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Posts from the ‘Lise Smith’ Category

Nicole Beutler, 1: Songs

Lise Smith

Several recent dance theatre productions have concerned themselves with the physicality of performance in other modes of presentation, particularly live music. One thinks of the surreal puppetry and “sonic haemoglobin” of Pierre Rigal’s Micro, or Gilmore Productions’ touring narrative The Blank Album. As with both of these productions, German choreographer Nicole Beutler’s1: Songs is at one and the same time a performance and a representation of a performance, playing with both the language and the physical codes used by musicians during a live gig.

The piece’s sole performer, Sanja Mitrovic, begins in backlit obscurity, voice echoing into one of the five microphones bristling on the forestage. Mitrovic is severely dressed, in a buttoned-up dark grey shirtdress. Her voice is charmingly fragile, wobbling slightly as she sings the words of legendary female figures ancient and modern: “My bosom aches for him”, “My friends, I can no more”. Comfortable perhaps behind the words of other women, at times the performer seems to accidentally reveal too much of herself; she chants “Please god make him call me back!” long after one track has ended, until she catches herself in the act and coolly calls for the next song.

Gary Shepherd’s music score is in itself entertaining, flitting between indie rock and something that sounds like the bastard progeny of Josh Wink and Joey Beltram – to which Mitrovic pulses through her torso, arms at 3’o’clock, amping to the bass. As the performance progresses, her glacial ice-maiden demeanour and severe dress both gradually unravel; until Mitrovic is skipping around the stage in combat boots, dress unbuttoned and hair flying, screaming the words of Antigone and Medea.

1: Songs is a brave and powerful presentation, and Mitrovic is never less than completely in the moment of performance. A gripping and persuasive look at the female voice through history, through the lens of contemporary concert culture.

Bad Examples by Lise

Lise Smith
Bad review example 1:

Then, after I had selected the above example, this second bad review popped into my Twitter feed:

Good Example by Lise

Lise Smith
A review I liked:

Fabian Barba – A Mary Wigman Dance Evening

Lise Smith

A silver-clad figure struts across the stage, hands akimbo, to the sound of Chinese gongs. Ecuadorian dance artist Fabian Barba is performing an evening of solos by Mary Wigman based on her first tour of the United States, and the effect is uncanny – Barba inhabits not only Wigman’s choreography but her costumes, her delicate hand gestures, and her somewhat mannered facial expressions.

The performance comments on the enactment of a feminine persona on stage, but Barba resists the urge to camp it up. Dressed in female costume (but not in drag – he has shaved neither leg nor torso hair and wears no makeup) Barba enacts the graceful hip shifts and wrist flicks of Wigman’s short solos, effectively becoming the choreographer herself for the duration of the performance. The material is shown cabaret-style, with a costume change and a musical intermission between each piece, immersing the audience in the chandelier-lit 1930s ambience of the setting.

The movement palette is minimal; Wigman/Barba favours simple stepping patterns up and down the stage, shaping the space with liquid arms and hand flourishes that often appear oriental or tribal. One striking sequence,Sturmlied, features the performer in a diaphanous red cape covering the face, whirling the fabric through the air like dust in a sandstorm. FinaleDrehmonotonie finds Barba circling incessantly about the centre, pacing the stage like a caged beast in a silver ballgown.

Special mention must go to Sarah-Christine Reuleke for her loving recreations of Wigman’s costumes, a procession of backless silk gowns, Egyptian-inspired wraps and elegant shawls that are as fascinating to watch as the choreography itself.

Strange and oddly-mannered at first, the Wigman style has by the end of the performance become familiar, the final encore welcome. Just as Barba takes on the persona of Wigman in his enactment of her choreography, so we in the audience, gradually warming towards this unaccustomed style, become identified with her earlier audiences. This thoughtful, multi-layered recreation reveals the performance as not mere historical artefact but as a constant and living process refracted through both audience and performer.

Posted by LiseS