Amelia Nommensen’s Upwelling makes the ocean matter

Phrases by Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes.

I too grew up with the ocean – weekends of candy treats melting off our mouths whereas a salty sting rose up our ankles. However all through my childhood I realized that not everybody cared for the ocean like I did – at any time when we visited town seashores they reeked of leftovers from barbeques, cigarette butts, and warped aluminum cans. Indicators would warn to not take off your footwear to guard your toes from the glass shards. These days I barely made it to the water. And after that, I by no means wished to come back again. 

After I first got here throughout director Amelia Nommensen’s work, I observed an equal consideration to the ocean and the our bodies on the shore who can work to make a distinction. Final month, I witnessed her third iteration of Upwelling, a multimedia efficiency using dance, poetry, and movie on the Convergence Arts Middle in San Jose, California. 

Upon strolling into the area, it captures the aura of a coastal gallery one may discover alongside a footpath within the enchanting city of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Illuminated aquamarine jellyfish lanterns line the cabinets with small picket slabs engraved with the phrases “please preserve our seashores clear.” The brilliant partitions, the jugs of water at heart stage, and the cool white linens coordinate everybody’s entrance right into a type of meditation. Even the little ones who attend can settle into the sounds of the ocean and Nommensen’s light pouring of water from one jar to the subsequent. 

Two dancers, Annalise Constanz and Abigail Hinson, enter the stage conjoined like twin buoys hip-to-hip, rocking to the ocean’s calm undertows and the distant clanging of sails towards the masts of ships. Then emerges the eerie dissonance of whale calls, from miles aside uniting right into a symphonic lull. The dancers are joined by Nommensen and Erica Stivison, every of them lighting their lanterns and swaying them ahead and again just like the gentle blue caress of ebbtide. The 4 of them each collect as one and linger alone of their deep-sea undulations, just like the ceaseless evolution of kelp forests as every strand is pushed out and pulled again in. Collectively the quartet presents the picture of tossed sea glass beneath the waves, as if they’re the crystals of forgotten bottles sifting via a torn shore. However they train us via motion and prayer that our relationship to the ocean might be revitalised. 

Constanz introduces us to the dance of sea foam, her ivory skirt parachuting just like the curl and break of incoming waves. Her toes rippling to the sounds of the rising tide, she is the ode to childhood, to taking part in within the surf. We hear a chime, the water a singing bowl of the whole lot we hope the ocean might be for us. “And but I swear I see blue skies / attempting to come out overhead / the practice strikes by / gentle begins to mirror on the / water,” reads Nommensen’s poem in this system, a reminder that wherever one seems to be – even when into the previous – there might be magnificence.

In the direction of the latter half of the work, a dancer manipulates a large puppet jellyfish over the viewers, tickling the tops of heads and the fingers of these curious to achieve out and contact. I sense a linkage now between land and sea, the linens airborne in every dancer’s hand just like the white caps we see after we squint exhausting sufficient. “There have to be gentle someplace / for this to occur,” continues the poem. 

Nommensen’s work urges the viewer that the ocean issues, and that we beach-comb to make gardens out of the sand but additionally to filter out what doesn’t belong. The marine soundtrack designed by Joe Krempetz guides us via each serene and energizing states, animating this unseen world with a powerful want to protect it. 

Publish-performance, there’s a screening of Nommensen’s previous movie iterations of Upwelling, acquainted choreographies shot alongside the central California shoreline. (All of those seashores are referenced contained in the miniature flasks of sand distributed to attendees in the beginning of the efficiency). Ceramic sculptures of Nommensen’s grapefruit sailboats are additionally displayed, tokens of the earth using happy-go-lucky all through the unknowns of the ocean. 

I’m drawn once more to Nommensen’s poem as a type of flight over a continent ravaged by local weather change, particularly its oceans which lately flooded Freeway 1 and nearly everything of Pájaro Valley between Santa Cruz and Monterey earlier this 12 months. “The practice strikes and strikes / then involves a cease / waits / then begins in reverse.” Maybe the one method to make peace with our earth is to cease preventing the storm, look ahead to that interval of calm, then start slowly once more, otherwise than earlier than. 

Information about Upwelling and extra of Nommensen’s work might be discovered on her website: and her Instagram: Header picture by Douglas Calalo Berry.