Nicole Beutler produces performances on current topics at a fast pace. Often with a troubled undertone. How do we keep each other trapped in rules and mindsets? How can we not see where the planet is heading if we don't act now?
The latter made her decide to make a trilogy on that subject; Rituals of Transformation. Ginkgo is the first of these. The first part of a trilogy where the issue is outlined inescapably.
Inevitable it is indeed. The stage is full of rubbish, it is a kind of apocalyptic landscape where a few try to survive and where old junk also falls from the sky, even an avalanche of bottles, where a bicycle and a shopping trolley hang there as evidence of careless handling of each other and the resources. It is an intriguingly bleak picture. The whole performance takes place in between. This makes this Beutler less of a dance performance than the others. There is hardly any place. However, where it happens and particularly the dying swan is of a timeless beauty.
There is also a hopeful image. Like some kind of archangel, Dorit Chrysler, dressed entirely in white, plays the theremin. Her ethereal soothing presence and the wonderment evoked by this intriguing instrument form a fine contrast and resting point in the desolate chaos.
Altogether, it is a poignant yet comforting performance. With the singing of Nederlands Kamerkoor as the absolute highlight. The poignant Lacrimosa from Mozart's Requiem. (But why was the text changed? Replacing Jesu Christe with Gaya is redundant and unnecessary) It is an indictment and a caress at the same time. Here Beutler is at her best, as she was in Dido Dido, in my experience her best performance ever. Music, movement and message dance around each other, leaving the viewer enraptured. After a series of texts, it culminates in an urgent message: There is still time. With that, the other texts actually become superfluous.
Then something remarkable happens. The dancers disappear. The stage becomes snowy, crackling music sounds and it takes a long time. Very long. The room becomes restless. A light moves, eventually finding peace on a small plant growing through the chaos. A beautiful symbol, but after Chrysler's words and her departure, the performance was at its peak. Is this long last act the way to make the urgency felt? I fear not.
But, either way, the whole thing makes one curious about parts 2 and 3, both in form and content. But perhaps with a little more room for the viewer to think for themselves, instead of already spelling out the problem and the need for a solution in multiple ways. The power and beauty of parts of this show deserve to be highlighted in full, and that does not detract from the message.
By Elise Kant