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Posts tagged ‘1:Songs’

Swansong

Nóra Bükki Gálla


Another one of the experimental pieces presented by the iDans festival, 1:Songs blends sound, image and motion to create a multidimensional vision of what it means to be a woman. German theater maker Nicole Beutler devises a curious on-stage operation in which the feminine psyche is being dissected.

The performer, Sanja Mitrovic, hides behind a line of 5 microphones. In the background black and white photos are projected on a screen: a dark line of people, a woman running and falling to the ground. The images are shown from different angles, dissolving into black shapes and patches then zooming into focus again.

Music is the only companion of the performer in her lonesome voyage of emotions; Gary Shepherd’s pulsing machine-music ranges from soft pop tunes to a monotonous hammering. The performance resembles a concert, lyrics are taken from lines of tragic drama characters like Antigone or Medea. Like in a good concert, there is plenty of space for interaction with the audience (the performer says after the first shocking song: ‘Are you with me?’ or asks someone in the first row to sing with her). Mitrovic plays with her voice like it was an instrument: she screams, hisses, barks and howls as the dynamics of the piece requires.

Beutler uses a minimized movement vocabulary close to everyday gestures, conveying an ironic message: stylized, over-acted dancing between songs or robot-like motions when the performer sings about having a heart.

Like in a concert, the audience is rewarded by an extra song at the end. Thinking back we got the whole classic set of female conflicts of love and hate, desire and repulsion played out in words, gestures and screams, still the question remains whether we learned anything new about what it means to be a woman. Probably not.

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Crying out the mutual desparation

Theresa Steininger

Singing, shouting and crying out the mutual desparation of all women, the performer in Nicole Beutler´s „1: Songs“ becomes the personification of famous suffering examples of her sex. In her piece, which Beutler created together with Sanja Mitrovic and Gary Shepherd, Mitrovic is on an almost empty stage, only having five microphones she switches in between. She sings different songs, many of them in some kind psychedelic. The creators have chosen rock music to bring to stage different stories of suffering, like Gretchen´s (of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe´s „Faust“) Marie´s (of Georg Büchner´s „Woyzeck“) or the antique Antigone. Mitrovic cites from Faust, bringing the famous words of Gretchen´s last monologue into a quiet, but agressive rock song. After showing a – in relation to the others – rather simple situation „Please god, let him call me“ with her head in her neck, agression takes over the whole evening, she cries out her wishes, her despariation – „I want everything of life“, but then „If not, I want to die“. This strong situation is cut by a s short „Okay“, she comes to the next scene. Mitrovic barks, pretends to undress, but doesn´t, tells the audience „Watch me vanish“ and in a strong situation moves as if being shot by a machine-gun. She jumps around without any obvious reason, suddenly throws all microphones to the floor, says sorry and comes to a very quiet Shoop-shouwada-song.

 

Beutler´s/Mitrovic´s performance brings a lot of impressions to stage, some of them very strong, still the red line through the evening was too weak, the topics she had chosen had been presented too often before. Giving the desparation of women a voice, bringing discontend with the world around us to the stage, with the final claim „More than machinery, we need humanity, more than cleverness, we need kindness, we all think too much and feel too little“, which seems important, but also naive after all that came before, the impression remains that of a partly strong performance, but not one that affects – because it is then just one of many.

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.

Nicole Beutler – Songs

Maxime Fleuriot

Nicole Beutler – Songs

Songs is a solo performance that takes the appearance of a concert led by Sanja Mitrovic. Wearing a very classical and simple dress (« bourgeois » style) the woman looks like rather shy. Yet the outrage and the strenght that show up in the voice, the craziness that show in the eyes and the whole face create an interesting contrast with her appearance. This combination is curious, unique and striking. So are her movements, always surprising, always unexpected. She literally hold the stage with great self confidence. One could think of Claudi Triozzi because of the experiments with the voice but Nicole Beutler’s performance is much darker in what it conveys : suffering, isolation. In fact, it doesn’t look like anything we could have seen before which is the sign of the great performers. However, if the performance starts very well, it loses its powerful charm as it goes on. Unlashing her hair, opening her dress, the performer becomes clearer in her intentions : expressing feminine despair and solitude. The discrepency betwen the appearance and the underlying outrage of the voice tend to disapear. The lyrics of the songs become clearer. Everything become too obvious and one way. Behind the performer, on a screen, since the beginning of the performance, old images are shown. Names of literary heroines appear on these pictures : Ophelia, Antigone, Medea… The images are nice but this will to inscribe this feminine presence in a more general litterary context remain at the level of an intention and seems a little bit forced.