The Impossible Has Already Happened

Carterton Events Centre, Wairarapa

18/03/2023 - 18/03/2023

Opera House, Wellington

21/03/2023 - 21/03/2023

Great Lake Centre (Taupo), Taupo

29/03/2023 - 29/03/2023

Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

01/04/2023 - 01/04/2023

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

05/04/2023 - 05/04/2023

Production Details

Choreographers: Claire O’Neil (NZ) and Jennifer Mascall (CAN)
Sound & AV Designer: Jason Wright with composition by Kathleen Nisbet
Lighting & Set Designer: Marcus McShane
Costume Designer: Anne de Geus

Footnote New Zealand Dance and MascallDance Canada

This March, Footnote New Zealand Dance and MascallDance (Canada) are flooding the nation’s theatres with an international dance collaboration like no other. The Impossible Has Already Happened brings together two nation’s stories of water amid a global climate crisis. Choreographers Claire O’Neil (NZ) and Jennifer Mascall (Canada) investigate the power and purpose of water. Water sustains, nourishes, disrupts and dazzles our planet. It draws parallels to our flowing lives, to stagnated situations, and presence of being. With a sense of urgency, this work highlights our precious natural resource and all it can achieve.

The Impossible Has Already Happened touring information
Wairarapa – Carterton Events Centre, 18 March 2023
Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Wellington Opera House, 21 March 2023
Taupō – Great Lakes Centre, 29 March 2023
Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau – Q Theatre, 1 April 2023
Nelson/Whakatū – Theatre Royal Nelson, 5 April 2023


Footnote Company Dancers: Airu Matsuda, Emma Cosgrave, Veronica ChengEn Lyu, Levi Siaosi, Cecilia Wilcox
MascallDance Company Dancers: Allison Brooks, Tobias Macfarlane, Ysadora Dias
Production & Stage Manager: Genevieve Poppe
Tour Operator: Chris Simpson

Dance ,

70 mins

Each dancer has a solo which is revelatory in defining their various identities. As an ensemble the company merged effortlessly . . .

Review by Jenny Stevenson 02nd Apr 2023

For years, artists globally have been tickling our collective consciousness, urging the world to wake up to the perils of impending climate change. Footnote’s latest co-production, The Impossible Has Already Happened, with Canadian dance company MascallDance is a discourse on the precious taonga, water and the way in which “the story of our lives in this world is changing”. But the work is no earnest polemic – instead the two choreographers, Claire O’Neil from Aotearoa and Canadian Jennifer Mascall translate the inherent qualities of water into a distinctive movement style, that is constantly mobile.

Like mercy, the quality of water “is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven” and it is this effortless movement characteristic that defines much of the choreographic language of the work.  The limbs of the dancers dissolve, collapse and bend to depict this fluid motion. In addition, one can discern depictions of eddies and ripples, the frenzied jerking of turbulence, the rolling action of waves and the crashing of compacted ice into the sea. The dancers also come together en masse to depict sea-going vessels and the like.

The audience is reminded of the sheer weight of water as they enter the auditorium, watching Canadian dancer Tobias MacFarlane crawl around the outer perimeter of the dance space, weighed down by a dense cloth bundle perched on his back. MacFarlane acts as a sort of soothsayer throughout the work, orchestrating much of the action on stage and declaiming narrative dialogue.

The work is scripted by several different writers, including the dancers and draws on stories, reminisces and factual dialogue. However, some sections of the script are inaudible –  but it does remain possible to enjoy the work, without fully comprehending the nature of the content.

The dance is further contextualised through AV design by O’Neil, Mascall and Jason Wright and through video created by Jeremy Brick. The lighting and set design by Marcus McShane are major factors in establishing the ambience and providing insights into the work, as is the sound design by Kathleen Nisbet and Wright.  Anne de Geus’s costumes work to define each performer with a subtle use of colour and some of the garments flow with a pleasing movement of their own.

Little vignettes are enacted throughout the work, using a variety of quirky props. A small shelter is assembled on stage; an air-inflated diving suit is donned by MacFarlane like some adventurer from Jules Vernes’s Vingt Mille Lieues Sous les Mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas); and a tap and bowl are used to wash a garment onstage before filling bottles with the stained water. The final section of the work uses small hanging lights swinging in the gloom, suggesting that there is still hope and all is not lost.

