Following the traces of the green table
(working title)

Choreographic project in two parts


Creation 2012 – Reflections on The Green Table
(working title)


premiere: November 14 & 15, 2012 at  Les Halles de Schaerbeek, Brussels (BE)

further touring:

November, 22, 23 & 24, 2012 at Centre Pompidou Beaubourg - Paris  in the frame of Festival d'Automne
March 22, 23, 2013 at Tanzquartier Wien (AT)

When developing my artistic project, I wanted to pursue the research work that began with the show
histoire(s), the principal themes of which are the history of dance and perception. Created in 2004 for the
kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, the starting point of histoire(s) is The Young Man and Death, Roland
Petit's legendary ballet, based on an argument by Jean Cocteau, which was first performed 25th June
1946 at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, in Paris. In order to create this performance, I went in search of
members of the audience who attended the première of this ballet in 1946, and I focused on the memories
they had retained of it, almost sixty years later, to gather its traces and combine them in a show that took
the form of a documentary video performance.

Today, I am working on The Green Table, the mythical ballet by Kurt Jooss, premiered on 3rd July 1932
at the same Théâtre des Champs Elysées, as part of the first choreographic contest held by the Archives
Internationales de la Danse, and for which he was awarded first prize. After the creation of histoire(s) I
wanted to work on a piece that I consider fundamental to dance history. The choice of the ballet on which
is based histoire(s) was not mine, as it was the result of a response to a commission from the Theater
Culturgest in Lisbon. The idea behind this commission was to create a short choreographic work to pay
tribute to The Young Man and Death, that was premièred in 2003. This proposal raised numerous
questions for me which are still central to my research, notably on the utility of living art, its impact and the
traces it can leave or otherwise for the audience. I accepted the Culturgest invitation because the chosen
ballet dealt with universal topics such as life, love and death, and also because the date of its premiere
and the time thereafter allowed me to put memory to the test.

I am interested by The Green Table as it is considered one of the most politically engaged works in the
History of Dance of twentieth century, in which the choreographer denounces the rise of fascism and war.
I consider these themes are very interesting in the historic context of its creation in 1932, just a few
months before Hitler came to power, but also afterwards.

The story of the show for me is also one of flight, exile and lands of adoption, for Kurt Jooss was
confronted by the first anti-Semitic laws, which threatened three of his colleagues, and they had to flee
fascist Germany in 1933, accompanied by all the members of his company. It is also the story of a dance
troupe that found itself grappling with the political events of its time.

The subjects that I would like to tackle in this project are big. They include the spectators’ memories, the
critical perception, the interpretation, the transmission, and the many questions about Kurt Jooss’s
company at the time, a company which came from Germany, won a choreographic contest in France and
then found themselves forced into exile in England before the war began. There is also the transatlantic
exile which I would like to examine, as some members of the company, the dancers Ernst Uthoff, Lola
Botka and Rudolf Pescht, decided to settle in Chile, after visiting the country during one of Ballets Jooss'
numerous tours and later founded the National Ballet of Chile.

I would also like to situate alongside these events Kurt Jooss’s career, during this turbulent and sombre
period of history, and the perspectives of the spectators from the various countries associated with it.
This project is structured in two parts, the first one, An introduction, has been premièred in August 2010 at
Festival Tanz Im August, in Berlin. The second part will be premièred in 2012

Watch a documentary about the realisation of the piece, produced by the coproducer Tansfonds >>here

Watch an interview with Olga de Soto >>here

In broad outline

Unlike the work developed in histoire(s), for which I principally focused on researching and compiling the
statements of spectators who witnessed the creation of the ballet, here I wanted to collect the traces left
by The Green Table. I collect these traces both through the people who had seen it and the dancers who
had performed and transmitted it, for it is also a study of the question of transmission through the
successive revivals which this ballet underwent.

