PRESS

ONTMOETINGEN / ENCOUNTERS

 

BLONDES HAVE NO SOUL

1. [Jean-Gabriel NANCEY, Effet d’art : nudité, enfin !, in Danse. European dance news (Paris), n° 270, 2012, p. 55].

‘Blondes have no soul was put on the stage of L’Avant-Seine, Théâtre de Colombes, Paris, on the 22th of november 2011. It is a complete solo performance, choreographed and interpreted by Pé Vermeersch. She holds a MA in philosophy, she is a singer and a visual artist. After having worked in Japan and India she founded her own company.

It is a fetching creation in which body and spirit are one, wherein the body is spirit, wherein it is the spirit. Since 2001 this piece has repeatedly been brought on stage in Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan, France and Spain. Its length is of one or two hours. Floating in a universe of her own, [Pé] vivifies her own purified aesthetics. In full presence [Pé] evokes the spiritual, the absolute, the supernatural ; unlimitedly she shares her approach of the sacred [with the public].

In dazzling licht : a woman’s body with golden reflections against a white ground ; no music –that would be too much— but sinking silences tore apart by surprising fulgurations; and, above all, silence, sometimes the [performer’s] voice. The artist’s melodic intonations lead to plenitude, to unity, to the body’s simplicity. ‘To make appear the invisible …’

Nudity is not, as so often, a pretext ; neither is it an ingredient, nor a means to render e.g. force or frailty, gift or truth, attraction or despair, nor the expression thereof. [Nudity] is not linked to some moment of an act, nor to some quest of symbolism, aestheticism or realism. This nudity, ultimately, is devoid of any sign-ification, of what common sense understands by it. It is the essence of a performance that is not at all narrative and not at all intended to be purely visual, a performance which is essentially abstract. Movement and gesture are refined in a natural way, precious ; they do not belong to some contemporary vocabulary, poor and average ; convention is alien to them. One decries no repetition, no commonplace, nothing that is standard. The contemplator –elevated—is bathed in a sometimes tangible, sometimes immaterial humanity, sensible and pure, in a beauty that is sublime. Art’s effect has replaced the senses’ impact. The bet is won.

This is a kind of spectacle, so original, creative, elegiac, multidisciplinary, so wholly different of contemporary dance and of the complete theatre history of the past centuries that another word than ‘dance’ should be invented to describe this performance, unless ‘dance’ comprises every truly living spectacle’.

2. [Angélica TANARRO, Tensión desnuda en un mundo asolado, in El Norte de Castilla, 01.02.2005]

‘At dinnertime the news serves us the violence of the world, but the images do not touch us anymore. We have been vaccinated. We are the result of different submissions. The world is a place of uncertainty, where also the forces of nature are rebelling. But in a few minutes, a paradise can become hell. Entangled in enforced conflict we live in a never ending state of restlessness. Art devotes itself to this restless human creature. With different codes though, but that is its task. It is remarkable that very often the spectator finds exactly this more difficult to accept than the portions of horror brought to us by the media.

The past year, the Belgian Pé Vermeersch showed on different locations in Spain her work Blondes have no soul. Also the public of Valladolid had … the chance to witness her creation. Let us hope it will not be the last time. Let us hope that performances like this one will give back to spaces like this [=the Patio Herreriano of Valladolid] the tension they once possessed and they should regain …

Pé Vermeersch does not chose for big breakpoints. Her aim is somewhere else. From a space she entitles as a ‘reflection space’ she makes perceive this human being, entering in conflict to itself, to the others, in a hostile environment. And this she achieves with the tension of the nudity.

The bodily nudity. Totally alone and totally naked she moves in a white space, demarcated in the white walled hollow space. A white adhesive tape carefully marks off the conventional ‘stage’ from the void.

No support other than the self. No liberating music that could make this tension more bearable. No sound except for her breath, for her body hitting the dance floor, for the light slap of the coming down, for a kind of wailing chant or psalm she breaks into at a few moments … Some deafening sound flashes of a few seconds at the most, cleaving like a knife the performance’s athmosphere, round out the soundscape.

Departing from an austere and abstract aesthetics and from a realistic content Vermeersch creates a work with the beauty of the terribly human. And with its force.

One hour of wonderful and collected beauty’.

3. [Pilar HERNANDEZ MATEO, Danza contemporánea en el teatro y en las calles de Cádiz, in Diario de Cádiz, 28.10.2004].

‘This is a very innovative project, very daring and radical, as the artist defines her own work. ‘It will not leave anyone unaffected’ (Antonio Castillo)’.

4. Rosalía GOMEZ, La solidez de la danza urbana, in Diario de Sevilla, 02.11.2004, p. 42].

‘In the entrance hall of the Centro Andaluz de Teatro, one could admire, this sunday, someone who was a big discovery for the connoisseurs : the Belgian Pé Vermeersch with her installation/performance Blondes have no soul.