The company is enhanced by three MascallDance members, bringing the total number of performers to eight. Each dancer has a solo which is revelatory in defining their various identities. As an ensemble the company merged effortlessly but each individual dancer’s characteristics soon emerged as they took centre stage. The two other MascallDance performers Allison Brooks and Ysadora Dias show a superb mastery of the subtleties of the movement style and a clear connection with the audience, while each of the Footnote dancers brings a fresh take to their interpretations, thereby imprinting their unique personalities onto the dance design.

A co-production that has taken several years to come to fruition due to delays from Covid disruptions, The Impossible Has Already Happened will tour Canada in November.


Make a comment

It’s wonderful to note the liaisons between countries, makers, creators and performers coming together to collaborate. 

Review by Helen Balfour 22nd Mar 2023

The Impossible has already happened, has been in the pipeline for 3 years so the most informative, programme/poster informs me. It’s wonderful to note the liaisons between countries, makers, creators and performers coming together to collaborate. 

Here too, I must mention Jane Wilcox’s eye-catching, engaging photos that have both promoted this work and drew my attention to read the programme. 

The work begins as we enter, a performer crawling tirelessly around the perimeter of the dimly lit stage without stopping, laden with a large bundle on their back. They are just there doing that action, we focus on them and also dismiss them and chat as we settle, the drip, drip, dripping of water is constant.

The sound of rushing, crashing chunks of ice both aurally and visually, makes us jump as interconnected brightly clad bodies enter the space, expanding and rotating organically through, in and around each other as the ‘crawler’ maintains their external plod around the fringe. 

Narration begins, some understandable and some not, clicks, ticks, references to bioluminescence in the Sargasso Sea, situated in the North Atlantic ocean. Portuguese narrations, translated to English alludes to the importance of water and the global effects climate change has on all of us.

“I want to be a beach”, both narrated and danced by Emma Cosgrave, a fluid and well-focused performer, led us through a day at the beach, certain mishaps and unforeseen events that changed circumstances. 

At this point I must address the audibility of the spoken word in a public performance. If words are to be shared in this forum, then they should be audible, all of them. There are a couple of technical sound glitches with mic-ed performers, but the inaudible un-mic-ed speaking performers are frustrating for an audience ( unless it is the desired intention to frustrate, which in this case I can assume it is not) in a theatre such as this. We should appreciate the context of the words and if they can’t be heard, this is plain annoying. Disappointingly, this happened too frequently in this hour-long work. 

International diversity is alluded to again both in nationality of the performer and the global perspective of the shows intentions, as Veronica Chengen Lyu spoke in Chinese ( interpreted as text on the cyclorama), demonstrates through humped, hunched actions and references to drowning lungs and contorted breath. How is the weather embedded in our body? An engaging concept, represented by Lyu. 

Jennifer Mascall ( Canada) and Claire O’Neill ( New Zealand) are seasoned choreographers. 

In this work, much of the dance appears somatically derived, a development style whereby the movement is formed from an internal point and then drives out and through the body. This process has much merit as a root source to make movement, but some of the choreography lacked structure and diversity of balance and shape, presenting a predictable ensemble section, then show-casing a solo framework. 

The work is performed by talented, diverse young dancers and does not need to be over supported by endless narration and things hanging in the space. The Impossible has already happened was prop and narration heavy and disappointingly this draws away from the dance, rather than complimenting it. The reality and intention of the work is evident and the narration is interesting and necessary only to further explore and inform; however, it detracts from the movement’s objectives and purpose. I wanted to watch the performer’s move, interpreting the  concepts through their bodies to the clever and dynamic sound design by Kathleen Nisbet, Jason Wright and ponder on the watery visuals and videos by O’Neill, Mascall, Wright and Jeremy Brick, without being regularly diverted to overstated narration. 

Marcus McShane’s lighting design complimented the various states producing rich colours and coaxing a sense of environment to sections of the work. Gorgeous blues help to conjure watery  luminescence in places, providing depth and shape to the stage. 
Much of the show has merit and the followers of Footnote Dance received them warmly, however, a culling of ideas and streamlining the content to bring the dance forefront could be a next step before the company heads to Canada and shares the work there. I wish them well.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council