World history and the history of an artwork are interwoven in the testimony and the processes of transmission Olga de Soto painstakingly documents while maintaining a certain suspense and twists worthy of an adventure novel. In the guise of a conference, the performer intelligently constructs her position as author – deictics and direct appeals to the audience highlight their involvement – and manages her staging.
Pippo Delbono, interviewed by the journalist Laura Valente, about An Introduction: I saw this work in Spain and I was very impressed by this performance that tells us the story of another show, designed to hit the heart of Hitler's dictatorship. I remember an immense emotion when I saw Pina dancing, as a young woman. And I understood the reasons behind that career within a theater with a high political content.
Laura Valente, Nessuna paura : il programma lo fa Pippo Delbono, La Repubblica (IT), June 26,2015
Olga de Soto, on the other hand, in An Introduction, starts by studying and gathering all traces of the première of The Green Table by Kurt Jooss. She talks to people who knew him and builds up her own archive of photos, conversations, souvenirs, notes and documentation, reviving the memory of this important work in the international history of dance. In this way, not only does she bring together material on the long life of The Green Table in the repertoire of theatres throughout the world – from the outset to recent years, long after the deaths of the choreographer and the initial performers – but in her lecture performens she also shows, like Nachbar, that archives can be performed and therefore have life. She includes photos in her work and, unusually, invites audiences to look at them together. She also revives the atmosphere of the past and associated events. The way she works, step by step, can be compared to the research process of a historian or even an archaeologist, if we accept Michel Foucault’s definition, according to which the archaeologist does not attempt to recreate the intentions of those had ideas about the world, their thoughts and values, but rather aims for a systematic description of their discussions. Thus, Olga de Soto, talking about her research work and gradually producing successive “material proof”, has given birth to a discussion process regarding the legendary Green Table.
The consistent lecture - titled An Introduction - gets its warmth from the video recordings in which people describe their first-hand experiences. Talking about dance makes the narrators also move and go over their emotional experiences. The lecture acquires a subtle stamp of a performance as the lecturer hands out to the audience the photographs she has found around the theme. Little by little, the whole audience gets the role of the researcher as they lightly touch the treasures of the archives, black-and-white pictures that open up the stormy history of The Green Table.
Jukka O. Miettinen, Dance performance predicted Fascism, Helsingin Sanomat (FI), Nov. 4, 2013
The thought that sticks to mind from presentation is precisely the history of dance and its invisibility in Finnish cultural debate and academic research. Dance creations are born in a certain time and place and they reflect their own birth moments in a variety of ways. A creation is not only a set of steps created by a choreographer. Dance is also a way of seeing reality. Therefore it is puzzling that the history of dance has been completely disregarded (…). I don’t understand why the history of dance would be less important than art history, music history or literary history. In the fine text by Leena Pallari, Aku Ahjolinna [former Finnish ballet dancer] says: “There will be nothing…left from us to the next generations, and nobody will ever know that we have been in this profession.”
Liisa Vihmanen, A Green Table and A Red Skirt, Liikekieli (FI), Nov. 4, 2013
In this performance, the choreographer presented her research and introduced the creative process and the dramaturgic questioning which anticipated a much larger production to come. Constructed on the basis of images, of texts and of filmed interviews, this introductive conference was thought of by Olga de Soto as a performance in itself, founded on a dramaturgy regulated by a dual relation with time: from the present towards the past, and towards the future. (…) Olga de Soto is an important choreographer, demanding, profoundly concerned with dance, art, politics and life, about with she asks essential questions. A choreographer who looks to the past so she may face the future.
If re-enacting a work of choreography is accepted and understood because the transmission of gesture forms a part of the memory of dance – more visual than written – the question is asked in other terms for a performance which makes re-enactment one of its central issues and concerns. Because video, photography, and objects, these “dead things” that museums keep as traces of actions that may or may not be renewed, are part of the memory of performance.
This Green Table, for example, you literally wanted to put it on the table. Like a centrepiece you would have to cut out, a body you would auscultate, as if you had undertaken to see how things become what they are. It is not enough for you to know that this work by Kurt Jooss is doubtless central to the origin of political dance – you would say socio-political – it is not so much this History which seems to matter to you, but all the others: those which lead to it and those which flow from it. At the heart of your work, we find the word “process” which is to say progression. And it’s very useful because we seriously lack people who are interested in pivotal moments. At what precise moment things change, how a movement, a change, an upheaval, a disaster takes shape and how it gains strength…