The Square: Thanks for Coming!

uit: Inferno Magazine
22 mei 2016

Utrecht, correspondent. 
The Square, choreography by Nicole Beutler – SPRING Festival Utrecht
Thank you for coming!

The small ritual of écriture corporelle done, the curtain raised, we are startled, apart from by the large metal tower and the clear square on the stage, by the four red liquid crystal numbers that indicate “65.00”. In this hour and five minutes, all that we will see is in real time, the minutes measured out by this bright red.

And what do we actually see in these 65 minutes?

A rather facetious piece, like a child’s game, divided into several sequences, spiced up by Deborah, solemn speaker of the crowd, that preaches, in the manner of an American tele-evangelist, solidarity and unity between all people each Sunday. She urges us to take charge of our collective strength. She stresses the necessity to perpetuate it. But then, suddenly, the message emerges…

And this happens during the third act of the show. Though the fourth wall has been broken since the beginning through the entrance of the dancers from the audience, it is then that Deborah, dancer, singer, actress, – who knows – turns on the lights in the audience. She asks them to let themselves go, to movements and actions that will integrate themselves into the piece, before asking “Who wouldn’t want to help their neighbour?”. Who would, in everyone’s sight, dare to expose themselves to the contrary. Everybody raises their arms.

Nonetheless, nothing in The Square makes us expect a show that, if not engaged, is at the very least very politically concerned. Especially since it begins with action that demonstrates exactly what is meant by “writing with the body”; on the forestage, in a smart handwriting of bodies, either discerningly interlinked or on their own, the entire title of the piece is cleverly poured onto the proscenium.

A rather cold decor, made out of shining metal, a light carpet made out of tiles – undoubtedly yellow – serves as the scenery for a dance, set to quite rhythmical music, one with communicative energy.

In the first part the dancers are divided into two groups of four. We cannot see their faces – they are back-lit. The movements on stage bring to mind the figures of the game Tetris, in the abruptness of the gestures, which are almost too choppy, graphic and linear, with little footwork, no lifts – numbered ensembles that criss-cross and intersect.

Nicole Beutler wants to create a group, a mass, to reinforce her point. The writing is, thus, choral. The group aggregates. It is together. It interlinks, it does not let go.

It is Deborah and her solo that we have to wait for – to rely on her individuality, her presence, that ends up marking the show by snatching everything off the stage, to the point of making the dancing disappear from the last scene – a sort of post-hippie orgy that shows nearly-naked bodies climbing on top of each other, embracing without ever becoming vulgar or provocative. Rather, it stays in line with the intention of the piece and the solidarity of the 70’s, of which we have heard spoken about as if it were a sort of nirvana, one which is cruelly absent in the twenty-first century, constituted as it is of fear, expectations and rejection of others.

Do you recognize the person next to you? Do you want to take care of someone or something? Yes. Hence we are rich, happy to be free – let us believe in the future and our community.