Rob & Jame's Update:
Jame has been working on conceptualizing the structure of the dance pieces. She’s decided to choreograph three vignettes that are based on the different environments birds can encounter, a natural setting, the streets of Brooklyn, and at an airport. Here’s what she’s envisioning for the first piece:
In the woods
Here we have a natural setting like a forest with a brook running through it. Birds would have to compete with other birds and other forest sounds but there wouldn’t be a significant change in the birdsong in order to communicate.
In this dance there will be several male dancers trying to win the attention of female dancers by dancing solos. While there is competition between the men they are the main focus. The piece will conclude with a couples forming and partner dancing. She’s decided to use a mellow cha-cha for this piece to represent the mellow but lively forest.
For an example from the natural pine forests of Belize, male Red-capped Manakins (Ceratopipra mentalis) gather in locations called leks to display for potential mates. Lekking behavior can be seen in a variety of taxa, including flies and wasps. Another well-known group of birds that gather display in leks is Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the Western US.
View the video below to see some excellent footage of the Red-capped Manakin displaying at its lek: