Archive for Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Professional dancer to flutter through Kansas milkweed to help save butterflies

June 19, 2013


Professional ballet dancer Gwynedd Vetter-Drusch, 22, is about to leap from the pages of the New York Times Bestseller “Dancers Among Us” and into the gardens of Monarch Watch on Kansas University's West Campus.

Vetter-Drusch, featured in the 2012 picture-book chronicling dancers’ extraordinary stunts in ordinary settings, will be photographed Friday prancing through the Lawrence milkweed garden, dressed as a butterfly.

Vetter-Drusch will be promoting monarch preservation while shooting “Moving for Monarchs,” a short-film and photography project inspired by a call-to-action by KU professor and Monarch Watch director Chip Taylor.

Taylor, known nationally for his work with monarch butterflies, lamented the species’ recent decline in a March 2013 New York Times article, which caught Vetter-Drusch’s attention.

The Iowa-born dancer connected with the sentiment — remembering the orange and black butterfly from her childhood — and thought she could use her craft to help. She researched, recruited a photography crew and contacted Taylor to help facilitate her idea.

“It’s not often a 22-year-old has the ambition to take on this size of a project,” Taylor said. “When a young person has that much ambition, you listen.”

This is not the first time a film crew has set up shop at Monarch Watch. In 2009, Disney filmed “Wings of Life" for 14 days with Taylor. Later this year, a Japanese film company will come to Lawrence for a monarch project, as well.

Taylor says he hopes the “Moving for Monarchs” and other films will inspire others to make monarch habitat restoration a national priority.

“We can involve the public to make them realize the planet is changing really fast,” Taylor said.

The spectacle could not come at a better time, Taylor said. Vetter-Drusch will don her oversized monarch wings during 2013 National Pollinator Week, which is June 17 through 23. Butterflies are one of thousands of species being celebrated nationwide this week for their role in sustaining about 70 percent of earth’s vegetation.

“We need to take care of pollinators,” Taylor said. “They maintain us, so we have to maintain them.”

Taylor says the public can purchase and plant milkweed, the favorite foliage of monarch butterflies, to help the conservation effort.

After finishing in Lawrence, Taylor, Vetter-Drusch and her photography crew will move to film the monarchs Saturday at Kansas State University’s Konza Prairie in Manhattan.


Stephanie Weaver Kempersquash 10 months ago

I planted some butterfly milkweed in my garden soon after Earth Day, and they haven't grown at all. They are still alive, but in three months, have not noticeably increased in size. Mostly full sun, plenty of water, and everything else around them is thriving (black-eyed susans, fennel, zinias, echinacea, sunflowers). I wonder what I'm doing wrong...


blindrabbit 10 months ago

Better give her a can of bug spray with DEET, ticks and chiggers just waiting for this event. Without the spray she will be dancing to a different drummer a couple of hours after her performance is over.


oneflewover 10 months ago

I hope to God this is not what I have pictured in my head.


Paul_Cherubini 10 months ago

The Monarchs are actually doing fine…they were in swarming numbers along the New England coast last September: And in swarming numbers in the upper Midwest in 2010 & 2011: v=WJCnU7PB9to
 I will be filming swarms again late this summer in the upper Midwest. Why so many monarchs? Because billions of milkweed plants are STILL found in agricultural and roadside types of landscapes like these across Iowa and the upper Midwest:


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