A magisterial lesson in direction in service of bodies’ memory. (…) Even more than the symbolic power of the original ballet, the characters of which we discover through the stories of the performers (The Diplomats, The Partisan, Death, The Profiteer), we are struck by the emotion of these latter, when they share with us the feelings that went through them while they danced, and their unease with the emotion they felt from the audience. (…) The dancers’ intelligence and depth of insight, the quality of their memories, but also their honesty when doubt surprises them concerning a detail of the choreography, render Kurt Jooss’s universal idea: to denounce war, war profiteers, and above all make the audience aware of its responsibility. The Green Table ends as it began, in front of the negotiating table where, we now know, no meaningful discussion can occur, because the Diplomats are in reality the warmongers. We are rarely given the opportunity to delve so deep into the heart of choreographic writing. We re-emerge with the strange certainty of having witnessed a performance of The Green Table. A successful communication that infiltrates deep within us. Brilliant.
A long and meticulous work, focusing on communication. Everything is included in Olga de Soto’s show in her habitually precise manner. The historic facts collide with the most intimate personal emotions. (…) The Green Table (Der grüne Tisch) is among those works that leave indelible impressions with its expressionist power, its vile masked characters, its negotiating table where games and bets sound the depths of history. The ballet possesses a prescient dimension, as it announces the horrors to come. (…) The timeliness of the work is self-evident. The bankers, the profiteers, the refugees, the partisan, the flag-bearer, the guns are still here, as they were eighty years ago. (…) As with histoire(s) before it, Débords / Réflexions sur "La Table Verte” is not presented as a documentary, but as a theatrical work undertaken by a company. “I didn’t choose these works”, the choreographer goes on to say, “because of the time which separates us from them, but because of the content, the subjects they address and the context of their creation, both linked to post-war periods.” With her, we learn much, and intelligently.
Where other choreographers insist on dancing yet again a work from the past to immortalise its form in a new interpretation, Olga de Soto demonstrates the power of testimony, thereby insisting that the impact of what has been experienced says more about the work than any contemporary updating. (…) To tell what we remember, what we have experienced, with our forgettings, our moments of hesitation, that is what is at the heart of Débords / Réflexions sur La Table Verte. The title Olga de Soto has chosen confirms this overflowing of sources, of archives, and all those moments in which, in the collected testimony, personal history and collective history, what Christian Boltanski elsewhere has called small memory and large memory, meet. (…) If in the case of histoire(s) and Débords / Réflexions sur La Table Verte, words displace images which would be those of the dance, Olga de Soto nevertheless creates a work of choreography when she prefers to let words more than gestures dance before our eyes, the way Chris Marker was a director when he chose to show, instead of images of carnage from the war in the former Yugoslavia, the testimony of a French “blue beret” recounting “his” experience of the war (Casque bleu, 1995). histoire(s) and Débords / Réflexions sur La Table Verte are not only milestones in the constitution of the memory of dance and an alternative to the way in which we might write the “history of dance”; these two works also have the quality and the capacity not just to be placed within history, but to face history, which is to say, to become necessary witnesses to the past.
Begun in 2006, Olga de Soto’s work on The Green Table had its first scenic materialisation in 2010 with Une Introduction (An Introduction). 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. (…) This performance brought together the material filmed over the years and confronted it with six performers on the stage. Six performers who do not try to enter a relation of force, lost in advance, with the video image and the content it transmits, but to make it seen. How can we “carry” this heavily charged image? How can we discharge it, or recharge it? How can we make the gaze circulate? How do you displace the spaces this discourse generates? (…) 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.
What remains of it today? How to invite the past on stage? (…) By not promoting restoration, but by reactivating, without intervening, the evidence through testimony, Olga de Soto presents the full extent of the work. The voyage is historical, but is also intimate. (…) On stage, how to interact with the projection surface of the screens? With its six dancers, the choreography is visited by an avalanche of questions: How can one carry this memory? How can one dig within the image? How can one reveal it through physical and mental displacement? A long journey which is not commemorative, but memorable, is promised.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the work of Olga de Soto is that it is not necessary to have seen or even to know about The Green Table. Because to the extent that the speakers evoke this work that they, for their part, know perfectly, a sort of substitute memory plays its part among even those spectators who known nothing: it is the memories of others which, piece by piece, build in the mind an image, different for everyone, of what the work might have been: thus, it is words alone which create the fictive image of a dance performance, which is to say the image of a form of expression which, precisely, has nothing to do with words. (…) Far from being reduced to a documentary, the work of Olga de Soto is a creation of its own, which itself asks questions about what defines a work of art, and what artistic experience is, both for the artists who create it and for the audience who receive it. It allows us to reflect both on the deep roots of this work in its time and context, but also on what might be a universally valid “message”.