FRINGE REVIEW – Our Oceans are Drowning / This is Not a Dance


This show is actually two separate performances in one sitting.

The first 20 minutes is a dance performance by Rosalind Masson, a staple dancer in the Scottish contemporary scene, about climate change and its effect on the Earth.

Initially there isn’t music; just a menacing, echoing din fills the venue. A sea of littered plastic cups decorates a dark stage. The fluidity in the dancer’s movements is broken; the lines she creates with her body are stark and angular. As she dances, the cups are increasingly dispersed across the stage, and the din changes to clips of people speaking about climate change and the environment.

Her expression is impassive and her movements turn robotic as she mimics familiar activities, void of emotion, under an unforgiving spotlight. Is this a consequence of climate change? Soon Rosalind Masson is picking up the cups gently to old world-reminiscent music, as if carefully rearranging the fragile pieces remaining from a life pre-climate change. Her movements become lighter as she nostalgically glides amongst the cups, seeped in sadness of the Earth’s struggle to survive as humans fight for limited natural resources.

Art combined with scientific discourse, the message is clear about the evils of climate change.

The second part is a 20-minute performance art piece by Louise Ahl, the “Ultimate Dancer”.  A Swedish-born, Berlin-based performer and choreographer, Louise Ahl brings absurdist performance art to Dance Base. Turning the audience’s perception of traditional dance on its head, the Ultimate Dancer is more like the Ultimate Anti-Dance Performance Artist.

Audience members aren’t sure to laugh or to maintain a stoic silence as she moves in seemingly ungainly, uncoordinated, undefined movements around the stage area. In point of fact, the Ultimate Dancer is “recycling” movements from random Youtube clips to famous contemporary choreographies. Thus she remains steadfast to her Manifesto, which includes statements such as, “yes to a body freed from a readable movement vocabulary… yes to re-established authorships”. The words “THIS IS NOT A DANCE” are written on the floor, only to have “NOT A” removed by the 80’s-styled Ultimate Dancer by spitting and licking the floor.

The Ultimate Dancer makes a point of creating a dance of her own: partially a comical performance, partially a defiant anti-institutional performance.

By Ingrida Dornbrook

13-21 August, not 15 August, times vary @ Dance Base – National Centre for Dance

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