Special Reports

Oil spill inspires dance

SARASOTA — When oil began spilling into the pristine Gulf of Mexico waters more than three months ago, Sarasota residents Courtney Smith and Leah Verier-Dunn got angry.

Then they got sad.

Now, they plan to dance — debuting a work inspired by the oil spill, “Slick,” at 8:30 p.m. Saturday on Siesta Beach.

The event is free to the public.

“Being bombarded with this stuff all over the news, every website you bring up has something about the oil slick,” said Smith. co-director of the Sarasota-based dance company Moving Ethos, which will perform “Slick.” “We felt like we needed to do something, but we just weren’t sure what.”

Dance became the answer when FOX’s hit show “So You Think You Can Dance” announced a National Dance Day for July 31, hoping the nation would come together and express themselves through movement.

“It was the perfect opportunity for us to create something meaningful,” Smith said.

The artistic piece depicts man’s impact on the fragile environment and the need to save our natural resources. Smith and Verier-Dunn, also co-director of Moving Ethos, hope it will reawaken residents to the environmental devastation in the Gulf.

“We want to reignite that flame in people,” Smith said.

The troupe hopes to spur a response that will make people want to stand up for their environment — to make things better for the future.

Performed on the sand and in the water, “Slick” features powerful contemporary music with lyrics that focus on the environment. They include Ben Harper’s “Excuse Me Mr.,” Trevor Hall’s “Proof of Destruction” and Imogen Heap’s “Earth.”

“It’s upbeat and it has such a positive message in the vein that we have a responsibility to go out there and make a change,” Smith said about the Imogen Heap tune.

That change can come in any form — volunteering for cleanups, donating money, using less fuel.

“We’re passionate about the environment,” Verier-Dunn said. “Though the oil spill is upsetting, it has opened up doors for artists to show what we do and to move people in a positive direction.”

Troupe members said Siesta Beach, Sarasota’s award-winning premiere coastal treasure, is the perfect setting for “Slick.”

“We want people to come up and enjoy and experience the art — and hopefully be inspired to take some more action,” Smith said.