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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Robert Michael Oliver
Robert Michael Oliver, Ph.D., considers himself a Creativist. He has been involved in education and the performing arts in the Washington area since the 1980s. He, along with his wife, Elizabeth Bruce, and Jill Navarre, co-founded The Sanctuary Theatre in 1983. Since those fierce days in Columbia Heights, he has earned his doctorate in theater and performance studies from the University of Maryland, raised two wonderful children, and seen more theater over the five years he worked as a reviewer than he saw in the previous 30. He now co-directs the Sanctuary's Performing Knowledge Project. He has his first book of poetry, The Dark Diary: in 27 refracted moments, due for publication by Finishing Line Press later this year.


  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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