Mocean Dance and Hear Here Productions, Burnwater: Alchemy


“Alchemy: anymagicalpowerorprocessoftransmutingacommonsubstance…intoasubstanceofgreatvalue.”

Created by Erin Donovan of Hear Here Productions and Susanne Chui of Mocean dance, the multi-disciplinary show, Burnwater is inspired by bringing the outdoors indoors; offering the audience the chance to journey through an interactive environment the two have created with musician Doug Cameron and Dancer Rhonda Baker; featuring sound and sculptural pieces created by John Little as a focal point.

Rhonda Baker in Burnwater Photo by: Michelle Doucette

Along with these creative, collaborators under the direction of Chui and Donovan include Set Design by Ellen Gibling, Sound Design by John D.S. Adams, Costumes by Andrea Ritchie, Facilitated by Katherine Duncanson.

Chui’s fondness of the piece is apparent as I sit down with her over Facetime; I in a not so quiet downtown restaurant and her in her home while her baby takes his afternoon nap. Having worked collaboratively with the other artists she has a sense of calm when she speaks of this environment they’ve created through a democratic process of weaving ideas.

Doug Cameron in “Burnwater” Photo by: Michelle Doucette

When speaking of the creation process she expresses her interest in the animate versus the inanimate. In the piece a sculptural puppet created by Theo Pitsiavas and Chris Little has become “the keeper of the world”

CORRECTION: originally I attributed the creation of the moveable sculpture to John Little, however this is his response as he wanted to give credit where credit was due:

“The ‘puppet’ was the inspired creation of Theo Pitsiavas and Chris Little. I was stunned as they put together these forged pieces from my ‘experimental forgings’ pile to make this enduring symbol of our dear George Ling. It’s particularly meaningful when you realize this is the same pile of forged iron stuff that George drew his inspiration from. I helped a little (I drilled a few holes), but the concept and reality of this wonderful piece belongs to Theo and Chris. I am delighted! George would be too … I know it! -John Little”

Her investigation into the movement portion of the piece came from an interest in how a dancer could move like metal and how metal could move like a dancer. The idea that all things around us have their own life as beings within this world contributes magic to the work.

Rhonda Baker & Doug Cameron in “Burnwater” Photo by: Michelle Doucette

The audience is lucky to be lead through the world by performers Rhonda Baker and Doug Cameron, experiencing their love of the environment created by set and sound design, interactive installation and pieces that come together to create an experience that will delight all senses: sight, sound, touch, smell.

“Remember that where your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist   

At first I naively thought when she described a journey the audience would go on, Chui meant a metaphorical journey. However, she clarified, if you attend the show, you become part of the installation and are brought into the space with the idea that you too are part of the creation. Just as we are always breathing without the constant consciousness of the fact; so too are we always contributing to the environment and so, expect to find yourself “in the midst of something” whilst you journey (literally) though the performance.

“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist   

The idea of bringing the outdoors in happened one fateful evening when Chui and Donovan had created an outdoor installation that got rained out. They relocated the performance to a nearby high school where a mural depicting the outdoors served as a backdrop for the performance. I think this is so pertinent to our current societal situation as I sit here typing away on my computer. As much as we like to think we’ve conquered nature and the outdoors is separate from the indoors, everything we do see and buy is eventually traced to the origin of the outdoors. We are in the age of alchemy where the smallest bit of metal contributes to the microchip that is housed in the motherboard of a computer; becoming a wealth of information and knowledge available from the nearest wireless signal. It’s important to bridge our understanding of where the indoors ends and outdoors begin or perhaps maybe it is even more important to blur our understanding of these concepts in order to realize that we are, in fact always in one environment or another that started from raw material.

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”

Paulo Coelho, The AlchemistMocean Dance never ceases to inspire and delight audiences in Halifax and Nationally. Often, I’m drawn to a performance if I feel it’s more accessible, and this is definitely a fine example. With choices made by so many creatives, at the mercy of a large scale installation work, you’re bound to find something to connect with. And aren’t we all looking for just a little more connection these days?

Burwater:Alchemy 2 min FINAL from Erin Donovan on Vimeo.


7PM/Wed /13 Sept/2017


4&7PM/Sat/ 16 Sept/2017

1PM/Sun/17 Sept/2017


Alderney Landing Theatre