Archive for the dance Category

Slowly going to the heart of the matter: Morton Feldman’s ‘Piano and String Quartet’ by Ictus & Fumiyo Ikeda

Posted in contemporary classical music, contemporary dance, dance, music with tags , , , , on February 18, 2017 by Utopia Parkway

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Once in a while a photographer takes a picture, and when he looks at that picture, he notices the presence of some ghostly figure. Someone who wasn’t in the room at all when the photo was taken. That’s what I had to think of, watching the Belgian contemporary music ensemble Ictus perform Morton Feldman‘s Piano And String Quartet (Kaaitheater, Brussels). On stage with them: Rosas veteran Fumiyo Ikeda. Was it that peculiar piece of music, or her dancing? It seemed as if she was there while not being there at all.

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It’s like… He talks a bit and she dances a bit: ‘Shown And Told’ (Meg Stuart & Tim Etchells)

Posted in contemporary dance, dance, performance with tags , , , , on January 28, 2017 by Utopia Parkway

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“I dance because I wanted to be a magician but I’m not good with stuff”, Meg Stuart tells the audience, somewhere along Show And Told, her collaboration with Tim Etchells. If the piece proves one thing, it’s how good the American choreographer and the British (performance) artist actually are with stuff. Be it other stuff. Movement stuff. Language stuff.

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A trip towards the sublime: “Rain” (live) by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker & Rosas

Posted in contemporary dance, dance with tags , , on December 10, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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It’s as if you are searching for something that you’re never able to find. What a reader of this blog once told me. A remark I suddenly remembered, as I was watching Rain, version 2016, fifteen years after Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker had put it to the stage for the first time. I realized that person was right. Although I know there are other things in art to aim for than the sublime, part of me will always be looking for that: beauty’s more exalted version. And here it was.

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Mourning in a museum of another kind: ‘Moeder’ (Mother) by Peeping Tom

Posted in contemporary dance, dance, performance, theatre with tags , , , , on November 24, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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A painting starts to bleed, a sculpture comes to life, and isn’t that coffee machine behaving rather strangely? Welcome to Peeping Tom‘s universe, where “normal” is a concept that doesn’t seem to exist. With Moeder (Mother) the Brussels-based company once again puts on stage a piece resembling a surreal dream, in which one strange event follows the next.

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Torn clothes and shattered hopes: ‘Nicht Schlafen’ by Alain Platel & Les Ballets C de la B

Posted in contemporary dance, dance, sculpture, theatre with tags , , on November 12, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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The piece reached its low point somewhere near the end, when one of the dancers pulled his briefs down and started fucking the dead horse that had been lying there all the time, legs wide open. It was not a scene depicting utter hopelessness or despair, it was a scene that stood for the lack of directorial vision I had been feeling for quite a while, watching Nicht Schlafen; at that point a piece that seemed not to know where to go anymore. Just do something, and it will be okay. Even fucking a horse.

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Those magic fingers are at it again: “Cold Blood” by Jaco Van Dormael and Michèle Anne De Mey

Posted in contemporary dance, dance, film, theatre on October 3, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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“Three, two, one”, a voice said. “When you open your eyes, you are still alive.” The lights went on, and it seemed as if everyone around me was waking up. A few moments later everybody in the theatre (KVS, Brussels) got to their feet for a roaring standing ovation. If there’s one thing filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael and choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey are good at, it’s this: bringing a packed theatre into a state of collective reverie. Yes, Cold Blood, the successor to that immensely successful Kiss & Cry (180.000 spectators, 300 performances, 20 countries) has its flaws, but to make a theatre with grown-ups look at things with the same sense of wonder they had when they were kids? Quite unique.

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Underwater love, so beautifully liquid: Bára Sigfúsdóttir’s “The Lover”

Posted in art, contemporary dance, dance on April 1, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

Brussels. Belgium. How to deal with everything, these days? Some keep on devouring the news sites or get really active on social media. I tend to go in silent mode. Try to quietly look for solace where I’ve always found it: in art. And so I bought a ticket for the last Belgian performance of Bára Sigfúsdóttir‘s The Lover. A piece I had already seen at its premiere, exactly a year ago, and once again I was slowly seduced by it. A thoughtful choreography, cleverly combined with visual art (work by French photographer Noémie Goudal), set design (88888) and soundscape (Borko).

