THE STATEMENT (webcast)
15/04/2020 - 17/04/2020
COVID-19 Lockdown Festival 2020
NDT is proud to present ‘The Statement’ by Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite!
After its premiere in 2016, the piece was performed worldwide and received critical acclaim by both the Dutch and foreign press that honed in on its jarring relevance in a neoliberal capitalist world. Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant professed it to be become an NDT classic and “a contemporary successor to Kurt Jooss’s Green Table.” – ★★★★★
According to Pite herself “’The Statement’ is a wedge of realism; cold and current. We recognize both the characters and the language as being of our world and our time. ‘The Statement’ is a one-act play, with four characters locked in their own battle for control, and with the morality of their actions: they have been tasked with fueling a conflict in a distant country. […] Now, being asked to take responsibility for their actions in order to exonerate their superiors, a conflict is rising within their department.”
Dance-theatre , Dance , Contemporary dance ,
A political statement with tenderness and benevolent intent.
Review by Caitlin Halmarick 19th Apr 2020
Art is innately political. It is constantly probing at the underlying thoughts and feelings of its audiences and therefore forces us to contend with the political values and experiences we have. NDT’s (Netherlands Dance Theatre) online presentation of Crystal Pite’s The Statement beautifully illustrates theatre and dance’s ability to make political statements with tenderness and benevolent intent.
Marketed as a play, The Statement encompasses gestural dance, contemporary dance, and pre-recorded spoken word as its accompanying sound. The dialogue is the driving force of the piece, with the dancers interpreting the script with ‘everyday’ gesture that eventually elaborates into athletic contemporary dance. Written by Pite’s frequent collaborator Jonathon Young, The Statement’s script is a preeminent part of the play. Along with the set of a large boardroom table and costumes of business attire, the script provides a clear context and setting of a politically influenced department needing to provide a statement of working independently to “upstairs”, after the strike of tragedy. With the opening lines of “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God”, the audience is brought into a world of desperation and calamity. Young’s writing cleverly exposes the information needed to have a firm grasp on the context of the scene whilst leaving enough mystery around the exact people involved, the specific misfortune that occurred, and the consequences of peoples’ actions and inactions. As a result, the audience can easily relate to the play as it is a common political issue of our time; superiors in a company ordering a department to release a public statement that places the blame of a tragic conflict on the department itself and not on the orders of those in a superior position.
Apart from the spoken word, the main language used in The Statement is gestural, interactive dance. This keeps the situation very relatable to the audience as the movements presented are an everyday occurrence in their own lives in a situation that is relatable to all in the workforce. When an audience feels that they can relate to what is being presented they are more open to deep engagement and receiving new ideas, which therefore enables The Statement to create more of an impact with its political message of superiors exercising control, and conflicting moralities. Once the context and intention are clearly set, the everyday gestural movement is then extrapolated into a more athletic, abstract contemporary dance that draws focus to the interaction of the dancers’ whole bodies. It is common for Pite’s works to use this technique of establishing a clear, relatable narrative using ‘pedestrian’ movement, and then taking the established premise and expanding, using the dancers’ full range of motion and expression in abstract dance and physical interaction, resulting in a clear message being conveyed.
The Statement made a huge impact on me personally, and how I view theatre and dance’s cultural responsibility, and ability to explain the seemingly unexplainable when regarding current events. Art is innately political and philosophical, and dance should be a contributing voice to this expression. Dance should not simply be a form of escapism, a way to flee one’s troubles and enter another world of make-believe and all-encompassing benevolence (although that is, of course, a valuable element of dance), but also is a method of discussing the political and moral concerns of each generation in society. The Statement is an exemplary demonstration of exactly how art and dance can achieve this. It is a fictional insider’s look into a political circumstance that today’s world often finds itself in, and I applaud Pite for creating a political work without being too unsympathetically forthright.
Choreographer Crystal Pite has been quoted saying, “Art is meant to keep channels open towards the humane”, and The Statement achieves this to no end. Apart from being a worldly, political piece, The Statement allows the audience to draw value from what they discover about themselves in the process of observing this inquisitive work of art.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer