dance, and bringing artists together to push the movement.”

Art to Action features six pieces, each coming from different locations across North America, and each addressing environmental issues from a unique perspective. “Not only are we including creations with just dance involved, but we have a lot of musical compositions that are new for this project, as well as live musicians included in pieces, and yes, there are premieres — I think five of the six pieces are all brand new pieces,” said Leier.

All Eyes Forward, Kane’s original piece, takes place in she and the Collective’s home base of Atlanta. She described it as a work that adapted to some unpredictable changes, appropriate given its subject matter. “It originally started as the idea of racing to claim this abandoned stadium that we were going to set the piece in, and day of filming, our location fell through and we ended up finding this other really, really beautiful location that was quite magical,” said Kane. “The more we got into the piece and had to deal with all of the nuances of the hectic day of filming, I arrived at this place of trying to convey the contrast between chaos and order and that struggle that exists not only in our own lives but in between nature and industrialism.”

The thematic concept found expression in the costumes worn by her dancers, some suggestive of nature, others of industry. “What would it look like if they were able to engage in a dialogue through movement to assess a specific piece of land that they were on at the time, and to negotiate who had the right to claim it?” mused Kane, recalling her creative process. Her dance piece was filmed with the help of videographer Noah Osuna, and scored by composer Gabriel Gaffney Smith.

Ticket sales from Art to Action will be donated directly to the three organizations ACC supports: The Sunrise Movement, a youth activist group pushing for climate policy change; Grid Alternatives, who develop and install clean energy technology in disadvantaged communities; and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, who fight deforestation around the globe.

“We just want to make people feel something different or new after watching these films and make them feel like they can do more. We want them to leave the experience feeling hopeful, not more guilty or more hopeless; hopeful about the future, and hopeful that people can make changes to improve the situation,” said Leier.

More information about Art to Action and tickets for streaming the film are available at