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The herra skella patsu patsu’s have landed: “dbddbb” by Daniel Linehan/Hiatus

Posted in contemporary dance, dance on March 1, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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A haka. But an updated contemporary version of that Maori war cry. That’s what it made me think of. But Daniel Linehan‘s new piece dbddbb was in fact inspired by dadaïst sound poems. It combines nonsensical words and sentences with marching rhythms. Sounds weird? Don’t be afraid. The Belgium-based American choreographer ends up with a piece that is both experimental and enjoyable.

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What happens when dance is governed by another set of rules? Some thoughts on ‘Work/Travail/Arbeid’ by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (Wiels, Brussels)

Posted in art, contemporary art, dance, performance with tags , , on June 18, 2015 by Utopia Parkway

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What happens when dance is governed by another set of rules? Well, you get a hype, to begin with. More than 24.000 people went to see Work/Travail/Arbeid by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker during the nine weeks it was on at Wiels contemporary art centre, Brussels. The exhibition was one of this year’s best ‘performances’ a jury of Flemish critics decided, and so there will be a short rerun at Wiels in September, for Het Theaterfestival in Brussels. In 2016 Work/Travail/Arbeid will be presented by Centre Pompidou (Paris) and Tate Modern (London). I went to Wiels several times, trying to figure out why people were so drawn to this. These are my thoughts.

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Trying to mix Shakespeare with Brian Eno: ‘Golden Hours (As you like it)’ by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker & Rosas

Posted in contemporary dance, dance with tags , , , , on February 16, 2015 by Utopia Parkway

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Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker dancing to Brian Eno. That’s how Golden Hours was announced. But somewhere along the way it became: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker dancing to Shakespeare. Golden Hours (As you like it) still carries the traces of that shift. The piece once again proves the radical artistic mind of the Belgian choreographer, but at the time of the premiere (Kaaitheater, Brussels, January 2015), it was a dance performance that definitely needed some more thought.

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Beautifully cutting up and reassembling the past: ‘Hunter’ by Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods

Posted in dance with tags , , , , on October 13, 2014 by Utopia Parkway

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Some performances are gone the next day. Forgotten. Some stay with you a little longer. And some keep on popping up in your mind. Such as Hunter, the first evening-length solo by Meg Stuart. I watched the American choreographer perform it a couple of months ago in Essen, and scenes and images from it have been coming back to me regularly, since. Hunter, a piece about memories. The Venice Biennale wanted it on its programme last June, and the well-respected German magazine tanz awarded Meg Stuart the title choreographer of the year for it. The piece will have its Belgian premiere this week at Kaaitheater, Brussels.

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Karaoke with Kafka… and seven dancers: Daniel Linehan’s ‘Karaoke Dialogues’

Posted in dance, Kunstenfestivaldesarts with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2014 by Utopia Parkway

He sure is a smart thinker. But this time it seems Daniel Linehan has done a bit too much thinking. With the unfortunate result that the gifted, Belgium-based American choreographer has squeezed much of the air out of his newest piece. The Karaoke Dialogues? Seven dancers reading aloud fragments from literary classics that appear on tv-screens, while they dance. When describing a karaoke night you would probably be choosing words such as loose, funny, spontaneous and light. For Linehan’s take on karaoke, my guess is spectators will be ending up with words as formal, cerebral and tedious.

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Straight-facedly in search of the superlative of slow motion: Maria Hassabi’s ‘Premiere’

Posted in dance, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, performance with tags , , , on May 13, 2014 by Utopia Parkway

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Funny how the dullest evenings in a theater can be the ones that stay with you the longest. Whereas the only thing you could think while you were watching the performance, was: hope this ends soon. But when you’re home, you realize the questions keep your mind busy. Why on earth did they do what they were doing? What was it they wanted me to experience? Premiere, by Cyprus-born, New York-based, director/choreographer Maria Hassabi, whose work (aptly described by The Financial Times) ‘appears as often in white boxes as in black’.

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Kaleidoscopic sketchbook from outer space: ‘Sketches/Notebook’ by Meg Stuart & Damaged Goods

Posted in art, dance, performance with tags , , on December 9, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

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A cowbell, lots of marbles rolling over the floor, a bag lady from outer space, and a drum kit producing sound without a drummer. I promise it will happen to you too. After Sketches/Notebook by Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods, you’ll find yourself sitting in the bar, with a smile on your face, humming the theme of a big blockbuster movie, slighty confused, trying to remember all the things you’ve just seen. Serious? Sketches/Notebook is a dance performance with such a kaleidoscopic scope that it ends up being something much more than a dance piece. Art collectors should be bidding for it.

