Transaquania at the Blue Lagoon

Last month, the Blue Lagoon in Iceland played host to a one-off dance performance, eaturing unknown species swimming in its restorative waters. Dazed were there to capture it all on video.

Photography by Adalstein Stefanson.
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is a hot water lake, which came to life as a result of water being extracted from the nearby geothermal factories, and which, thanks to its healing qualities, has become one of the world’s most renowned spas.

Last month, the unique setting played host to an experimental dance performance directed by celebrated choreographers Damien Jalet and Erna Ómarsdóttir, together with the Icelandic Dance Company and visual artist Gabriela Friðriksdóttir. Touching upon themes such as evolution, Transaquania – Out of Blue was performed for one night only, with the audience partly immersed in the lagoon’s water. We asked the three artists behind the project to lay out their complex vision for Dazed Digital.

Dazed Digital: What was the idea behind Transaquania?
Damien Jalet: We’re all fascinated with what’s archaic – the first signs of civilisation, the very ancient tribes. While working on Transaquania, we played with the ideas of alchemy and evolution of life and wanted to create a physical language that translates those changes into a dance.
Erna Ómarsdóttir: What interested us about the lagoon is that it’s actually man-made. The place is sort of a mutant, a combination of factors that are natural and products of a human mistake. That’s why we wanted our creatures to be transformable – they start as strange sea animals and emerge as humans at the end.
Gabriela Friðriksdóttir: We decided to create species that don’t exist. We researched the animals that live in the lagoon’s environment and found out that they often resemble eels or strange furry fish. Hence, we came up with the idea of transaquanian species that are a bit hairy, pale-skinned and have silica white feet. They mate and mutate, slowly become individual, and finally create a giant white God, who teaches them how to use their brains.

DD: Considering the Blue Lagoon’s specific environmental conditions, do you think it would be possible to stage Transaquania elsewhere?
Damien Jalet: Yes, but it probably wouldn’t be the same. I think there’s something beautiful about doing a project in only one place. What was special about it was that it also happened on the particular night. The 22nd of April is the last day of winter in Iceland. During the winter, you hardly get any light, and in the summer, you don’t have a night. So there’s one day in the year that’s kind of in-between here, and we were lucky enough to take advantage of that!

DD: What was the best thing about the project?
Gabriela Friðriksdóttir: Working with Erna and Damien, which I always find inspiring. It was also a great challenge to work with other dancers, especially in a place as unpredictable as the Blue Lagoon.
Erna Ómarsdóttir: Working in such sublime environment, because you can really feel the power of nature there. It’s like a place between heaven and hell! We were also very happy with the feedback we got from the audience. It sounded like it was a special journey for them – from stepping into the hot water to being naked together in the shower…

Choreographers: Erna Ómarsdóttir and Damien Jalet

Concept: Erna Ómarsdóttir, Damien Jalet and Gabríela Friðriksdóttir

Original music: Ben Frost and Valdimar Jóhansson

Visual design: Gabríela Friðriksdóttir and Raven

Lighting design: Aðalsteinn Stefánsson

Film by Pierre Debusschere.

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