Water world by Alessia Belsito-Riera
Footnote New Zealand Dance’s legacy precedes them. As Aotearoa New Zealand’s longest-running contemporary dance company, they bring cutting-edge and socially conscious performances to audiences across our country and beyond. Their newest endeavour, The Impossible Has Already Happened, will be no different.
Footnote has paired up with Canada’s MascallDance to explore the implications of our global climate crisis and underscore our natural resource management. The Impossible Has Already Happened is two nation’s narratives on water, its purpose, and its impact on our lives. While water is essential for our existence, sustaining, nourishing, and the foundation of life on this planet, water is also destructive, disruptive, and increasingly a crux of global politics and power.
Co-creators Claire O’Neil (NZ) and Jennifer Mascall (Canada) have spent hundreds of hours over Zoom consulting scientists, environmental activists, and elders to discuss social action, the environment, and water. “We want it to be relevant, immediate, and close to home”, Mascall urges. “How are we to endure what is coming ahead”? At the foundation of their study lies the question, “is it possible for abstract performance to lead to social action?”
In this 80-minute proscenium work, seven dancers tell seven stories in which their “movement makes a topography of water phenomenon”, and the stories told express cycles of water. The choreographers draw parallels between water and our flowing lives, stagnated situations, and presence of being. O’Neil explains that by “looking at water we can discover what it can teach us, not only as a reference to our own waters and their health but also as a collaborator. Water partners with land, and creates life but also disrupts, reshapes, and forges new boundaries that have redefined how humans interact with the environment”. In conjunction with lighting and set design by Marcus McShane and sound and AV devised by Jason Wright, this performance will be of the highest calibre.
Given recent events in New Zealand following Cyclone Gabrielle, O’Neil explains that the title The Impossible Has Already Happened was chosen “in 2020, before the pandemic, before the cyclones, before the floods. It feels potent, even timely yet also too close to the bone, so we are aware of this and know the work will impact differently than intended. However, the same issues around our conservation, human condition, and climate crisis remain in the foreground as the original starting of this collaborative journey.”
As the climate crisis intensifies, our relationship with water will grow more fraught. Though it will still be our lifeline, it will also flood our homes as the sea level rises, destroy our cities as storms magnify, and where it dries up it will become the site of leverage and control. This urgent performance has its world premiere season on the 18th of March at the Carterton Events Centre and the 21st of March at the Wellington Opera House.