There must have been a moment, standing on the deck of marine research vessel the RV Investigator, freezing cold and seasick to his stomach, that James Batchelor wondered what on earth he had signed up for.
But after two weeks of sailing in the Antarctic, the Canberra choreographer found his sea legs and began experimenting and improvising with dance as a team of scientists on the ship worked busily around him.
Batchelor's two-month experience on board the RV Investigator, part of an expedition to map the ocean floor around Heard and McDonald islands, is due to hit the stage of The Playhouse on Saturday night in the form of contemporary dance piece Deepspace.
The former Lyneham High School student, 25, and visual artist Annalise Rees were invited to be official voyage artists on the 2016 expedition after Mike Coffin, a lead scientist with the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, saw Batchelor perform in Canberra in 2014.
The expedition was the ultimate fusion of art and science.
As scientists on board the RV Investigator studied submarine volcanoes and their relationship to the Earth's biosphere, Batchelor and Rees began to explore the effect of the constant motion of the waves on their bodies.
"The thing about being on the ocean, in the roughest oceans in the worlds, the kind of movement that created for me was very specific. I've never experienced it before - being in that kind of motion with the waves," Batchelor said.
"I was sick for the first two weeks, it takes a while to get used to that movement in your body. Even sleeping, you're always moving around, it was a very interesting place for a dancer to be, studying movement."
What he found fascinating while travelling in the Antarctic and Subantarctic, Batchelor said, were the common approaches to discovery shared by both artist and scientist.
"What I found was that the artists and the scientists were actually working in a very similar way," he said.
"We were both investigating, we were both curious about the environment and we were all using the tools that we use to draw conclusions, to capture things, to draw comparisons and links to other knowledge that we have.
"Dance needs to be researched, dance is rich and complex ... so all of that in this environment was very inspiring for me.
"There was a really nice exchange by having the two practices simultaneously in the same space."
Batchelor, an aspiring filmmaker, also produced a short six-minute film on his experience on the RV Investigator.
Deepspace, Saturday December 23, 7pm, The Playhouse. For tickets and further information head to www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au
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