When I left off in Ice Station Practice, I was awaiting a dancing-on-the-ice shoot with outreach team documentarians Ben Harden and Amanda Kowalski. For the first two weeks of the cruise, we had been alternating days on and off the ice. When the next ice station day arrived, the weather turned out to be particularly bitter cold and windy. That morning, every person I encountered asked me with concern if I intended to dance outside. Ben, Amanda and I decided to postpone shooting until the next opportunity.

The following station turned out to be three (not two) days later and was an occasion for “ice liberty” — a chance for everyone who doesn’t have science “ops” on the ice to go outside and play, literally. Lots of fun, but probably not the best day for a shoot unless you want Coast Guard crew as extras. Ok, now I was starting to get antsy.

On June 3, The Healy glided up to an ice floe and parked for three days. This was a chance for the science team to observe changes in one particular floe over a period of time. We were expecting the melt ponds to arrive and were eager to witness the ice-scape’s transformation.  Unfortunately for me — and more unfortunately for scientists — it snowed. The Arctic is somewhat of a desert with little annual precipitation so the storm was a surprise. The snowfall whitened the darkening patches and forestalled the “albedo feedback” (see ICE WATCHING post) which leads to the formation of melt ponds.

Nonetheless, unsure of what the future conditions for ice dancing would be, we decided to go ahead with a shoot. The miserable weather made me feel heroic. Here I was leaning into the wind, dancing in an Arctic squall, staggering through crunchy slush and getting pelted by large wet snow flakes. The wind kept tangling my costume. I wiped out a few times. In near “grey-out” conditions, Amanda and Ben stoically recorded me in an array of wide-angle and close up shots. By shoot’s end, I was utterly exhausted, freezing and also strangely exhilarated.

Later, after a hot shower and tucked under several blankets, with warm blood slowly making its way towards fingers and toes, I felt the satisfaction of having done something that no one has ever done before (and few could possibly be so foolish as to try). This was dancing in the Arctic! I couldn’t wait until the next time. And there would turn out to be many more next times.

[To be continued]

About The Author

Jody Sperling

Jody is a dancer, choreographer and writer based in New York City. Founder and Artistic Director of Time Lapse Dance she seeks to glean as much as possible about the sea ice to find ways to express its dynamism and fragility on stage.

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