Death is present in both ballets, in The Young Man and Death and in The Green Table. In the first one,
Death takes the shape of an idealized woman, dressed in a long, elegant white gown, with a cape, long
gloves and an impressive necklace. In the second one, a man half soldier, half skeleton, interprets the
role. In the first ballet, Death enters stage at the end of the show, after the Young Man has already
hanged himself; and in the second ballet Death is there, in the foreground or background, during the entire
performance. Here Death caresses his victims, he mingles with them, takes them in his arms, in contrast
to Death, so cold and distant, who takes the Young Man away.
I am interested by the impressions left by this performance on its different dancers, and particularly by the
impressions left on the dancers having performed the role of Death throughout the history of the ballet.

There is a central role in the history of the transmission of this ballet, Anna Markard, daughter of Kurt
Jooss, born one year before the premiere of the performance, and heiress of Jooss’s work. She has been
responsible for the transmission of this ballet for more than forty years.
Besides this truly important filiation, there is another one which touches me particularly, the one of Michael
Uthoff, dancer and choreographer, and his parents, Lola Botka and Ernst Uthoff, both dancers of The
Green Table at the time of its creation in 1932, and co-founders of the National Ballet of Chile. Michael
Uthoff played the role his father used to play in the ballet and he had occasionally performed the role of
Death, with the Joffrey Ballet. Moreover, in his capacity as director of various ballet companies in the
United States and in Latin America, he has often included The Green Table in the repertoire.
There are other dancers who could play an important part in the evolution of the project and who had
performed the role of Death, like Michael Uthoff, Christian Holder, Jean Cébron, Sylvain Boruel…


What traces remain in the memories of the people who created a show, a long time ago, or of the people
who, through their work, enable it to continue to exist today?

What does transmission involve? What does it mean to be a performer? What are the place and role of
the performers, the dancers in Dance History? How can we perform and transmit a work through the years
and the decades?

How does a work evolve within its own history? And within world history?

What is the impact of a politically engaged work in the memory of an audience, when it presented what
subsequently happened?


The Green Table is considered to be an indictment of war by some people, whilst for others it is a work
which denounces the rise of fascism. Inspired by a medieval dance macabre, this ballet was strongly
influenced by the post-war climate and is still renowned for its political engagement and for its pacifist
message. In it Kurt Jooss condemned the horrors of war, its crimes and consequences, through the fates
of the various characters, most of whom are at the mercy of Death, whose role is both complex and
central in equal measure.

The prologue and the epilogue take place around a green table, symbolising the sterile negotiations
between the men in power. From the second scene onwards, Death becomes the central figure in the
ballet and accompanies all of its victims.

According to the already collected information, The Green Table has almost never stopped being played
since its creation in 1932 until today. The company of Jooss kept the show in its repertory until the middle
of the sixties, giving some thousand shows of it all around the world. The first transmission was made in
1948 by Ballet Nacional de Chile, at a point in time where the company of Jooss still existed and while it
continued to play the show. In 1964, the ballet began to be performed regularly by other companies, with
a huge number of productions.

I also noticed with surprise that almost in a systemic way, every time new productions of this show were
made, the United States was directly or indirectly involved in a war.

KURT JOOSS: choreographer (1901 –1979)
The famous dancer and choreographer of German origin, Kurt Jooss is considered to be an emblematic
figure in the history of dance. Jooss’s career is closely connected with that of Laban, under whom he
studied and whose dances he performed in the 1920s. Jooss co-founded the Folkwangschule in Essen, in
1927, the hothouse of Germany dance from which emerged such figures as Pina Bausch, Suzanne Linke
and Reinhild Hoffmann. He founded the Folkwang Tanztheater in 1928, and is also acknowledged as one
of the founders of the Tanztheater.

