Photo by Takashi Yokoyama
Theresa Duhon, artistic director
of Sand and Sea
This evening-length work, of Sand and Sea, brings to stage the ocean shallows and intertidal zone and depicts a few of its many inhabitants. The interwoven portraits of these creatures emphasize the great variety of life in and around the ocean and, in the course of the evening, develop the underlying theme of humankind's destructive impact on this environment.
Each portrait of ocean life focuses on the distinct movement characteristics of that particular animal, as translated into modern dance. There are slow, regal sea turtles, a school of darting fish, serenely undulating jellyfish, and playful seals, as well as sea gulls flying, hovering, and diving. There are also two human characters appearing in the piece, as a couple at the beach. They perform in ballet shoes and in more of a ballet idiom, unlike the barefoot animal characters. The couple's duet reflects both our stereotype of the romantic setting of a beach and the typical pas de deux form. This duet will be divided into two sections, the first of which opens the piece and the second of which closes the piece, thus acting as bookends for this glimpse of life at the beach, framing it to emphasize that it is a human perspective.
This human admiration of ocean life and romanticized view of beaches is juxtaposed with the human toll on this very ecosystem. For example, the decrease in the number of fish and increase in the number of jellyfish in shallow waters (partly due to agricultural run-off, partly to global warming) is represented by the changing balance in the numbers of each of these characters over the course of the piece: one jellyfish and five fish at the beginning of the piece, then five jellyfish and one fish by the end of the piece. Another transition in the piece, from a mother/daughter seal duet to a later solo for the mother seal, does not show the death of the baby seal but suggests it by her absence, as well as by the sad strains of Barber's Adagio accompanying the solo. Throughout the piece there are many subtle reminders of the decline in these members of the ocean community of life, whose unique beauties are celebrated here.
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