While sitting by the Pacific Ocean two years ago, Vancouver’s Anya Saugstad got the inspiration to pen a lengthy poem revolving around a sense of urgency to act on climate change and protect the Earth’s oceans.
In that poem, she wrote the words “ocean roaring,” which would later serve as the title of her contemporary dance project: a live, site-specific dance and violin piece. It was first performed later that year at Kitsilano Beach and was featured as a film in the 2020 Vines Art Festival.
The 20-minute performance had only been performed on the shores of the Pacific Ocean until recently, but Saugstad and the six other women in the ensemble collaborated with the Rotary Centre for the Arts and used Kelowna’s Tugboat Bay Beach as their stage on Aug. 5 and 6.
“I wanted to draw attention to the ocean, as this scarce and vital resource,” said Saugstad, a graduate of Simon Fraser University and the architect behind the piece’s choreography.
“I wanted to make a work that dueted with the ocean so that people could sit down for 20 or 30 minutes and watch not only us performing but also see the site and the environment.”
Ocean Roaring features Saugstad and five artists perform a contemporary dance routine by the ocean — in Kelowna’s case Okanagan Lake — while Cindy Kao steers the group with her violin.
“There was also this feeling of urgency — being a woman who’s expected to be polite, in control, moving my body in a very certain way,” said Saugstad. “I wanted the power of the ocean, the power of womanhood and our bodies — that duality worked really nicely for me in my mind.”
To be as environmentally conscious as possible, Saugstad employed live music for the piece, while the costumes worn are thrifted or are second-hand.
The term roaring, she said, speaks to the waves, as well as the women expressing themselves through dance.
“It feels like we’re roaring the whole time, trying to get something out and say something with our bodies,” she said.