2016 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Glacier: a climate change ballet’

Midway through Glacier: a climate change ballet, a lone dancer, Therese Gahl, glided onto the stage. Costumed in a vibrant blue tutu, her long legs and arms and their deep earth tones, she captured our attention with every move. Her short solo lingered long after she was gone.

sixteenThat piece, entitled “Meltwater”, resonated like a purple star in a universe of yellow, or in this case, a glacier of white, with streaks of grey: a dying world where the polar bear swims for its survival.

Choreographed by Diana Movius, with videography by Robin Bell and music by Max Richter, David Lang, and Andrew Thomas, Glacier: a climate change ballet is a gorgeously constructed and performed elegy to ice.

We are reminded of life, the water that flows from change, not only by Gahl’s beautifully performed solo, but by the entire ensemble of on pointe dancers: Sara Bradna, Daniel Cooke, Carrie Denyer, Kristen Jenkins, Anna Lipkin, and Diana Movius (Ashlea Glickstein). They tackle each of the rapidly flowing movements with precision and grace. Each piece reminding us of the eddies and currents of a disintegrating world.

Project behind the dancers, Robin Bell’s video of huge melting ice flows, with duplicated live action video of the dancers themelves interspersed within it, created a marvelously sensuous tapestry.

One particularly engrossing piece of footage, a close up of a polar bear, swimming through the sea, its white fur sparkling like an angel’s imaginary feathers, captured with symbolic beauty the one true protagonist in this drama for survival. Daniel Cooke’s “Polar Bear” solo put that hero’s role in clear relief.

Running Time: 45 minutes, with no intermission.

Glacier: a climate change ballet is playing through July 17, 2016 at the Lang Center for the Performing Arts – 1333 H Street NE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.

Read the preview of Glacier by Kevin O’Connell.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

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Poet, Performer, Theatre Artist, Playwright, Educator, Writer--Robert Michael Oliver, Ph.D., has been involved in the DC arts scene since the 1980s, when he co-founded The Sanctuary Theatre in the old sanctuary of Calvary United Methodist Church. Since those fierce days in Columbia Heights, he has earned his doctorate in theatre from University of Maryland, raised two wonderful children, and seen more theatre as a reviewer over the last two years than he saw in the previous thirty. He now co-directs, along with his wife Elizabeth Bruce, the Sanctuary's Performing Knowledge Project, which organizes a host of writing and performance workshops, plus Mementos: Poetry and Performance for Seniors, a yearly literature-in-performance Fringe Festival show, as well as Performetry--a monthly poetry and prose performance event at DC's community arts & culture center BloomBars.


  1. The dancing was good, but the sound system was far too loud. And the temperature in the Atlas encourages the survival of actual glaciers. If you go, bring a warm sweater — better yet, a winter coat — and earplugs.


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