Archive for Kaaitheater

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


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


“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 zen thing to do: paying a visit to Marino Formenti’s piano chapel during Performatik

Posted in art, music, performance with tags , on March 19, 2015 by Utopia Parkway

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I was on my way to my yoga class around the corner, but decided to skip it yesterday, as something odd had caught my attention. A guy in a room playing the piano, next to some mattresses on the floor. I opened the door, sat down, and listened. Other people dropped by, and left. Whenever the guy had finished playing a piece, he scribbled the title of it on one of the white walls. Without speaking. ‘A kind of pagan chapel where life and music can become one’, that’s how pianist/conductor/performer Marino Formenti describes his project nowhere. For 12 days he will reside in the Zsenne art lab (through Sunday March 29). He will be sleeping, eating and playing there. It’s one of the many projects of this year’s edition of Performatik, Kaaitheater’s performance art biennial. Want a zen moment? Go and listen (10am-10 pm, 2 Rue Anneessensstraat), as this is more than a gimmick: Formenti really is a great pianist. Not living in Brussels? Watch (and listen to) the livestream, here. I’m already addicted.

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


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


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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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


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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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


‘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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Calling upon the patron saint of insomniacs: Vincent Dunoyer & Berlinde De Bruyckere

Posted in art, performance with tags , , , , on March 4, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

'Onze Lieve Vrouw Van Vaak' (Vincent Dunoyer & Berlinde De Bruyckere; Kaaitheater, Brussels)

Performance art. Two words I’ve been struggling with last week, as I was watching several performances during Performatik, the Brussels performance art biennial. Performance art: any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer’s body, or presence in a medium, and a relationship between performer and audience, according to Wikipedia. What does a performance need for it to be a good performance? When are you allowed to think: it should have been more. Are the words performance art an excuse for an artist to get away with anything? When can I say: he was just lazy? Questions that popped up again as I was watching the performance everyone wanted a ticket for: Vincent Dunoyer‘s Onze Lieve Vrouw Van Vaak/Notre Dame Du Sommeil, a collaboration with Berlinde De Bruyckere, the acclaimed visual artist representing Belgium at this year’s Venice Biennial.

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Ministry Of Silly Walks opens Brussels bureau, or: Theo Cowley’s ‘On Foot’

Posted in art, performance with tags , , on March 2, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

Theo Cowley's 'On Foot (Red Hat)' (Saint-Hubert Royal Arcade, Brussels)Will anyone of all the tourists passing by have noticed? I don’t think so. And that was what I loved about it. Silently adding something to reality (and thus altering it) and then taking it away again, without anyone noticing. And for those who are in the know: altering, for a moment or so, the way they look at the world. That’s my kind of performance. During forty minutes, yesterday evening, you could see six people walking up and down Saint-Hubertus Royal Arcade (Brussels), but each time they were walking by they did so in another way. Sometimes in a really normal fashion, sometimes in a slightly silly way, but never going for the John Cleese/Monty Python all too silly way (original sketch here). The nice thing about it? For a couple of minutes, before you were able to single out the six performers, everyone passing by was suspect. And after that: you started looking at the way all the tourists and other passers-by were walking. Suddenly everybody became a performer. On Foot (Red Hat), by British visual artist Theo Cowley, created for Performatik, the Brussels performance art biennial (ending today). I’m sure somebody will have had this idea before, but nevertheless: loved it.

Strange situations in a supermarket and weird moments in a museum… just some adventures in performance land

Posted in art, performance with tags , , , on February 25, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

