top of page
Home Grunge Banner.jpg
MFL - Logo Color Light.png

’Mates for Life’ aims to create a unique performing arts film series motivated by the natural phenomenon of species that mate for life, in this first film, the whooping crane. This intimate interpretation inspired by avian movement aims to engage both supporters of conservation and the arts, resulting in support to further their causes. 


Trailers + More
Watch Now


Jun 10, 2023

Aug 7, 2023

Sep 3, 2023

Oct 19-22, 2023

Nov 9-10, 2023



The whooping crane is the subject of this first film in the Mates for Life series. These birds, one of the largest in North America and one of 15 species of crane in the world, are a rare thing of beauty. They are considered endangered with a population of a little over 800. While this number is small, they have come a long way. In the 1940’s the population was around 20 birds total. With the help of some major conservation efforts in habitat conservation, captive breeding and reintroduction, the population is currently increasing by around 3% annually which means more of this beautiful species in the wild.

ICF Logo White.png

This project benefits the International Crane Foundation. Show your support for the whooping crane and make a gift today.



As humans, nature has inspired our arts and culture, since the beginning of time. Humans often attribute human behavior to cranes, after all they mate for life, stand nearly the same height as us and of course, they DANCE. Their courting rituals and other movements helped inspire choreography by Xavier Núñez. These two dancers (Olivia Duryea, Dylan Gutierrez), set in midwest tallgrass prairie aim to portray the beauty of the whooping crane in their natural habitat and inspire new audiences to observe the habitat of the whooping crane with the same urgency as a conservationist.

joffrey logo_full.png


Support performing arts with a gift to the Joffrey Ballet.

Mates for Life



Nearly 5 years ago, a simple connection between two seemingly unrelated worlds sparked an idea. In nature, some species mate for life. In ballet, two dancers come together, a pas de deux. Often these dancers partner for long portions of their career.


Nature, Inspired, Dance.

Mates for Life
was born.

Making something beautiful was only the beginning. With the whooping crane as our species inspiration, dancers from the Joffrey Ballet, and a seasoned production crew, we were in good hands. But, it felt like it could have a deeper meaning. 

After working with performing arts non-profits and conservation organizations for over a decade, Mates for Life Director, Tim Whalen saw an opportunity. An opportunity to inspire people beyond the reach that a traditional story would be able to touch. For years he told stories about conservation to conservationists and about ballet to lifelong fans. But it’s hard to make an impact when you are speaking to audiences that are already listening. 


Mates for Life is a unique intersection of art and nature with the ability to reach a broader audience that can spark conversations about specific conservation issues and direct them toward organizations who are doing amazing work to do so. In addition, to bring awareness to performing arts, one of humans oldest forms of artistic expression and one that can inspire creativity to audiences across the world.


A behind the scenes look at the process from early concepts and choreography to the planning and production to the final project with voices from key contributors to this one-of-a-kind project.

bottom of page