Bodies of Ice

Dancers dressed in white perform 'Polarity' in Melbourne's Federation Square under dramatic lighting
Polarity being performed in Melbourne’s Federation Square in 2011. (Photo: Lucia Ondrusova)
Five dancers dressed in white to represent Antarctic ice against a background of icebergsSolo dancer performs 'Body of Ice' in Buenos Aires

'Antarctic ice is fragile, dynamic and alive. The journey of an ice form is continually transient. Layering, compressing, flowing, cracking, floating, crumbling, dissolving, freezing and reforming occurs at a molecular level and large scale. The diverse textures, qualities and forms of Antarctic ice are extraordinary. Seasonal cycles of ice see Antarctica double in size as it expands through fierce winter and contracts through summer. Snow forms in layers on the plateau and compresses, forming ice. Glaciers flow to the coast to form ice shelves that break as icebergs. Such cycles take thousands of years, yet are always in motion. Our bodies are made up of pure water that at some point has been Antarctic ice. We are a part of the ice as well as its signs of a changing climate.’

These program notes were written for my dance presentation, Polarity, inspired by my visit to Antarctica on an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship in 2010.

Polarity and Body of Ice are dance works I directed, choreographed and recently performed, that explore the movement and nature of Antarctic ice.

I was the first dance artist ever awarded an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship and I travelled to

Antarctica for several weeks in 2010 for creative research to develop my work. I spent time at Davis and Mawson stations and although only there a short time, I connected with the ice in many ways. I explored how the shapes and layers of an ice structure reveal its movement history; the many processes of action and reaction that created its current, yet continually changing form. I collected a vast range of movement and choreographic stimulus, ice imagery, visual and written responses, and sensory impressions.

My diary read: ‘I am full of awe, wonder and passion. The ice lives and breathes. Beautiful, severe, natural. Delicate fluidity, rock hard strength. Staggering.’

I researched the different ice types and their extreme diversity, composition and nature. I looked at ice cycles and ice behaviour as well as signs of climate change. I reflected on the human body and its water content and how this connects us directly to Antarctic ice. I serendipitously met sound artist Philip Samartzis on the journey, whom I then collaborated with. The soundscapes used in my dances were born from the incredible raw, richly diverse and intricate sounds of Antarctic ice recorded by Philip in Antarctica.

My first presentation of Body of Ice was at the 2011 Antarctica Festival and Conference in

Canberra. I worked with five dancers, and used projected ice imagery, vibrant lighting and the spectacular soundscapes of ice, to create a sensory representation of Antarctic ice in motion.

Body of Ice was developed into the full length work, Polarity, performed at the 2011 Melbourne Fringe Festival on a large rooftop space surrounded by the city at Federation Square. The presentation integrated the cityscape, which reflected our impact on Antarctic icescapes -white bodies melting beneath the city lights. I received good media coverage, reviews and responses from the audience and it was fantastic to see it come together in this space after such a journey.

When I was invited to perform at the 2012 Antarctica Art and Culture Festival and Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I evolved Body of Ice into a solo piece. The set became white fabric and I depicted a full ice journey, from layering ice on the plateau to dissolving icebergs. I performed at the festival and also presented a talk on my work and met many international artists from diverse artistic disciplines.

Antarctica is the most spectacular, raw, powerful, fragile and extreme place on Earth and I believe that translating this into relevant art of today is truly necessary to connect Antarctica to the world. I plan to continually evolve my work and present again in 2013 and into the future.

For more information and videos see Tina's website.

Tina Evans
Australian Antarctic Arts Fellow, 2010