'Borrowed landscape' (fieldworks at Denon Delhaize, Leuven; photo hMp)I’ve seen two adults do strange things with two pieces of blue thread (Trajal Harrell & Sarah Sze) over the weekend. I’ve seen a visual artist and a dancer move wooden planks around (Jimmy Robert & Maria Hassabi) and I’ve become aware of the fact that an air bubble is expanding over Brussels. I’ve learned, during a debate with international museum curators, that when a skeleton is part of a performance in a museum, everybody can touch it, but when the performance is considered to be a work of art, suddenly only specialized personnel is allowed to handle it. As I had seen that wonderful Fault lines by Meg Stuart twice already, I went to a museum to see dancers do weird things with works of art instead. But the image I’ll take with me from my performance filled weekend, is this one. This picture. Just a fragment of a nice performance by fieldworks: Borrowed landscape, in a supermarket in Leuven. Because it’s wonderfully strange and familiar at the same time. Isn’t it what we all want to do, sometimes, after another busy day? Just lay that head down, wherever we are? Even if it is in a supermarket? Artefact (adventures in art, media & music; Leuven) is over, but Performatik, the Brussels performance biennial, continues till March 2.

Bach, and a master of ceremonies with magical powers: Raimund Hoghe’s ‘Cantatas’

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

'Cantatas' (Raimund Hoghe; photo: Rosa Frank)

Allow me to start with a bold statement, for once. I think every art student (dance, theater or visual arts) should at least have seen one performance by Raimund Hoghe. In order to realize how one can create something with almost nothing. It was a while since I’d seen one of his performances, and even though I wasn’t entirely taken by Cantatas – his newest piece –  Hoghe, as master of ceremonies with a minimal toolbox, once again succeeded in enchanting me.


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Crime and punishment in a never-ending story: ‘Marktplaats 76/Marketplace 76’ (Jan Lauwers & Needcompany)

Posted in performance, theatre with tags , , , , on November 1, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

‘Winters end, but stories always go on.’ By the time Jan Lauwers utters those words, wrapping things up, you’ve seen it all: death, rape, suicide, incest, crime, atonement and revenge. Packed in a performance comprising song and dance, combining grotesque elements à la Paul McCarthy and silly stuff that remind you of children’s stories. Marktplaats 76/Marketplace 76 sure is entertaining, but those last words of the Needcompany director also expose its Achilles heel: you feel Lauwers could have gone on and on, adding new chapters to his story. I was missing a sense of urgency. Continue reading

The best thing one can do when it’s raining, is to let it rain – Rosas & Graindelavoix performing ‘Cesena’ at Abbaye Villers La Ville

Posted in dance with tags , , on August 31, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

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Is it really worth it? Yes, it is. And I’m allowed to say so, because I sat there, before the sun came up, in the worst possible weather conditions (rain and cold): watching the first of a couple of special open air performances of Cesena (at dawn) and En Atendant (sunset) by Rosas and Graindelavoix at the Abbaye Villers La Ville (near Brussels). The setting – truly magnificent – means that you’re looking at these performances in a totally different way. Respect for choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, addressing the audience at 5.20 AM this morning, explaining that, even though the rain was pouring down, they were trying to make it as comfortable for the audience as possible. Respect for dancers and singers performing in the cold, and respect for the audience too, wrapped in blankets, watching and listening intently. You’ll find lengthier reviews here, here (Cesena) and here (En Atendant). Info: Kaaitheater and De Munt/LaMonnaie.

‘A candy bar and a newspaper, please.’ Or how we manage to act like nothing’s going on. (‘Reset’, by Tristero)

Posted in theatre with tags , , , , on February 3, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

Want to know how the members of that modest, ever so funny Flemish theatre company Tristero are linked to the international weapons trade? And how every one of us is, actually? Then buy a ticket for Tristero’s performance Reset – which premiered at Kaaitheater (Brussels) – and by the end, you’ll have figured it out. But don’t be puzzled when they’ll let you spend some time in a magazine store, first.

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What’s your ‘Angle’? Salva Sanchis’ open invitation to look, listen and think

Posted in dance, music with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

Sometimes, it all depends on you. As a spectator. On the work you are willing to do, in your mind. Does that imply that you’re dealing with a lazy performer on stage? Not necessarily so. Take Salva Sanchis, who used to be part of AT De Keersmaeker’s company Rosas (co-choreographer for Desh (2004) and Love supreme (2005)). He has certainly done his homework for Angle: a performance as an investigation into the perception of dance. How do we, as an audience, look at a piece and what might influence the way we perceive it? In Angle (premiere at Kaaitheater, Brussels) Sanchis offers you several elements: dance, live music (short piano pieces played by Yutaka Oya) and some ‘thoughts’. It’s up to you to link them. Or not. A cerebral approach that will not be to everybody’s liking, but I was charmed by it.

