“WATER, water, everywhere/Nor any drop to drink” — may sound familiar to people who’ve studied Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” at school, but now QL2 Dance’s Quantum Leap Ensemble is using it to tackle urgent environmental questions.
The ensemble under artistic director Ruth Osborne has been working with West Australian choreographer Claudia Alessi, former QL2 member Jack Ziesing and another QL2 alumnus and choreographer, Eliza Sanders.
As well as their usual collaborators, Wild Bear film-makers and composer Adam Ventura, QL2 has brought in as dramaturg the former Canberra Youth Theatre director, Pip Buining, who has said: “At the heart of the poem lies a message of destruction – it is both thoughtless and intentional, conscious and unconscious…We must listen to the difficult stories in our world and allow these stories to change us.”
At a media call this morning (July 27), we caught up with Alessi, a lecturer at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, who told us that she had devised the central segment of “This Poisoned Sea”.
Alessi has a long standing relationship with QL2, having taken over STEPS Youth Dance Company in Perth from Osborne when she transferred to Canberra many years ago, as well is collaborating with QL2 on a show for a youth dance festival at Mandurah, WA.
She told “CityNews” she’d been able to use her holiday and Easter break to do intensive work to develop ideas with Buining. Once finished, she placed it in the hands of Osborne and the company’s rehearsal director until she returned to put the finishing touches to the work.
“In choreography there is a lot to say about words,” Alessi said. Alessi read “The Ancient Mariner” and looked at its symbolism.
“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot, or shooting down that albatross, putting ourselves in harm’s way,” she says.
In her segment she does have a male protagonist, but he is representative of humankind. And as for the great albatross, she has two dancers flying then being swallowed up by rubbish.
Alessi’s substantial segment was originally supposed to be the finale, as it “told more of a story”, but when they looked at all the segments together they realised that Ziesing’s segment looked more like a final note, so they swapped them around.
“If you came to the show not knowing the message, you’d get it,” she said. “CityNews” did.
“This Poisoned Sea,” Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. Bookings to canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 62752700.