On a white lineoleum, descending from above like one single huge wave and finding a standstill at the feet of the spectators, Pé is dancing during two hours –-the public can stay as long as they decide by themselves-– naked and unprotected, without one corner, nor moment to hide for the conscious eye of the spectator. Like a living cell the dancer pulsates, reacts to stimuli we can not perceive, seeks every moment for the most precarious balance and contradiction of powers threatening to disperse her light body : like this she creates a dance, free and independent, taking for beacon sometimes a deep chanting welling up from her bowels and contrasting with her delicate lightness or, sometimes, with a few shreds of sound or music. Patiently, many were waiting outside the gateway for them to leave the space, to take their place and to admire her art.’

5. [Désirée ORTEGA CERPA, Las rubias no tienen alma, in Diario de Cádiz, 06.11.2004, p.61.]

‘White does not exist, except as an amalgam of all the prism’s colours. In the same way the Belgian artist [Pé Vermeersch] is fusing all styles, tendencies she ever learned, to let them diffuse in a universe of snow and moonlight, only contrasted by the whiteness of her skin and by her silhouette. Because Pé Vermeersch presents herself naked, alone, deprived from all artifice or eroticism, inviting the spectator to a simple contemplation of her body as a moving object, and this she does utterly consequent.

The dancer transmits to the audience the honesty and courage of her enterprise which is being realized as an extreme research of the physical limits. She explores the space in every millimeter, being very conscious of herself, and constructing and deconstructing a choreography that reminds movements of animals and insects, the soundscore being composed by herself with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her body and of her own voice, when she raises a chant reminding psalms or prayers.

Her presence on the stage is conceived either as an installation of an art work (where the public can decide by itself its position and time), or, like in Cádiz, as a more traditional stage work.

In the first possibility her work probably functions in a perfect way : in a tangential parallel, her work matches the conceptual parameters of contemporary art with its mobiles or moving sculptures. Her delight in the body’s virtuosity is enriched by the results of her research and by that very soul, soul of which blondes are –-according to the performance’s title– deprived.’

6. [ José HENRIQUEZ, Pies desnudos, ojos abiertos. IX ‘Em pé de pedra’ en Compostela, in Primer Acto, summer 2004.]

‘A child has entered on its bicycle, with his mother, in the tremendous empty nave of the Ferretería C.V.Otero. From time to time it glances at Pé Vermeersch, who is unfolding on a white dance floor her dance and her chants, with her tight body and bird’s profile, for two evenings and during two full uninterrupted hours, in this very uncommon performance ‘Dance for visitors’ forming part of this edition [of the ‘Em pé de pedra’ festival]. The spectators come and go at will. The construction’s skylights and two strong spotlights create a wide space of pure white light and changing shadows, as the evening falls and the dancer traces her figures, alternating moments of rest with minimal gestures and movements, shapes of a mastered, ritual dance. ‘And why she cannot fly ?’ the child asks, and later, as an explanation of a short sound : ‘a storm !’. After a few minutes the child whispers to his mother : ‘she does not wear any clothes..’. Her beautiful pink body is resting on the whiteness, from the ground it raises a deep sounding psalm’.

7. [Carlos GIL, Ciudad, paisaje y movimiento. Festival Internacional de Danza para paseantes en Pé de Pedra, in Artez, nr. 8, 2004, p. 60-61.]

‘The old Ferretería next to the Galán Theatre was the space chosen by the Belgian Petra Vermeersch to propose to us her marvellous performance Blondes have no soul, presented as if it were an exposition.

Here, on a white dance floor in a ramshackled warehouse, she danced in a grand manner and, seemingly improvising, non-stop during two hours. The nakedness, the full light, the strength radiating from her harmonious expression, the use of different forms of body language, the subtlety of her movements being woven into a hypnotising continuum, [all this] brought about intangible and elusive sensations and created a never ending and vast state of susceptibility. A heartwarming experience…’.

 

MAKING THE SKIES MOVE

 

IT ORGANS THE BODY / HET ORGELT

[‘Ce n’était pas surprenant qu’on avait choisi la Cathédrale en tant que podium pour deux des autres spectacles auxquels j’ai assisté : Oostenwind (‘Vent d’est’)… et Het orgelt in mijn lijf’ (néologisme, litt.: ‘cela ‘orgue’ dans mon corps’). Ceci était un solo de la danseuse Pé Vermeersch, avec, à l’orgue, Louis Robilliard. La musique était de César Franck.

La chorégraphie et l’interprétation de ce solo, ininterrompu pendant 60 minutes et créé pour cette occasion, étaient excellentes. C’était fabuleux de voir comment ce solo de danse contemporaine occupait toute la nef centrale de la cathédrale, fascinant l’audience de deux milles personnes de la première à la dernière minute’]