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If you say you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there, like a puppet on a string: ‘Niks of Niks’ (Jan Decorte/Comp. Marius)

Posted in theatre with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

‘This looks like a puppet-show, the only thing missing are the curtains.’ One of the actors says it, rather casually, during Niks of Niks, but in fact it’s the perfect summary for the new play by Belgian theatre legend Jan Decorte, conceived in collaboration with Comp. Marius from Antwerp. It premiered at Kaaitheater (Brussels). Their radical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much ado about nothing (performance in Dutch) really resembles such a puppet-show: it’s a bunch of grown-ups performing Shakespeare as if they were still kids. It makes for a funny evening, but nothing more than that.

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‘Friends, this is NOT our time’: the art of speech turned upside down by Tim Etchells & Kate McIntosh (‘Although we fell short’)

Posted in performance with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2011 by Utopia Parkway

Would I vote for her? That’s the question I was asking myself, as I was leaving the theatre (Kaaitheater Studio’s, Brussels). Yes I would. Which was a strange answer, considering the fact that for the previous fifty minutes Kate McIntosh had been giving a speech that basically went nowhere at all. Or just one of the things that Although we fell short (written & directed by Tim Etchells) made me realize: strange how, if a politician has charisma, it doesn’t really matter what he or she is saying. Although we fell short premiered during Spoken world, a festival focusing on ‘the powers of speech’ (through December 12).

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The day breaks as the evening falls: ‘Cesena’ (Rosas) stays captivating, even at night

Posted in dance with tags , , , , , , , on November 13, 2011 by Utopia Parkway

How wrong was I? Ever since I was fortunate enough to be able to witness the premiere of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker‘s Cesena at the break of dawn, in Avignon (see extensive review here), I’ve been asking myself that question. By that I mean: did those truly exceptional circumstances (Cour d’Honneur, open air, daybreak) make me go for more superlatives than I should have gone for? And thus I anxiously awaited the Belgian premiere of Cesena; in a ‘regular’ theatre (De Munt/La Monnaie) and in the evening. And boy, was I relieved. Because it made me realize I hadn’t been wrong after all.

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Strings, lipstick, Franz West and a tube of blood: Ivo Dimchev and his copycats in ‘X-on’

Posted in performance, theatre with tags , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2011 by Utopia Parkway

‘Why should I be using a dramaturg? So someone could solve my problems? I prefer taking all those decisions myself.’  That was what Ivo Dimchev was telling his audience, being interviewed on stage at Kaaitheater (Brussels), right after he had performed in X-on. For the first time the much-praised performance artist has come up with a performance for the ‘big’ stage, for the first time he isn’t alone on stage either. In my opinion, he could have done with the help of that dramaturg. As in I-on Dimchev once again uses works of art by Franz West, number 36 on ArtReview’s 2011 Power 100.

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Reality tv, a cook named Duchamp and an actor committing suicide: welcome to ‘The Art of Entertainment’ (Jan Lauwers/Needcompany)

Posted in dance, theatre with tags , , , , , , , on September 18, 2011 by Utopia Parkway

The things an artist wants to talk about and what he actually ends up saying. Always an interesting topic. Take The Art of Entertainment by Belgian theatre director Jan Lauwers and his Needcompany for instance. Read the programme afterwards and you’ll notice that there are lots of interesting issues Lauwers wanted to address with this performance, and you’ll realize that they have all been incorporated in one way or the other in this play about a reality tv-show during which actor Dirk Roofthooft commits suicide. But while I was actually watching The Art of Entertainment (Kaaitheater, Brussels) I merely had the feeling of looking at a silly Tommy Cooper routine taking much too long. Funny, but tedious. Continue reading

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