Courtesy Photo

Ocean Trilogy at SBMM

Program of Dance and Science

Fusing contemporary dance and ocean conservation education may seem unusual, but SpectorDance Company’s founder and artistic director, Fran Spector Atkins, sees it as a natural pairing. “By merging information with the emotional and visceral capacity of dance, we are able to reach people not just through their heads but also their hearts,” Atkins said.

From that point of view, the program Ocean Trilogy, a collaboration between SpectorDance and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute that’s coming to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum on September 14, makes perfect sense. The piece was created in 2010 with the goal of providing audiences with a multifaceted approach to understanding our seas. For example, rather than simply learning about our watery world through infographics and statistics, the project supports educational information with art, giving the science three-dimensional expression. “There is an intellectual fatigue [that comes] with so much information,” Atkins explained, but in combining the whimsical flow of contemporary dance with spoken word, captivating images, and mesmerizing music, the audience can more readily witness the “health” of our ocean.

Although Atkins is no stranger to producing dance pieces that reflect community issues — for the past 20 years, she has been “exploring the creative potential in science” — Ocean Trilogy, which began as a children’s summer program, has evolved into something much larger than Atkins ever imagined. Still, this is how she sees dance expanding in the near future: the utilization of “dance and performance to communicate information in an innovative way that … brings people together around a shared experience [and becomes] a catalyst for conversation and community building.”

Ocean Trilogy takes place Thursday, September 14, 7 p.m., at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (113 Harbor Wy.). Call (805) 962-8404 or visit

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