Play a guessing game: who saw the performance?


Inta Balode

Almost two years ago in September in Aarhus Denmark there was an encounter of Nordic Baltic dance network “kedja”. And there was also a dance writing seminar. We did write different texts. And to be more “different” me and my Lithuanian colleague dance critic Ingrida Gerbutavi?i?t? we invented a task for ourselves. We decided to do “cheating writing”- she went to see the performance, I didn’t go to see the performance, I only read the program notes. But we both wrote short reviews and on the next day asked participants of writing seminar to guess the author of which text has seen the performance. Believe me or not but the guesses were very contradictory. Now I’m in Vilnius at the New Baltic Dance ’13 festival where Ingrida Gerbutavi?i?t? is organizing seminar for dance writers Ne[w]kritika (local activity of Nordic Baltic project Writing Movement). We go and see the performances and yesterday the last one was Fjer og stiletter (Feathers and Heels) by dadadans (performed by Helle Bach) from Denmark. So I finally saw the performance I wrote about two years ago. And the main conclusion is – it is much nicer to see than not to see! Bellow is the text we wrote in Denmark. Chance to play a guessing game!


I am lucky, I have Danish speaking people next to me, so I get to know what the title means – Feathers and heels. Everything what makes taller, everything what expands person beyond her limits in order to reduce to the minimum the presence of real human body.

How to deal with the dancer’s body which is getting old? How to deal with the esthetics of the body which are changing in the scale of time and it’s fashion? How to deal with yourself and dreams you had?


An elderly lady with starting to melt body offers and honest and at the same time constructed insight into her past, present and with little bit of insecurity into future as well. The stage and set design is minimalistic, if not to tell missing at all, the dance work is about her not about the infrastructure. Smartly designed lighting highlights body lines and creates little melancholic atmosphere. The music comes in to strengthen the message.

An elderly female dancer is swinging like a bell. Biographical story – a “mannequin nue” at Folies Berger in Paris. Movements and words. Esthetical beauty of the woman’s body in the epochs. Show girl’s ABC and 3 “S”. The Showtime in the atmosphere of the blue, sadness and angriness. The Showtime in the atmosphere of bride smile, ironic entertainment and imagined cabaret. Feathers and high heels – 495 performances in total. Photos vs. real body.


The lost and passed away time is the reason for some bitterness regardless the fact was the past bad or good. The further we get from the youth the thicker layer of gold and feathers cover the memories. Ideal of beauty expires every decade, sometimes sooner than the body representing it. What do with the silicon breast if they are out of fashion already? How to train to walk on low heels again if the muscles are used to 11 cm? It’s like removing the metal circles from the long necks of those ladies.

Long legs? Naked breasts? Faked smile? An affective performance or an absurd show? How tragic is the instability of the dancer’s body if each centimeter on your waist counts? How flexible have to be the body if you just jump in the train of the epoch-making esthetics? How easily or hard you deal with your dreams when you are young or already in years? What still can work if the Showtime-years already passed and you have to deal with all that memories you have? How to show the body? How to show the show?


Strong personal story and reason for the work in combination with simple but effective stage tools make the contemporary dance work into the show. The show that must go on…

Real story affects. Real body makes feel. Real show makes believe. Real documentation touches. Real stays real…

IN&IN, Ingrida Gerbutavi?i?t? and Inta Balode