Grant #553

Scarabic Serenade

October 2, 2023

The Humble Beetle Inspires an Ambitious Work of Art

Plenty of dance performances have found inspiration in the natural world. Think of Swan Lake or the bears and mice in The Nutcracker. But Julynn Wildman has to be the first choreographer to base her sequence of moves on the tremors of the . . . male rhinoceros beetle. Julynn is a dancer and teaching artist in Montana, and she and composer Jessi Harvey were selected for an artist residency grant at one of the Emlen Evolutionary Biology Lab at the University of Montana. She’s now choreographing a mixed chamber ensemble piece to premiere in the summer of 2024 that draws on the lab’s study of the beetle’s stridulatory “songs” and trembling “dancing.” 

“Classical music, concert dance, and laboratory sciences can feel inaccessible at times, each requiring unique prerequisite knowledge to appreciate what is being presented,” Julynn says. “Our collaboration demystifies all three, creating a whimsical triad of entry points for anyone within—or outside of—each discipline.” 

Our grant will help Julynn and Jessi cover the costs of costumes and props, including headpieces based on the beetle’s distinctive horns. We can’t wait to see their work come to life, and in the meantime, we’ll be thinking twice before we swat away a pesky insect!

Category: Art, Dance, Education, Nature, Performance, Science



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

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