3: The Garden

This Garden of Eden is perfect in its composition and style ****

from: Volkskrant 19/3/2011

"In the beginning there was nothing. Nothing was. So nothing wasn’t, too". Speaking in his soft Flemish lilt the man wearing the chequered lumberjack shirt waxes semi-philosophical on the creation of the world. He speaks in a continuous flow, a quality that permeates the entire performance. A powerful undercurrent steadily propels everything forward and binds it together organically – even when the ‘big bang’ resounds. And even when the Einstürzende Neubauten song The Garden, which starts so timidly, starts to lose its structure. And even as the dancers become ever more closely intertwined.

Nicole Beutler’s 1: Songs was inspired by heroines from stage literature and 2: Dialogue with Lucinda by the grand dame of early minimalist dance. 3: The Garden sees this German-Dutch choreographer immersing herself in another great theme: the relationship between nature and culture. These two constructs embody all manner of contradictory notions: nature equals chaos; culture equals order. Culture is both literally and metaphorically a step ahead of nature, a fountainhead to which the human being – the romantic human being – seeks to return from time to time. Beutler takes a close look at this dualist way of thinking using an original and remarkable visual/movement language with a highly detailed, musical structure.

On a carpet laid out between two rows of small trees, four men and two women in underwear move like the tiny stones in a magic lantern, forming symmetrical patterns and figures in a blend of dance and yoga – with distant echoes of the kamasutra. This Garden of Eden is perfect in its composition and style. Form and energy are the subjects here, and these concepts can be connected with the ways in which star systems and oceans developed. But something is not quite right, because one does not associate the primordial soup and primal natural forces with this level of order. Ever so gradually Beutler inverts the supposed logical order. Microphones become visible among the leaves of the trees. Enter the human, then, crying out in agonised longing, becoming a painted warrior and transforming into a pumping, copulating, free-loving organism. Only now does chaos emerge. Are we witnessing the effect of a return to nature or its opposite, the effect of civilisation? Thoroughly jumbled up, ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ now resemble one another bewilderingly closely – as the twin disasters of the tsunami and Fukushima in Japan so vividly demonstrate.*

© Mirjam van der Linden

  • The premiere of 3: The Garden was in the period of March 2011 that Japan suffered both a tsunami and the malfunction of the Fukushima nuclear power station.