In 1932, Jooss’s work The Green Table was awarded the first prize at the Archives Internationales de la
Danse competition, organised in Paris by Rolf de Maré, the founder of the Swedish Ballets. In 1933, Jooss
was ordered to dismiss all of the Jews associated with his company. He refused and was obliged to flee
Nazi Germany and find refuge in Holland, before moving to Dartington Hall in England. There he founded
the Jooss-Leeder school with his close associate Sigurd Leeder. In 1949, he returned to Essen, to
relaunch the theatre and dance department at the Folkwang School in Essen. His company closed down
in 1962. He nevertheless continued his choreographic career within various companies until his death in


The first module of this project, devoted mainly to research, comprises a significant documentation work
notably on the context of the creation and the transmission of the ballet, the search for witnesses and for
iconographic material (photographs of different dancers and films by different companies made at different

One of the objectives in this first module, also consists to tackle The Green Table under the opposite
angle of that chosen to tackle The Young Mand and Death in histoire(s), where I had chosen to work
without showing anything of the ballet itself. Here, part of the work has also consisted in conceiving a
dramaturgical articulation between several archive documents, photographs, and extracts of films. These
elements are used as a media to transmit the impact of The Green Table, and to allow the audience to
understand the importance of this fundamental work of Dance History.

This first module of the project is in a continuous research process, and its result takes the form of a
lecture-performance, where the starting point of the project, the questioning which is developed, the
research work and the paths which have emerged and have been followed during the documentation work
are examined from several angles and are shared with the audience. The contents of this lectureperformance
are led to evolve through time with the development of the research and documentation
work, while its form will remain unchanged.

An Introduction is a complex retracing of history, permeated by many-sided developments and
questionings: a moment of opening and of closeness, which accords as much importance to the sharing of
the working process with the audience as it does to the completion of the work itself. In her performance
the choreographer sketches out and pursues various tracks of a documentary work which in places
became a real investigation and collated unexpected discoveries into a collective process of recollection.

WITH TESTIMONIES OF (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE): Micheline Hesse, Brigitte Evellin, Suzanne Batbedat,
Françoise Olivaux, Frederic Stern, Françoise Dupuy and Michelle Nadal.
VIDEO EDITING: Julien Contreau and Olga de Soto
EXTRACTS FROM THE FILM: “The Green Table”, BBC 1967, BBC Motion Gallery.
VOICE OFF: Kurt Jooss (extract from the interview Berghson-Jooss, California, 1974, with Tanzarchiv
Köln's permission)
CREIDTS: Stéphan Higelin
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Kurt Hegel, Sacha Stone, Fritz Henle, as well as from unknow photographs. Three
picture of “The Green Table” by Albert Renger-Patzsch/Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv – Ann und Juergen
Wilde / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / SABAM, Belgium 2010.
DURATION: 1h10 minutes

PRODUCTION: NIELS (Brussels), in collaboration with Caravan Production (Brussels)
CO-PRODUCTION: CCN de Franche-Comté (Belfort/F), Les halles (Bruxelles/B), TanzWerkstatt Berlin/Tanz
im August (Berlin/A), Charleroi-Danses / Centre Chorégraphique de la Communauté française (Charleroi,
Bruxelles/B, for the reserch done in 2007 and 2008).
With the support of Ministère de la Communauté française de Belgique – Secteur danse, Jooss
Tanzarchiv (Koln/Amsterdam) at Deutschen Tanzarchives Köln.
This project has receive research grants from Ministère de la Communauté Française de Belgique –
Secteur Danse and Ministère de Culture et de la Communication (F).

RESIDENCIES OF RESEARCH: Centre National de la Danse – Pantin (2006), Centre Chorégraphique de la
Communauté française de Belgique – Charleroi/Danses (2006-2009).


This second part of the project around The Green Table will be developed almost simultaneously along
two axes: documentary research and choreography.

Research concerning perception and transmission of the work
This second section will be dedicated in part to researching and documenting the perception and
transmission of The Green Table: seeking out iconographic material (photographs of different dancers and
films made at different times); analysing the writing and choreographic characteristics of the work;
interviewing witnesses – dancers and audience members – and analysing and transcribing those
interviews as source material, allowing us to explore the issues they raise about the work itself as well as
about its history and reception. Transcription and analysis of interviews is part of the methodology
established during the creation of histoire(s), and is fundamental in interpreting and arranging the various
testimonies gathered.

