“This Poisoned Sea” — in the choreographers‘ words

Want to find out more about THIS POISONED SEA? Here the choreographers Claudia Alessi, Jack Ziesing and Eliza Sanders give you an insight into how they worked with the dancers, the ideas, and the text.

THIS POISONED SEA: performances
Thursday 27 – Sat 29 July 2017 at 7pm
+ 29 July at 2pm
Schools matinee Friday 28 July 10.30am


“In taking on this challenging topic, I turned to a personal experience for the starting point. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on both Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands which are off the far north coast of Western Australia. They are remote, rugged, beautiful, free and wild — I didn’t expect an introduction into the world of our consumer waste. On a visit to Dolly Beach, Christmas Island, I found that it was not only littered with ocean garbage, but the once well populated turtle breeding ground is under serious threat, made uninhabitable and unviable by the rubbish.

Leading you into a first-hand view is simple — it’s now up to you to decide how we collectively live, consume and clean up the waste we have produced, to ensure our oceans are free of the toxic rubbish made up of things we can really live without.

As always a work has a starting point but takes on it’s own shape and voice- this section of the work is no exception. I had from the onset decided this section would be presented in three chapters: ‘Flock, Searching, Landed.’

I’m inspired and moved by spirals and all that they represent in nature. A whirlpool is a moveable spiral that carries with it a life force of it’s own and I really wanted to represent this moving force in the work somehow. Bodies arrive into the whirlpool like rubbish accumulating in our ocean or how as consumers we’re drawn into the whirlpool of consuming and accumulating.

Having an interest in dance and physical theatre I wanted the cast to explore other avenues of physical expression alongside phrase material. I proposed a fixed one-dimensional viewpoint for them to present our consumer society in while delivering fun facts about produce and its degradable life span.

Adding their voice (literally) into the mix was an essential component to the work, as it provides not only a platform for youth voice but ownership into the work. I’m really pleased the cast took this on and recorded themselves with passion and commitment.”

Claudia Alessi, Choreographer

Jack Ziesing

“Upon first reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and seeing the Gustav Doré engravings, I was struck by how bleak and atmospheric the story was. The gothic nature of the tale inspired me to merge elements from the poem with modern day global issues to create a chaotic and volatile situation.

My creative process for A hellish thing involved creating an image bank. The images informed the choreography, composition and even costumes and props. As a dancer and choreographer I have always found images inspiring and useful for making and performing. I feel this approach has been enriching for the dancers of A hellish thing and has enabled them to embody the themes and ideas that we have explored.

I have a strong interest in how to make the static dynamic. My movement is often very gestural, drawing largely from visual art, literature, music, photography and film. I like to incorporate these mediums into my creative process, which I like to make very collaborative with my dancers.

While I enjoy directing the group, I believe it is important to give the performers creative control as well so they may be able to connect stronger with the work. I do this by giving a lot of task work to the dancers. I give them parameters to play in so that while they are trying to embody a certain idea or style, it is ultimately them making choices as to what happens within those structures.

Towards the end of a rehearsal process, when most of the choreography is set and in the bodies, I find it useful to discuss focus with the dancers. Focus on intuition, emotion, explosiveness and delicacy; exploration of feeling from the minute to the massive. I believe these aspects are important to talk about as we practice such a high level of physical awareness and can often disconnect the practice of mental and emotional awareness. I find this ultimately fuels a more fulfilling process and creates a greater sense of integrity.”

Jack Ziesing, Choreographer


“I first encountered the poem through a performance by British punk cabaret trio, The Tiger Lillies, at the Wellington Festival. I used their haunting, musical interpretation of the poem as a launch pad for my investigation. In much of my work I explore the use of live text in dance. We began by generating movement, responding to the rhythm of Coleridge’s words and exploring how we can move our bodies and voices in unison whilst reciting text. I was interested in giving each of the dancers their own voice, making sure each of them had a chance to represent how the poem resonates with them personally.

As an emerging choreographer, and recent member of Quantum Leap, I am grateful to be able to develop a professional relationship with QL2 with such strong support and understanding.

Throughout the rehearsal process, I worked with the dancers with the text to generate movement that I then shaped and pieced together. We experimented with different settings for their choreographic material to discover new interpretations and understandings of the poem.

The dancers mostly worked from the sound and rhythm of the words, and the composition of the work as a whole was a response to the thematic content. We explored the idea of a personal albatross and what it means to confront personal albatross’s and how the poem can speak to people over many generations without losing relevance or significance.”

Eliza Sanders, Choreographer

THIS POISONED SEA: performances
Thursday 27 – Sat 29 July 2017 at 7pm
+ 29 July at 2pm
Schools matinee Friday 28 July 10.30am

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About Gary

Gary is General Manager at QL2 Dance, previously General Manager at the Australian Choreographic Centre which developed the approach to youth dance programs which forms the core of QL2's work. He is a recovering computer programmer and live sound engineer. He discovered social dance through contemporary dance.