6: The Square

from: Het Parool 24/09/2016

Het Parool 24/09/2016 With her new piece 6: The Square, choreographer and director Nicole Beutler zooms in on the need of humanity to create order in a constantly changing world. It is the second part of Nicole Beutler’s (47) Bauhaus-trilogy on the basic principles of the circle, the square and the triangle. After creating politically engaged performances for a while, she now wanted to return to the essence of art.

“The time 2011-2012 was my most political phase, all my pieces had to do with the subsidy dramas that were going on at the time,” says Beutler. “Culture was kind of pushed up against the wall, like: this is not important anymore in this society. With the pieces I created I wanted to activate people: don’t just accept it, revolt.” After 2012 this phase was over. Beutler asked herself who she was as an artist and why she was creating art. The art needed to be independent, not requiring the audience to change, but presenting the opportunity for change to happen. “My work needed to become less pushy, I wanted to go back to the basis.”

Geometrical shapes
After some research Beutler discovered Bauhaus as a new source of inspiration for her work. “It is an interesting school where they work in a very interdisciplinary fashion with disciplines like dance, visuals, architecture and textile,” says Beutler. “In the Bauhausschool they work with the geometrical shapes circle, square and triangle. It intrigued me that there is so much life behind such simple, abstract shapes. So many potential stories can emerge from them, despite them being basic.”

It was not the original plan, but this piece also has a political character. In a time in which delimiting borders appears to be important to a lot of people, Beutler’s work is very relevant. “A square is very much about delimiting, making exclusive. A square even contains a certain aggressiveness. I also could not avoid looking at the recent political situation. Because everything is about delimiting at the moment, about fear for what is different. Fear for the unknown. In the performance, speeches from all over the world are used. Not only from Donald Trump, but also from Marine le Pen and Viktor Orbán.”

Beutler does not only want to sketch a negative image of the square, people also need the square, she maintains. “The square also has something calming. Think about the frames of paintings, it is also nice, the delimitation. It has to do with cleaning, but too much cleaning is dangerous.”

Fixed system
The piece is executed in the American form of square dance, which consists of eight dancers and one caller, who calls the assignments that the dancers execute. Because it is a fixed system, no one can be permitted to make a mistake: if one person makes a mistake, the entire pattern will fall apart.

“Especially this dance fits exactly with what I wanted to show in my piece”, asserts Beutler. “The dance and the system within represent some kind of miniature society.” “The music by Gary Shepherd, dj and composer, strengthens the total. His electronic beats, that sounds like the soundtrack of a film, offer a platform for the dance.” Not only the music, but also the lighting and visuals play an important role in Beutlers work. She even calls the light ‘a body’ that plays a role in her piece and tells a story.

Talking images
“My work has a lot to do with visual art, it is more than traditional dance theatre.” It is a very visual piece, it shows how an image can speak, for instance in the coming together of light and scenery.” The light of the piece is done by a Finnish light designer with whom Beutler has been working together for some time, Minna Tiikkainen. “Together with the scenic designers we have designed a light translucent wall with led lights that makes beautiful light paintings. The scenery is actually a painting of light.”

© Camilla Bennink