Concurrent with this process of research and analysis, I would like to create a new work for eight dancers
in which documentary research will provide a fundamental source for addressing the original piece and
the issues of burden, as well as of both personal and collective engagement.

To this end, the group of dancers and I will examine the impressions – of the work, and of the multiple
conditions and contexts surrounding its reception – retained by interviewees, whether audience members
or the dancers who at various times performed the work, experienced it, and brought it to life. In analysing
these interviews, we will try to understand to what extent historical events were projected on the work
throughout the years, and how those very events influenced audiences’ reading of the piece.

One of the objectives will be to study the possibility of weaving a dialogue between us, here and now, and
the material offered by the people interviewed, which concerns past experiences. We will also work based
on our own various interpretations of these interviews, of the words but also of what their bodies and other
visible aspects tell us, in order to do something of our own, internalised, and presented on stage.

We will examine what weighs on the piece: the charge the work carries, but also what charges are borne
in an astonishing manner dancers from a particular era…

What are the charges weighing on the work? Where does this charge come from? Where is it found? How
is it released or absorbed by the work?

What charges are carried by the dancers, their bodies, physically and emotionally? What weighs on their
presence? Is it a light or heavy load to carry?

Of what could the dancers be uncharged? Of what could the piece be uncharged? And recharged? Can a
work be re-engaged without being recreated, reactivated and reinterpreted?

The importance of group: eight dancers
The concept of a group holds an important place in the piece itself, but was also important to the company
that created it in 1932 and that was forced by the engagement of the company to making critical choices.
For this reason it seems indispensable to me that my studio work not be confined to a purely individual
approach, but that my solitary work as a researcher should be accompanied by a group work that will
allow a different approach to questions of memory and collective perception.

Eight seems to me the minimum number of dancers necessary to work in such a way. To address the idea
of a group as an organic unit composed of several people and personalities, united by a shared place,
looking at the same work, is only possible if there are enough people to create such a group. To be a
group, a collective, a community, an association… The ideas of group, assembly, gathering, but also of
difference, faction, opposition, require enough people that the idea of a group can continue to exist even
when the number is cut in half.

The role of the image
The video will be based on interviews with dancers and audience members, and will be an extension of
the work done in histoire(s) and An introduction.

I will focus the screen writing on different thematic questions or axes which will, in part, arise from the
accounts given by witnesses. Hereby I address the material gathered through testimony as a substance
which can serve to connect the reproducible character of cinema with the finite presence of dancers on a
stage, a process I already sketched out in histoire(s). The role of the image in relation to the group will be
questioned, investigated, and elaborated through the ideas of simultaneity and/or succession.

The idea is to extend the documentary dimension of the film as an investigation of the concrete, today, but
something by which we could abstract ourselves, or from which we could subtract ourselves. It will be
accompanied by an investigation of the stratagem of listening, which will be created as part of the studio

Address the work as a group, address what it carries, its charge, what charge it carries today, what charge
might be added or removed, by a group from another era, facing issues both different and similar.

Our investigations and analyses will help us explore, feel, and work with the material characteristic of
ballet, as well as the material arising from documentation.

WITH: Fabian Barba, Alessandro Bernardeschi, Edith Christoph, Hanna Hedman,
Mauro Paccagnella, Enora Rivière.
VIDEO EDITING: Julien Contreau, Olga de Soto
LIGHT CREATION: Philippe Gladieux
SOUND CREATION: Mathieu Farrnarier
COSTUMES: Dorothée Catry

WITH TESTIMONIALS BY: Sylvain Boruel, Jeanne Brabants, Jacqueline Challet-Haas,
Françoise Dupuy, Thomas Hartmann, Christian Holder, Bruno Jacquin, Philip
Lansdale, Michèle Nadal, Juan Allende-Blin, Ann Hutchinson Guest, Marina Grut,
Hermann Markard, Renate Pook, Toer van Schayk, Jeanette Vondersaar and


Production of Creation 2012 – Reflections on The Green Table (working title)

