Young Blogger reviews a dance of words

Nicole Beutler - 1 Songs with Ibelisse Guardia (c) Anja Beutler 01Today is International Women’s Day.

A day where we celebrate women and raise awareness for equal rights. I know I can only speak for myself, and I acknowledge that Nicole Beutler’s 1: SONGS has previously received criticism for not saying anything ‘new’ about women’s rights, yet I feel that Beutler’s piece was one of the most striking observations about women that I have seen to date.

Let’s be honest, pleasing everybody is practically an unachievable feat. People are always going to criticise, in fact you should probably be concerned if people don’t question your work. In this respect I think Beutler should take pride in the fact that she makes thought provoking and in that extremely current work. A piece of work that on this day was particularly well received at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance’s Riley Theatre.

Nicole Beutler - 1: Songs with Ibelisse Guardia (c) Anja BeutlerBeutler’s, 1:SONGS is an emotional dialogue about female heroines, which performer Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti executed in such a fragile, and powerful way that her words seemed to reverberate through the audience. What I found most intriguing was Ferragutti’s relationship with the five microphones; her means of connecting with the audience. At times she seemed to plead with them, coaxing them with husky words before swinging them around, kicking the stands to the floor and grasping three in her hands simultaneously as she screamed out song lyrics.

I always envy people who can sing. I admire people who can craft words into beautiful sounds, and I think Beutler’s pop concert format was what made it so accessible. I had my foot tapping, I was my nodding my head and joined in with the audience participation (although I am thankful that Ferragutti didn’t get me to sing a line). I felt part of the performance. I guess you may question why a predominately vocal performance is programmed into a dance festival. However, I think Juncture’s curator, Wendy Houstoun, understood that 1:SONGS is a dance. It is a dance of words, about tragedies females have faced through history and communicated to a modern day audience. With this in mind, 1:SONGS undoubtedly deserves its place in the festival.

I wanted to keep this review short and sweet, so I’ll just touch on one final aspect before I close. Beutler in the post-show question and answer suggested that the piece’s strength lies in the ability for Ferragutti to speak out, to be wild and explode with emotion, and then during the intermission between each song to reign it in, to be human. Her rasping breaths, the sweaty hair she has to push back off her face, and her ability to just speak normally to the audience are what keeps the piece going. We are shown the extremes of emotion and are left with a woman whose voice is almost breaking in the encore song. If this is not an honest and stripped back display of female strength, and a reminder of each female heroine’s strife then I don’t know what is. I cannot think of, nor have I seen a more potent way of communicating what 1:SONGS communicates, and as a result I feel genuinely touched by Ferragutti’s performance.

Charlotte Arnold
Juncture Young Blogger

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