Miami Multidisciplinary Performance Artists Take Aspen Ideas Climate by Storm

Written By Taima Hervas
April 11, 2024 at 6:28 PM

“Breaths of Care” (2024) by Smita Sen, on stage at Aspen Ideas: Climate summit. (Left to right) Amaris Cruz, Alexandra Sarabia and Liana Kleinman. Photograph Courtesy of Dan Bayer.

A personal and collective response to climate-caused grief in “Breaths of Care” by Smita Sen and the narrative prompt “What? What? What? What are We Waiting For?” in “Crisis and Echoes,” by Alexis Alleyne-Caputo were presented in a summit breakout room on the second day of Aspen: Ideas Climate, Miami 2024.


The first performance on day two at Aspen Ideas Climate 2024 Miami was “Breaths of Care,” an interdisciplinary performance with dance and video, by Smita Sen, focused on her personal journey of grief. To come to terms with her father’s death, she examined it in the larger frame of climate change, human health, and well-being. Sen explained, “‘Breaths of Care’ is a performance that expands upon grief, the idea of our collective climate future, thinking about grief not just in terms of my personal grief, from the death of my father in 2019 due to climate-induced respiratory disease, but also in terms of our collective grief. Our collective grief is only going to be mended by our collective care, and our climate future is only going to be possible with that collective care.”

Breaths of Care” (2024) by Smita Sen; Dancers (left to right) Amaris Cruz, Liana Kleinman, Alexandra Sarabia performing in front of Sen’s film, “This Porous Earth,” a part of her larger film series “Geology of Longing.” Photo Monica McGivern, courtesy of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and City of Miami Beach.

Sen is an artist known for her work with sculpture, dance-based performance, video, and advanced technology, who incorporates her research on how the body internalizes its environment and memories. “Breaths of Care” is a performance joined on stage with her video “Porous Earth,” part of a five-part series of films called “Geology of Longing,” each filmed at a different location where her father had studied as a Geologist. It had always been her hope to join all five films with performance, which she has been able to do now with the fifth film, “Breath of Care” for Aspen Ideas Climate, through the support of all the Aspen Climate arts activations by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs through its Arts Resilient 305 Initiative.

Three people sitting together, leaning into each other on a stage.

“Breaths of Care” (2024) by Smita Sen. Dancers collapse into each other in this tender rendering of climate-caused grief during the performance (left to right) Amaris Cruz, Liana Kleinman and Alexandra Sarabia. Photo Monica McGivern, courtesy of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and City of Miami Beach.

The performance of “Breath of Care” is centered on the lungs and breathing. Sen shared a look behind a performance moment, “I have them (the dancers) engaging in these gentle checks on one’s health. They check their pulse, and then they breathe together and they look down at their chest together, and there is this shared sense of where our well-being is, and that it’s a journey that the dancers go on individually and as well as an ensemble… “Breaths of Care” is not just about the anxiety about the climate future, but also about the tenderness with which we need to treat each other and the world around us.

Alexis Alleyne-Caputo presented “Crisis and Echoes” (2024) a multidisciplinary performance featuring video, spoken word, and dance. Solo dancer, Alessandra Greco, on stage at the Miami Beach Convention Center Hall C on March 12, 2024. Photo Monica McGivern, courtesy of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and City of Miami Beach.


Alexis Alleyne-Caputo, a Miami-based artist, anthropologist, filmmaker, researcher, social justice practitioner, poet, and writer, presented her multidisciplinary performance “Crisis and Echoes,” with integrated mediums of animation, poetry, film, spoken word, and dance, on Tuesday, March 12. Alleyne-Caputo wrote and recorded all her material in a narrative context and did the choreography. The soundtrack of the first dance performance was all natural sounds of the lived experience from nature. There was wind, rain, thunder, lightning, and wildfire with the backdrop video illuminating the dancer, Alessandra Greco, who seemed to become each of the palm trees blowing recklessly in high winds, desert sandstorms, then hurricanes, lightning and the loud painful crackling fire of living trees burning.

Alleyne-Caputo said she leans into her identity as an anthropologist, studying people and studying narrative, and emphasizes feeling and the ability to translate language. She knows her different mediums, including the dancers, she said she knows, “the capacity of each dancer, knows their body just as well as they do, and knows what they can translate for the specific visual imagery she uses. Greco is a dancer with a lot of fluidity in her body, with a lot of undulation, she is also an actress, so I worked her acting talent into the theatrical of building the piece.”

Harmony Jackson and Yolande Clark-Jackson. Photographed on stage at Aspen Ideas: Climate Miami, (left to right) are Yolande Clark-Jackson and Harmony Jackson, mother and daughter dance performers. Photo Monica McGivern, courtesy of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and City of Miami Beach.

The performances in “Crisis and Echoes” are interrelated dances, and in the second part Alleyne-Caputo made an intentional transition to animation, and explained, “I wanted it very deliberate, because I feel animation makes things cartoon-like, easy to digest, to simplify for those who aren’t literate about climate change.”

Performers Clark-Jackson and Harmony Jackson are mother and daughter, both climate activists and both very engaged in their community, and their performance is purposefully intergenerational. The two different generations of performers are also intentional, and Alleyne-Caputo asked, “if we aren’t present to teach and inform, how does the messaging get passed on? And to whom? There is something very important about that kinship, mother and daughter, families build, and communities build.”

Performer Clark-Jackson explained, “When I think about climate change, it’s just the indifference that sticks out to me… I think dance is about movement, and we want people to feel like they should move forward with doing something (against climate change).” Her daughter, Jackson added, “Something that sticks out to me is this phrase I learned in a sociology class…’ People see nature as separate from society, but society is inside of nature.’ I appreciate the opportunity to dance that out, to represent that on the stage… me and my mother, getting up there, putting together such a beautiful presentation…. maybe they (the audience) can identify with different generations on stage trying to represent this issue.”

Alleyne-Caputo later explained her intention, ”I truly believe that art is a form of activism, art is also education, and art is a form of social justice. All of us have different causes. So, I would say, are you living? – and this is something that I lean into – are you living for a cause or just because? “Crisis and Echoes” is a prompt to act. It’s a conversation. It’s a declaration. It’s a documentation. It’s an archive of what we’ve lived. You cannot force anyone to take action, you can only prompt them, which is – “What? What? What? What are we waiting for?,” (asked at the end of performance). I can’t answer that for you, I have given you a lot of evidence, I’ve given you what you live and that’s just a scratch of the surface of what’s to come, so what are we waiting for?” Alleyne-Caputo most pointedly asked.

Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs Director Marialaura Leslie looked back on the overall success of Miami’s Artists at Aspen Ideas: Climate Miami 2024, saying “Artists in Miami-Dade County have emerged as potent partners in creating a resilient place, demonstrating that the arts are integral to American communities and a powerful force for community building around social issues. Through our Arts Resilient 305 program, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs is proud to have partnered for a third year with the City of Miami Beach to engage the public in innovative ways through artistic interventions for the 2024 Aspen Ideas Conference.”

Artworks were presented by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs through its Arts Resilient 305 Initiative, made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, City of Miami Beach Mayor,City Commission, and City of Miami Beach Tourism and Culture Department’s Cultural Affairs Division.

READ PART 1 OF THIS SERIES HERE. is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music, and more. Don’t miss a story at

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