SBVC Fosters Conservation Through Dance

Wherever the vast 1,300-pound solid steel fish in residence goes, it spawns a great sense of urgency about the weather, global warming, drought and environmental preservation.

FishEyes sure gets around, spanning 15 feet long and ten feet tall at the tail. It is now ready to make its splash debut in safe habitat in front of the Clara & Allen Gresham Art Gallery at San Bernardino Valley College.

The Fish also serves as an important anchor for dance activism around issues of extreme climate concerns for all those that swim with it, on it, inside of it, and on top of it.


On Friday, October 27, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre will hold its site-specific dance workshops for Valley College dance program students. It is the first time the 30-year-old company is performing in San Bernardino.

Water conservation and the threat of a hotter planet is all part of the confluence of movement around the interactive public art display. Free and open for all, the event will activate dialogue on California environmental issues. It runs from 6:00–7:00 p.m., located at 701 South Mount Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino.

San Bernardino Valley College dance students, under adjunct dance professor Maura Townsend, will showcase their rendition around the fish for an inspired pre-show performance, followed up by the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre performers.

“It’s very important for SBVC students to be in the loop for projects like this,” says adjunct professor Maura Townsend. “Here in the Inland Empire we often get passed over. It’s my goal to put our Dance department on the map to be included in these types of dance grants. They bring exposure to contemporary ideas and allows the opportunity for critical thinking in the arts.”

In 2015, the FishEyes public art sculpture emerged through creative collaborations with Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, architect Alex Ward, and LA Opera Technical Director Jeff Kleeman. The goal was to give the community a traveling centerpiece, open for performances around multiple venues in Los Angeles and San Pedro.

Khayla Golucke, the community engagement manager, is organizing the workshops for the FishEyes performance. She said the project is a close collaboration between community participants, San Bernardino Valley College dancers, and the Heidi Duckler Theatre core company dancers.

When the Fish isn’t traveling to get its larger message across, it is always on public display at Los Angeles parks for observation and to help open the local mind’s eye to global impact.

“We have a 90-minute workshop curriculum, teaching artists and helping students and participants create their own movement that tells the story that connects to the environment,” Golucke said.

The other big part of the project is the instruction on choreographing environmental themes. By the end of the workshops, there will be a free public performance with the community invited to enjoy the sites and sounds on the fish.

“Our performers will be doing a duet on the fish after the pre-show,” Golucke said, “We do climb all over it, move around it, lay on it, and cling off of it.”

Heidi Duckler, the artistic director and founder of Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, said it is an exciting opportunity to work directly with the students.

“It’s the perfect place to create work on our fish and the perfect place to talk about climate change. The campus has a history of looking at the human impact on our world and we are excited to be a part of that conversation through the arts,” she said.