Inspired by the magnetic work of the American artist Nancy Spero THE FIRST LANGUAGE deals with the stories of that women, who speak a language of survive, freedom and life. Women as carrier of the female history and enunciator of an era of women. The title is a direct reference to a piece of the same name by Spero centring around the powerlessness of being speechless. In collaboration with a international team of six female dancers, the architect and set designer Eugenia Morales, the costume designer Silke Abendschein and the sound designer Daniel Williams Avatâra Ayuso explores the different layers of Spero‘s work, whose image language often is a combination between image and text. Erotic, affliction and social depression are the issues of that work. THE FIRST LANGUAGE picks up these issues, defoliets the two-dimentional layers and transfers them into the space. Hence a dynamic choreography emerces as well as a mystical and claustrophobic universe populated by female bodies as carrier of this expressive tongue.

60 min
HELLERAU – European Center of the arts Dresden, April 13th 2012

Avatâra Ayuso

By and With

Alejandra Baño, Sandra Français, Cindy Hammer, Miriam Remírez, Mar Rodríguez, Juliana Sabino


Daniel Williams

Set Design

Eugenia Morales

Set Paintings

Doris Botwen and Stephanie Lüning


Silke Abendschein

Assistant to Costumes

Tina Seidlitz

Assistant to Production

Annegret Hauptmann

Rehearsal Direction

Carmen Piqueras

Artistic Collaboration

Carlos Fernández


Carmen Mehnert and Anna Bründl

Lighting Design

Falk Dittrich and Eugenia Morales


Falk Dittrich


Sebastian Rietz

Set Technicians

Welko Funke, Dirk Heymann, Steffen Köhler

© Images by Adam Dreeseen

The First Language is a production by Avatâra Ayuso and HELLERAU – European Center of the arts Dresden within the framework of the exhibition Nancy Spero – The Rebirth at the Festspielhaus Hellerau and in collaboration of Los Teatros del Canal Madrid.

„I had come across the phrase ‘peut-être la première langue – c‘est la danse‘ in a little book I have in Frensh on prehistoric art, called Forty Thousand Years of Modern Art, which is where I found the first images that I used of prehistoric women. Of course, I don‘t just use images of women, many times I find images of men but then transform them into their female counterparts. Anyway, I was looking up ‘woman‘ in the book and I couldn‘t find it, but I did come across the phrase ‘perhaps dance is the first language.‘ Then I thought that the work wasn‘t really ‘dance-like,‘ although there were a lot of running athletic women, so I cut ‘dance‘ out of the title, leaving ‘The First Language.‘“

Nancy Spero about her work “The First Language“ in: Nancy Spero. The Work by Christopher Lyon, Prestel, 2010, p.237

The nature of torture assumes the involvement of minimum two persons: the torturer and the victim. It carries the further implications that the victim is under the physical control of the torturer. The second element is the infliction of acute pain and suffering. Pain is a subjective concept. Internally felt but no less real for being subjective. All definitions that limit torture to physical aggressions are excluding mental and physiological torture, which in fact also causes acute pain and suffering. The concept of torture does imply a strong degree of suffering. Intensity and degree are clear factors in judging wheatear an action is considered or not to be a torture. The aim of the torturer is to make the victim break. The breaking of the victim’s will is to destroy /the victim’s / humanity.

In: Amnesty Internation, Report of Torture (London, 1975) mentioned in the work by Nancy Spero: Torture of Women (panel 1)

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