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Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s sweet revenge: everybody is dancing ‘Rosas Danst Rosas’

Posted in dance on October 13, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

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Who is she, and why is she making such a big deal of this? I’m sure some people will have thought, two years ago, when a Belgian choreographer called Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker tried to convince everybody outside the world of contemporary dance that it was not fair, the way world-famous pop star Beyoncé had stolen part of her classic piece Rosas Danst Rosas  (1983) in the video for Countdown.
In a smart way De Keersmaeker has recently made it clear just how influential her piece is, and that the influence surpasses the world of contemporary dance. Not by saying: this is mine, don’t touch it, but by saying: here it is, just take it. By now some 250 films have been sent in from all over the world based on instruction clips De Keersmaeker had put online in June. They have been compiled into a short (and a longer) You Tube-clip, that has already caught the attention of the New York Times and The Guardian. Yesterday evening, De Keersmaeker herself was one of four dancers performing in a rerun of Rosas Danst Rosas at Kaaitheater (Brussels). As an encore (photo), some 20 young girls from a high school in Brussels performed their version (among them: De Keersmaeker’s daughter). Whatever Beyoncé might have taken, De Keersmaeker has taken it back. And the story continues: you can still upload your clip.

Triangles on the dancefloor: Eleanor Bauer’s ‘Midday and Eternity (the time piece)’

Posted in dance with tags , , , on October 2, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

'Midday and Eternity (the time piece)' (Eleanor Bauer; photo: Danny Willems)

It was a brave question, at the post performance talk, hesitantly phrased by a member of the audience. By then Eleanor Bauer had been talking for a while about her new performance, Midday and Eternity (the time piece), the last part of a trilogy. Why, did he want to know, was there such a big gap between everything the Brussels-based American choreographer had based her performance on (the philosophical thoughts, the choreographic exercises) and what we had actually seen on stage, at Kaaitheater (Brussels)? It was exactly the question that had been bugging me too.

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One big beating heart: singers and dancers, Verdi and Wagner, in ‘C(h)oeurs’ by Alain Platel

Posted in dance, opera with tags , , , , on September 26, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

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Funny how you have no power over the images your eyes have handed your mind. As I was watching the closing scene of C(h)oeurs – a huge group of people, seated at the back of the stage, opening and closing their hands, painted red, as one big beating heart – it seemed rather silly to me. Now, some days later, it’s the image that keeps on popping up in my mind. C(h)oeurs, by Alain Platel (Les Ballets C de la B) premiered in Madrid last year, and was presented as the opening of the new season at opera house La Monnaie/De Munt, Brussels. For those who have missed it: De Munt is streaming it on its website until September 30, here.

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Trying to maximize the minimum: ‘Partita 2’, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker & Boris Charmatz

Posted in dance with tags , , , , , on May 18, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

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One doesn’t need to do a lot, to make a big impression. Just turn out the lights, for instance. It is the simple but clever way Partita 2 starts, a collaboration between choreographers Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Boris Charmatz, and acclaimed violinist Amandine Beyer, based on a violin partita by J.S. Bach. It premiered at Kaaitheater (Brussels) during the Kunstenfestivaldesarts. For the first part of the piece the audience sits in the dark, listening to Beyer playing Bach in the dark. The beauty of it? You’re in a big theatre, but it feels as if Beyer is playing for your ears only.

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The fungi are taking over the asylum: ‘MUSH-ROOM’ (Grace Ellen Barkey & Needcompany)

Posted in dance, performance, theatre with tags , , , on April 28, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

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‘What is the purpose of this gathering?’, one of the performers asked, at the beginning. Halfway through MUSH-ROOM, by Grace Ellen Barkey & Needcompany, I still hadn’t found a decent answer to that question. Sure: those giant, dangling mushrooms were wonderful to look at, and that music by American cult band The Residents gelled well with the weird, absurd and exuberant party I had been watching. But apart from that? MUSH-ROOM was dragging and the piece struggled to make it to the end.

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A 31-year-old boy and a 87-year-old woman on the dancefloor: ‘Journey’, by Koen De Preter & Alphea Pouget

Posted in dance with tags , , on April 7, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

'Journey' (Koen De Preter; photo: Bart Grietens)

A choreography for a 87-year-old dancer. Of course there’s a gimmicky aspect to it. It’s a little piece of information that makes Journey, by young Belgian choreographer Koen De Preter and Alphea Pouget, stand out. But it’s to his credit that De Preter tries to steer his touching duet away from everything that might look too obvious or cheesy, and comes up with a light piece that is as unpretentious as it is enjoyable for a broader audience.

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