Heavy metal (2019)

From a dark and infinite space reaches a bunch of fleshy and melting digits to polish a shiny, metallic object with perfect silver balls. There are black nails and abstract bruises hidden amongst the mutated flesh.

This new performance will draw on a feminist approach to alchemy and transformation to explore matter and form. A durational work of up to six hours, six minutes and six seconds incorporating alchemical methods of repetition, distillation and decay within the choreographic process, the work will involve dance, scented sculpture and performers, a vocal composition, elements of visual description and an integrated touch tour.

The work is a Tramway co-production with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and will premiere in October 2019.

Image by Laura Firby.

 

For now we see through a mirror, darkly (2018)

This eerie and mystical performance has been created in collaboration and performed with Jo Hellier and Peter McMaster. The performance includes a Visual Description developed in collaboration with Juliana Capes, which is aimed at describing and interpreting that which cannot be seen, but is present.

It is a bright space, light spring from deep below and from behind. There is nowhere to hide. There are 3 obscured vertical figures; a blood sack, a towering meat stack (or stink horn) and a jelly beast. The 3 figures signify the 3 different fires in the work: The inner fire, the secret fire and the dark fire that stimulates the other two.

Four winds blow through and it is time to journey through the gloom. This highly cryptic pictorial world can be placed under the slogan of its favourite motif – a smiling snake, a dying sun and the gentle droppings of unclean slime. Sometimes the image will spin into the abyss, and sometimes stand at the centre, and sometimes it spreads flat into broad space.

Dark matter is brought to life through great heat and distilled up to twelve times. This phase lasts for a long time so one should be patient. The terror of the situation gives us a moist hug and the most fabulous sphere of wrath, for it is here that the chaotic blood tunnel opens and we visualise the golden nugget. Evocation at its best, for now we see through a mirror, darkly.

Credits
Choreography/Concept: Louise Ahl
Created and performed by: Jo Hellier, Peter McMaster and Ultimate Dancer
Visual Description: Company in collaboration with Juliana Capes
Dramaturgy: Crystal Cooper
Scenic Painter: Charlotte Powell

Photography: Julia Bauer

Developed through the National Theatre of Scotland’s Starter Programme (supported by McGlashan Charitable Trust), The Work Room, Beacon Arts Centre and Reykjavik Dance Festival. Supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

Video documentation available upon request.

 

YAYAYA AYAYAY (2017)

Ultra-terrestrial temporary dance proclaiming the historic chant: tnahc cirotsih eht gnimialcorp ecnad yraropmet lairtserret-artlU

A vision of a giant or an alien with a message; Ultimate Dancer and Robbie Thomson bring discoveries from the dark places. Expect a neo-ancient display of natural-high inducing lights, sounds and trippy ritual dances.

In 2015, Ultimate Dancer went into a darkness retreat for five days - a purpose-built room isolated from all light and sound. Ceremonial darkness is a classical method for accessing vibrant unconscious and super-conscious states. The experience was deeply transformative; at times hallucinogenic, emotionally moving, physically painful and has thoroughly inspired the creation of YAYAYA AYAYAY.

Credits
Choreography/Concept/Performance: Louise Ahl/Ultimate Dancer
Sound/Light/Performance: Robbie Thomson
Costume: Zephyr Liddell
Dramaturgy: Jo Bannon

Photography: Abigail Denniston for Live Collision

Supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland and ‘AMPS’ - a commission from Jerwood Charitable Foundation / Nick Anderson. Further support from: Tramway, The Work Room, Gessnerallee Zurich, Dance Base Edinburgh, Movement Research New York and Live Collision International Festival.

Video documentation available upon request.

 

Holy Smoke (2015)

A gang of hyper-present beings occupy a mystic underworld, seeking answers to life’s big existential questions. Wrapped up in a cosmic sonic blanket, these weirdos go pro in this trip into the unknown. The performance space becomes an alternative reality with dark energies, roaming spirits, occult rituals and loads of smoke.

Holy Smoke is based on investigations into healing and personal-transformative practices using movement and sound. The piece explores the parallel qualities between a guided shamanic journey (a visionary journey into the spirit world in which the participant would seek answers to personal questions) and the experience of live performance. Holy Smoke takes shape as a choreographed healing process, and includes deconstructed messages of love and kindness, dreamy spells cast backwards and a pop song - sung in reverse.

Credits
Choreography/Concept: Louise Ahl
Originally Created and performed by: Divina Kniest, Fritz Welch, Jer Reid, Rachel Gammon and Ultimate Dancer
Sculptures/Set: Fritz Welch
Sound: Jer Reid

Photography: Julia Bauer

Co-produced by Tramway and developed in partnership with: The Work Room, Beacon Arts Centre, CCA Glasgow and Theaterhaus Berlin Mitte. Supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

Video documentation available upon request.

 

Cloud Mushrooms (2014)

Cloud Mushrooms is a modular performance structure that develops in response to the site, content and audience. In the various versions of the piece Ultimate Dancer and Fritz Welch will run loose through a shadow at night; pull up all the floorboards and sift through the dust underneath; exhale hopelessness until utter depletion; imitate thunderclaps with even louder repercussions; shutter at the thought of your tears and stand on each other’s shoulders while consulting history. They will take clues from flowers and plants to transcribe into Morse code for heartbeats. They will dance like snakes on a legless sunrise. And they will transmute awfulness from the evilest ills.

