Phrases by Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes.
I too grew up with the ocean – weekends of candy treats melting off our mouths whereas a salty sting rose up our ankles. However all through my childhood I discovered that not everybody cared for the ocean like I did – each time we visited town seashores they reeked of leftovers from barbeques, cigarette butts, and warped aluminum cans. Indicators would warn to not take off your footwear to guard your toes from the glass shards. These days I barely made it to the water. And after that, I by no means wished to come back again.
After I first got here throughout director Amelia Nommensen’s work, I observed an equal consideration to the ocean and the our bodies on the shore who can work to make a distinction. Final month, I witnessed her third iteration of Upwelling, a multimedia efficiency using dance, poetry, and movie on the Convergence Arts Heart in San Jose, California.
Upon strolling into the area, it captures the aura of a coastal gallery one may discover alongside a footpath within the enchanting city of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Illuminated aquamarine jellyfish lanterns line the cabinets with small picket slabs engraved with the phrases “please preserve our seashores clear.” The intense partitions, the jugs of water at middle stage, and the cool white linens coordinate everybody’s entrance right into a form of meditation. Even the little ones who attend can settle into the sounds of the ocean and Nommensen’s mild pouring of water from one jar to the subsequent.
Two dancers, Annalise Constanz and Abigail Hinson, enter the stage conjoined like twin buoys hip-to-hip, rocking to the ocean’s calm undertows and the distant clanging of sails towards the masts of ships. Then emerges the eerie dissonance of whale calls, from miles aside uniting right into a symphonic lull. The dancers are joined by Nommensen and Erica Stivison, every of them lighting their lanterns and swaying them ahead and again just like the smooth blue caress of ebbtide. The 4 of them each collect as one and linger alone of their deep-sea undulations, just like the ceaseless evolution of kelp forests as every strand is pushed out and pulled again in. Collectively the quartet presents the picture of tossed sea glass beneath the waves, as if they’re the crystals of forgotten bottles sifting by a torn shore. However they train us by motion and prayer that our relationship to the ocean will be revitalised.
Constanz introduces us to the dance of sea foam, her ivory skirt parachuting just like the curl and break of incoming waves. Her toes rippling to the sounds of the rising tide, she is the ode to childhood, to enjoying within the surf. We hear a chime, the water a singing bowl of all the pieces we hope the ocean will be for us. “And but I swear I see blue skies / attempting to come out overhead / the practice strikes by / mild begins to replicate on the / water,” reads Nommensen’s poem in this system, a reminder that wherever one appears to be like – even when into the previous – there will be magnificence.
In the direction of the latter half of the work, a dancer manipulates a large puppet jellyfish over the viewers, tickling the tops of heads and the fingers of these curious to achieve out and contact. I sense a linkage now between land and sea, the linens airborne in every dancer’s hand just like the white caps we see once we squint arduous sufficient. “There should be mild someplace / for this to occur,” continues the poem.
Nommensen’s work urges the viewer that the ocean issues, and that we beach-comb to make gardens out of the sand but additionally to filter out what doesn’t belong. The marine soundtrack designed by Joe Krempetz guides us by each serene and energizing states, animating this unseen world with a powerful need to protect it.
Put up-performance, there’s a screening of Nommensen’s previous movie iterations of Upwelling, acquainted choreographies shot alongside the central California shoreline. (All of those seashores are referenced contained in the miniature flasks of sand distributed to attendees at the start of the efficiency). Ceramic sculptures of Nommensen’s grapefruit sailboats are additionally displayed, tokens of the earth using happy-go-lucky all through the unknowns of the ocean.
I’m drawn once more to Nommensen’s poem as a type of flight over a continent ravaged by local weather change, particularly its oceans which lately flooded Freeway 1 and nearly the whole lot of Pájaro Valley between Santa Cruz and Monterey earlier this yr. “The practice strikes and strikes / then involves a cease / waits / then begins in reverse.” Maybe the one method to make peace with our earth is to cease preventing the storm, await that interval of calm, then start slowly once more, in another way than earlier than.
Information about Upwelling and extra of Nommensen’s work will be discovered on her website: https://www.nommensendance.com/upwelling and her Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/upwelling_/ Header picture by Douglas Calalo Berry.