Three Questions With: A Dance Master

Climate change may not seem like a natural topic for a dance company, but don’t tell that to Heidi Duckler. The dance festival she is organizing this week, Ebb & Flow: Chinatown, addresses the subject. It takes place at Los Angeles State Historic Park from 1-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 1.

The free event will include dance workshops for all ages and abilities, along with site-specific performances that will take place around a 15-foot steel fish designed by architect Alex Ward.

Duckler, whose long-running Heidi Duckler Dance company is now headquartered in the Bendix Building in the Fashion District, spoke about Ebb & Flow with Los Angeles Downtown News.

Los Angeles Downtown News: Why did you select Chinatown and Los Angeles State Historic Park for the festival?

Heidi Duckler: We have done several performances in Chinatown in the past and I really have an affection for Chinatown and George Yu at the Chinatown Business Improvement District. He has been a wonderful friend and resource and a real advocate for the company.

We really enjoy the nature of creating and producing a festival and also bringing people to places that they may not know about. This is a new state park that deserves attention. It’s a place of beauty with sweeping bridges and new plantings. It’s a wonderful place to explore right by the L.A. River.

Q: How do you address climate change through dance?

A: The festival centers around a 15-foot steel fish. The focus of the sculpture is really to get people to become aware and to think about climate change and to explore what kind of impact we have on our environment.

The fish has been quite active and swimming around the city. It’s been to Marsh Park, Pershing Square and Grand Park. We’ve seen such a wide range of performances and expressions that help people think of our world. First it was the drought and now it’s kind of expanded to sustainability as we think of our health and our footprint.

Q: Heidi Duckler Dance is known for site-specific works in unusual spaces, and you have a new piece, “Further,” at the festival. How does it use the park?

A: The performance has original music created by a really talented woman who goes under the name Drum and Lace. I met her when she was doing a performance at the Central Library in Downtown and her music is so unusual and quite beautiful. She plays the music live and uses field recordings — birds, insects and things that we will find in a park — which I thought was pretty apropos for the venue. 

Ebb and Flow: Chinatown takes place on Saturday, June 1, at Los Angeles State Historic Park, at 1245 N. Spring St. Additional information is at

©Los Angeles Downtown News 2019