Credits
Created and performed by: Louise Ahl and Fritz Welch

Photography: Graeme MacDonald and Take Me Somewhere Festival 2017

Cloud Mushrooms is a performance developed and presented as part of Arches Live 2014 and further developed through a commission from Take Me Somewhere Festival 2017.

Video documentation available upon request.

 

The NICE Institute (2013)

In 2013, Louise started a research/performance project called The NICE Institute (The Non-Institute for Choreographic Enlightenment) – it is a fictional institute, which tries to unpick what ’choreographic enlightenment’ might mean. The NICE Institute creates performance events, installations and text, and is visualised as a piece of choreography. The NICE Institute is developing a MA Choreospiritual Practice – a research project in the shape and in the name of a Masters course.  Louise created this as a structure for herself to exist within as a solo artist. The various activities that form part of the MA, whether performative, research-based or creating devices to connect more widely with other people – are all intended to develop a choreographic practice which integrates alternative healing methods. The following projects have been presented by the NICE Institute:

NICE Opening Ceremony was an installation and durational performance in which a marathon was accomplished – inside The Arches (Glasgow). When the marathon finished there was a short choreographic ceremony to illuminate the official opening of The NICE Institute.

NICE Growl: As a representative of The NICE Institute, Louise (a gorilla) presents a 10-minute growl lecture. In complete darkness, the gorilla growls through all the reasons to why The NICE Institute is being set up and why initiatives alike are important for a healthy arts ecology. The performance also includes a mini-drum kit played and destroyed by the gorilla as well as a pre-show day-long interaction through a symposium setting. Developed for Cue Positions – a symposium by BELLYFLOP Magazine.

NICE Healing is a customised performance experience for one audience member at a time. The receiver will choose between a ‘Basic Fake Healing Session’ or a ‘Negativity Extraction Ceremony’ and will spend 30 minutes with chakra tuning/crystal healing/Swedish Whisper Spells/Egg White Reading/Chants/Hands-on Healing/Individual Aroma-therapy Blends/Gorilla Guidance/Sage Cleansing – all depending on individual needs.  Developed for BUZZCUT Festival 2014.

 

Intercourse (2013)

Intercourse is a functional solo dance piece about dysfunctional relationships. Three chairs, an aloe-vera plant and a critic take part in an odd sexual play that alters from ultimate pleasure to deep trauma. Intercourse transports the audience into an uncertain experience, and asks questions of the theatrical apparatus with its cultural discourses through which choreography comes to ‘mean’. 

Louise Ahl invited a range of performance critics into her choreographic process as part of a collaborative performance and research project. The lack of dialogue between performance critics and makers and the weak discourse it produces, initiated an idea to collaborate with a range of critics and to re-frame their role as an observer – towards a more participatory function. The critic and the artist have often been defined as mutually antagonistic; the performer makes work, while the reviewer consumes and reflects upon it. The aim with this project is to relocate the critical process on stage and present criticism – not as an after-birth of art but rather, a necessary part of its conception.

Credits
Created and performed by: Louise Ahl / Ultimate Dancer

Photography: Paul Samuel White and Julia Bauer

Intercourse was commissioned by Dance4 and developed in partnership with Dance Base, The Basement, The Work Room, Yorkshire Dance, BUZZCUT and CNDC Angers. Supported by the National Lottery, through Arts Council England.

Video documentation available upon request.

 

Trance (2012)

Trance is Ultimate Dancer’s second piece of work based on research around choreographic authorship and authorities. With a desire to affect the audience’s unconscious mind Ultimate Dancer researched hypnosis and went on a shamanic trip to find her inner power animal. The result of this adventure into the unknown is a choreographic ritual that prepares the performance space for the evolution of dance. It is the Ultimate meditation. It is a magic spell. It is an allegory of power and domination that asks the question; who is in control?  

Credits
Created and performed by: Louise Ahl / Ultimate Dancer
Composer: Luke Wilson
Drums: Christoffer Ahl

Photography: Laura Firby, Miriam Tamayo and Renata Chueire

Trance was developed through Coaching Project with curator Peter Pleyer for Tanztage Berlin 2012. Further support from Yorkshire Dance and Compass Live Art

With the support from the International Dance Programme – Konstnärsnämnden (The Swedish Arts Grants Committee).

Video documentation available upon request.

 
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This is not a Dance (2010)

This is not a Dance is Ultimate Dancer’s first piece of work and presented as Louise Ahl’s final performance project at Dartington College of Arts in 2010, with the aim to transfer the concept of quotations and recycling into dance language to create a dance with no or collective authorship.

Credits
Created and performed by: Louise Ahl / Ultimate Dancer
Music by: Luke Wilson

Photography: Laura Firby

Video documentation available upon request.

“The mash-up of styles, the determined iconoclasm – big name choreographers are not safe from being absorbed in this Ultimate Dance – and the subversive wit are all signifiers of Ultimate Dancer’s post-modern temper. And yet, in seeking to kill ideas about dance in order to allow dance to be born again, Ultimate Dancer is following the most ancient and profound meta-narratives, acting as a shaman to discover and bring back new knowledge and forge possibilities.” (The Skinny, 2011)

“The Ultimate Anti-Dance Performance Artist makes a point of creating a dance of her own: partially a comical performance, partially a defiant anti-institutional performance.” (EdinburghSpotlight.com, 2011) 

“This is not a Dance is a brave, neck-on-the-line piece of performance art.” (AcrossTheArts.com, 2011)

“An in-yer-face manifesto that has attitude.” (The Herald, 2011)