PRODUCTION: Niels & Caravan Production COPRODUCTION: Joint Adventures/Tanzwerkstatt Europa (Munich), Les
Halles (Brussels), Culturgest (Lisbon), Festival d’Automne à Paris, Les Spectacles vivants - Centre Pompidou (Paris),
Tanzquartier (Wien), Centre Chorégraphique National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon (CCNM) in the frame of
Jardin d'Europe - with the support of the European Union, Open Latitudes (Les Halles-Brussels, Latitudes
Contemporaines-Lille, Le Manège de Mons / Maison Folie-Mons, Cialo Umysl Foundation-Warsaw, Teatro delle
Moire-Milan, Sin Arts and Culture Centre-Budapest, Le phénix, scène nationale de Valenciennes, l’Arsenic-Lausanne)
- with the support of the European Union.

FUNDED BY TANZFONDS ERBE, an initiative by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

WITH THE SUPPORT OF: La Fédération Wallonie-Brussels, Archives Jooss (Köln/Amsterdam), Deutsches Tanzarchiv
Köln. WITH THE ADDITIONAL SUPPORT OF: Centre de développement chorégraphique d’Uzès

This project had received research grants from the French Ministry for Culture and Communication and from the
French CommunityWallonie-Brussels for the development of the documentary




Research and documentation work occasionally since the Automne of 2006, thanks to research grants from Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication (F) and Ministère de Communauté française de Belgique and a research residency at Centre National de la Danse – Pantin, in 2006 and at Charleroi-Danses, in 2006 & 2007.

- 31st October 2009: Encounter with Olga de Soto to discuss the show “histoire(s)” and
her new project, IETM, La Laboral, Gijón (Spain)
- 20th November 2009: Encounter with Olga de Soto to discuss the show “histoire(s)”
and her new project, Automne en Normandie, Rouen (France)
- from 4th to 7th March 2010: Pedagogical intervention, Ruhr Biennial 2010, Folkgwan
Hochschule, Essen. Students from Universities of Berlin, Frankfurt, Essen, Mannheim
and Koln.
- 11th June 2010: Conference at Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, mov_s.
- 2nd October 2010: Conference « Du regard à l'oeuvre : autour de la réception en
danse », Université de Lyon II, in the frame of Biennale de la Danse de Lyon 2010.
- 13th February 2011: Conference « Art tu, art dit », organised by Ode après l'Orage (F.
& D. Dupuy), Théâtre de la Cité Internationale, Paris (F).
- from 6th to 12th March 2012: Pedagogical intervention at 3. Dance Education Biennale /
Cultural Heritage in Dance, University of Frankfurt.



25/08 & 26/08/2010 : Festival Tanz Im August, Berlin (première)
26 & 27/10/2010 : Les halles de Schaerbeek, Prési-danses, Brussels.
09/02/2011 : Mercat de les Flors / Derivas, Barcelone.
06/04/2011 : Tanzquartier, SCORES #3, Wien.
17/04/2011: Springdance, Utrecht (NL).
20/06/2011 : Festival Uzès Danse, Uzès (F).
06/10/2011: Festival Latitudes Lille Bruxelles, Les Halles, Brussels
08/11-09/11/2011: Culturgest, Lisbon (P).
14/12-15/12/2011: Centre Pompidou, Paris (F).
12/02/2012: Festival Pays de Danse, CC d'Engis, Engis (B).
27 & 28/10/2012: Teatro Escala, SESC Bom Retiro, Sao Paulo, Brazil (BR).


Periodically (provisional schedule):
occasional interpreter (translator)

• EDITING OF THE VIDEO – Team : Olga de Soto + Julien Contreau (video editor) + a sound

from 04/07 to 08/07/11 (1 week): Workshop in Brussels (B)
from 26/09 to 09/10/11 (2 weeks): CCN Montpellier (F)
from 16/07 to 31/07/12 (2 weeks): Les Halles, Brussels (B)
from 10/09 to 14/09/12 (1 weekk: Théâtre de la Place, Liège (B)
from 08/10 to 19/10/12 (2 weeks): place to be defined + residencies of creation

07/08/2012: Tanzwerkstatt Europa, Munich (D)


The choreographer and dancer Olga de Soto was born in Spain and has lived in Brussels since 1990.
After training in classical dance, contemporary dance and music theory in her native country, at the
Academy of Music and Dance and the Royal Conservatory in Valencia and Madrid, Olga de Soto trained
with the prestigious CNDC school in Angers, directed at the time by Michel Reilhac.

