A graphically designed work with Thunbergs words

from: Moos van den Broek, Theaterkrant 11 februari 2021

We have to save the world, that is the straightforward and somewhat one-dimensional message of Our house is on fire. Choreographer Nicole Beutler stole Greta Thunberg's phrase and used it as the starting point for her new work. She repeats the phrase numerous times in a sleek crossover between dance, graphic design and fashion.

Our house is on fire; the sentence is projected on a red canvas in large white letters. A soundscape softly emits a light rattling, which is occasionally disturbed by a penetrating sound. Then one by one eight astronaut-like figures in red suits appear on the stage, taking up different positions in front of the canvas. A simple choreography is created from sign language, and finally the eight dancers form the letters of the sentence on the backstage. An exercise that they repeat several times during the piece.

Our house is on fire is an almost graphically designed work, in which Beutler plays with body, text, projection, light and costume. She previously created the choreography under the banner of the Swedish dance company Norrdans, which usually produces work for a young audience as well. The piece has already traveled extensively in the north of Sweden. This new version was created by Beutler with her own company and was streamed live from Frascati, where I was one of the few to see it live (curious about the other version!).

After the astronauts disappear, the image of a beautiful pine forest in mist clouds emerges, followed by drone images of raw, high rock walls. The color of the narrow, wide floor parallel to the screen changes as the music composition takes a dramatic turn. It is the dancers who eventually set a new and light tone on the front stage when they run with airplane's safety instructions. Objectively seen, Our house is on fire is a bit of a mishmash. But Beutler knows how to organize her material cleverly, she is a master of that. Supported where necessary by Gary Shepherd's soundscapes. After all these years of collaboration they make a close team.


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