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dancing in a hard place

Dancing in a Hard Place (2016) was produced at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe in response to exhibitions by artists Ellen Babcock and Cannupa Hanska Luger, whose works are concerned with the connections between human culture and earth. The evening-length performance was a procession of odes and poems to landscape, as well as sensual and cerebral pictures of humans and animals on earth. Slicked with nostalgia, this dance-dream communicated our wavering connection to a landscape, home, and self amid the global climate crisis.

How can we emotionally invest in the global climate crisis?

  • CONCEPTION & CO-DIRECTION by Sarah Ashkin and Micaela Gardner

  • CHOREOGRAPHY & PERFORMANCE by Sarah Ashkin, Micaela Gardner, Brittany Delany, Adam McKinney, Ehren Natay, Andy Primm, Sophia Rog, Paolo Speirn, and Spencer Toll

  • MUSIC COMPOSITION & PERFORMANCE by Ehren Kee Natay, Spencer Toll, and Andy Primm

  • PROJECTIONS by Alex Reid


  • CO-PRODUCED by Angie Rizzo

  • CREATED for/with the Center for the Contemporary Arts

  • PHOTOS by Angie Rizzo

Dancing in a Hard Place collaborator bios 

MICAELA GARDNER is a dancer, choreographer and native of the Southwest. Her focus has been solo live works, solo dance film and site dance. Her work is described as combining the expressionistic tradition of Ausdruckstanz, (German Expressionist Dance), with contemporary urban & modern dance - focused in form, story & musicality. She co-directed The Temescal Arts Center in Oakland for more than ten years, has been invited as guest artist to Middlebury College and Colgate University, and directed and performed in the dance films West Oakland Three and Dances Landward. Micaela is also an accomplished painter.

EHREN NATAY ​is a multi-media artist from Santa Fe, New Mexico and is a recognized member of the Navajo Nation. Ehren has toured and performed in venues across the US, playing drums for various groups in multiple genres. His work as an artist — silver-smithing, polychrome-pottery and 3D fabrication — has been collected by New Mexico Heritage Museums and at the Indian Arts Research Center.  His exhibitions span internationally, through galleries, museums, public installations, and site-specific theatrical performances. His current work further infuses his musical craft with visual aesthetics via live-performance.  He continues to impact the youth as an arts educator in New Mexico public schools and among Native American communities across the nation. He has worked with GROUND SERIES since 2013.


ANDY PRIMM is a musician, director, videographer, and educator working and living in Santa Fe, NM.

SOPHIA ROG is a Dance Artist and Licensed Massage Therapist based in Santa Fe NM. She has studied with Nancy Stark Smith, Martin Keogh, Jane Hawley, and with the intelligence and direction of her own inquiring body-mind. She is certified in Movement Fundamentals: Liberating Practices for Dance in Life and Art, graduated from New Mexico Academy for the Healing Arts, and is a collaborating and performing member of GROUND SERIES dance collective. She is delighted to exist as a moving body in this moving earth.

SPENCER TOLL is a native of Santa Fe, where he kindled a love for dance starting at the age of eight. He went on to receive a BFA in dance from the University of Arizona and spent the following two years performing with two contemporary dance companies—first with John J Zullo/Raw Movement in New York and second with Ate9 dANCEcOMPANY in Los Angeles. Spencer is an accomplished  DJ and composer of electronic music with his music project Spoolius.

ALEX REID is a Santa Fe based performer. He is a member of the International Shakespeare Center repertory company and also regularly appears at Meow Wolf.

ANGIE RIZZO's diverse background in the arts includes curatorial, administration, education, conservation and an active personal practice. Angie has participated in the Getty Multicultural Internship Program, the Babayan Culture Housel Art Residency program (Cappadocia, Turkey) and Art Conservation de Rigueur (San Francisco, CA). Rizzo’s professional experience includes Saint Elmo Village, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), The Community Arts Partnership, and Machine Project. In 2012, she co-founded SuperLow Gallery, an alternative artist space and gallery in San Francisco that presented local artists and encouraged exploration of residential spaces. Rizzo is a passionate supporter of the arts and dedicated to the growth of contemporary arts in the Santa Fe community.  She holds a BFA from CalArts (California Institute of the Arts).

accountability practice + partners

Dancing in a Hard Place was created through a mutual research practice grounded in past and present experiences of loss during the climate crisis. Collaborators for this work compiled and shared media  — from nature poems to land auction reports to footage of oil tankers — to serve as inspiration for choreography. GROUND SERIES invited community members to join them in Open Studio Nights hosted by the Center for Contemporary Arts, in which artists shared their process and practice with participants, interpreting stories of lost water, bird songs, and crystal air.

land acknowledgement

Dancing in a Hard Place was created on Tewa Lands in Ogha Po'oge, White Shell Water Place, Santa Fe, NM. This work was made possible by the centuries of Indigenous leadership relating to land as a family member. 

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