As a dancer, she has worked with: Michèle Anne de Mey in the performances Trois danses hongroises de
Brahms, Sinfonia Eroica
and Châteaux en Espagne; Pierre Droulers, in the show Comme si on était leurs
petits poucets
and the project Thé dansant, that she coordinated for more than a year at Plateau -
Brussels; Claudio Bernardo, for the creation of Dilatatio; Felix Ruckert, in the show Hautnah! and Meg
Stuart, as performer in Crash Landing @ Leuven, amongst others. In recent years, she has worked with
Boris Charmatz in the show Con forts fleuve and with Jérôme Bel for over five years as an assistant and
performer in the show The Show Must Go On, presented in numerous countries throughout the world.
She began her creation work, focusing on choreographic research and writing in 1992, with the production
of the solo Patios, which is based on the analysis of four études for piano by Claude Debussy. It was
presented for the first time at the Festival Bellone-Brigittines in Brussels and subsequently performed in
several European countries.

A year later, Olga created a second solo work, I believe that if I act… (…upon the dimension of time it will
be difficult to find myself at the place where I am expected to be)
, in Norway. In 1995, she began to
explore other forms and formats and created the show A destiempo (at the Bergen Internasjonale Teater,
in Norway) and the installation Sueño (for the Park Güell in Barcelona).

Part of her research and writing work has been created through a dialogue with the analysis of musical
works by contemporary composers, including Salvatore Sciarrino, Michael Jarrell, Kaija Saariaho,
Stefano Scodanibbio, Frederic Rzewski and Denis Pousseur amongst others, whilst working for several
years at the IRCAM in Paris.

In 1996, she created the duet Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues at the Centre for Choreographic Development
in Toulouse. In 1997, she created the solo Murmures for Festival de la Nouvelle Danse in Uzès and the
duets Strumentale, at the Teatro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico DF, and Seuls bruits des corps entre eux,
which was presented along with the three previous pieces under the collective title Paumes, a suite of
short pieces which explored various relations with contemporary music, for the first time in 1997 at the
Théâtre de la Balsamine in Brussels. In 1999 she created anarborescences at the Théâtre de la Cité
Internationale in Paris; in 2001, Eclats mats at the Centre Pompidou; in 2004, INCORPORER, at the
Centre Pompidou, the first accompanied solo in a series of four; and histoire(s), created at the
KunstenFESTIVALdesArts in Brussels in 2004. In that same year, she began the project to create a suite
of accompanied solos that was to last for five years, which saw the creation of INCORPORER ce qui
(accompanied solos #1 and #2), at the Centre Chorégraphique National de Franche-Comté in
Belfort in 2006, INCORPORER ce qui reste ici au coeur (accompanied solos #1, #2 and #3), in 2007 at
the Biennale Charleroi/Danses 07 in Brussels, and INCORPORER ce qui reste ici au dans mon coeur,
at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2009.

For about a decade, Olga’s work has concentrated on the theme of “memory”, examined along two lines:
the first focuses on the memory of the body, presented in such pieces as Murmures, Eclats mats and the
suite of accompanied solos INCORPORER ce qui reste ici au dans mon coeur, whilst the second
focuses on perceptive memory, that of the spectators, notably in the show histoire(s).

Olga de Soto has now taken up administrative residency at La Raffinerie-Charleroi/Danses / Centre for
Choreography of the French Community of Belgium, in Brussels, after being awarded a research and
creation residency in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2007 by the same institution.

Olga de Soto has now taken up administrative residency at La Raffinerie – Charleroi/Danses / Centre
Chorégraphique de la Communauté française de Belgique in Brussels and is an associate artist at Les
Halles, in Brussels.

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