Interview with Nicole Beutler
choreographer of 6: THE SQUARE

About Nicole Beutler
Choreographer and theatre maker Nicole Beutler (Munich, 1969) lives and works in Amsterdam. After studies of Fine Arts at Münster and München Arts Academies and of German Literature at the University of Münster, she came to study Dance and Choreography at the SNDO at the Theaterschool in Amsterdam where she graduated in 1997. Since she produces work that is situated on the threshold of dance, performance and visual arts. She works from the conviction that fixed categorizations should be destabilized. With her precise and clear visual language she enables new perspectives on the complexity of human endeavour. The balance of content and form are cautiously weighed and underneath all her works dwells a socio-political drive.

In 2009 Nicole set up her company NBprojects. With NBprojects she is a regular player at Frascati Theater and Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam and touring in the Netherlands and abroad (for an overview of our tournee’s see the calendar at www.nbprojects.nl). Balancing at the threshold between categories the work is repeatedly performed at international dance- as well as theatre festivals and in the visual arts context.

Do you notice a difference in audience between different countries and/or cities?
Yes there is a difference. The context makes the people. In general the Netherlands are quite saturated, there is so much cultural activity on offer. In other countries the theatres are full and most of the time the public is eager to receive, to discuss ideas in-depth and hungry for the poetry and reflection that theatre has to offer. Theatre becomes food for the soul. Sometimes I miss that urgency in the Netherlands.

What is your opinion on the social relevance of theatre?
Theatre brings people together, as a binding instrument. The danger of the ‘live-ness’ adds necessary realness to our lives. It is a special occasion where a group of people  - a body of spectators - comes together to concentrate on one experience, in collaboration with the performers, lighting and technical crew. A counter proposal to the dominant virtual worlds surrounding our daily life. Spending time together, as opposed to the quick fix of fast stories.

What drives you to be creative?
Dissatisfaction with the world that surrounds us in everyday life.

Where did the idea come from to work with square dance?
We wanted to work on the meaning of the square for our lives and create composed theatre, so we were curious about square dancing.

Square Dance is a social dance that produces fascinatingly complicated, mathematical patterns, like an occult organism with inherent codes – creating a woven mosaic. In Square Dance there are four couples and one caller. This creates a potential for hierarchy.
The creation of the complexity of interaction all depends on the smooth collaboration of the eight dancers moving and working together. The individual is essential to create the group movement, so he/she is indispensable, but also unimportant as individual at the same time. Caught in a system, making the system work. The square is a manmade construction, a system or form for cultivating nature.

How would you describe your technique? Do you practice order and regularity or do you prefer working from chaos?
I work in a constant discussion of order and chaos, of intuition and concept, between the Apollonian and the Dionysian principle, ratio and pleasure – with a regular engagement.

Where does your fascination for geometric shapes come from?
After the budget cuts in the arts (in 2012) I made a couple of political pieces. The anger I felt regarding the climate in the Netherlands was a big motor for the performances: Antigone, Piece and Shirokuro are all dark and aggressive pieces. Then I felt my point was made, I – as an artist - wanted to go back to basic, back to the beginning. How comes (dance)art into being? What are the primary ingredients?
The artists connected to the Bauhaus School proposed constructing the world in relation to the way we live on the base of three elementary geometric shapes; circle, square and triangle.  I took this Bauhaus ABC as a starting point, first for the structure of the performance 4: STILL LIFE and later as the base for three performances: 5: ECHO (on the base of the circle), 6: THE SQUARE and next year we create the last part of the trilogy with 7: TRIPTYCHON (triangle).

The way I make theatre is looking for the undercurrent, what is the underlying connecting agent to the human condition today. My performances do not work as a mirror for everyday life. I attempt to find universal signs and the reading of the in between by moving away from the material of the objects. By the way, geometry and spirituality are closely linked together. Most abstract artists developed their artistic language on the base of spiritual thinking at the turn of the last century. I am especially fascinated by the poetic abstraction of Hilma af Klint.