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.