Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Researching Horseshoe Crabs

In trying to deepen my understanding of horseshoe crabs, I've been digging into research. I've had the opportunity to talk with some very interesting scientists, educators, and advocates for these little critters.

Here are some of the fun and surprising things I've learned:

  • Female horseshoe crabs move straight out of the current and onto shore to build their nests and lay eggs. Male horseshoe crabs move out of the surf and continue onto a path that is parallel to the surf so  they can attach to a female. (With your two hands, create these pathways and find the moment where your body intersects.)
  • Horseshoe crabs are heavily effected by the moon and the tides.
  • North of North Carolina, horseshoe crabs spawn mid-May through mid-June. In Flordia, they are making babies year 'round.
  • A horseshoe crab mom can lay 20,000 eggs. And they're green!
  • Horseshoe crabs are the keystone species for migratory shore birds. These birds travel from South America into the Artic.
  • Horseshoe crabs have about 10 eyes, but only two act like eyes as we understand them. The other 8 are sensitive to light and are used for naviation.
  • Horseshoe crabs lose their shell and molt like a snake. Their soft body exits through the front of their shell.
  • They can live up to 20 years and are very tiny when they are young - smaller than a quarter!

Last week on Studio 360, Director Mike Leigh discussed how his research influenced his characters. He did not create his characters based upon the research, but allowed the research to exist and be present within the process. (Listen more here). This is how I envision my research. I don't think that my audience will see my dancers BEING horseshoe crabs, but in developing an understanding of their behavior and patterns, my dancers will have a deeper connection to ideas of sustainability, timelessness, community, and interconnectedness. I'm looking forward to seeing what evolves.

We're showing a work in progress at the February 6th InHale Performance Series! Get tickets tickets for InHale

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