The contemporary Belgian dance
2018 - Director : Plasson, Fabien
Choreographer(s) : Noiret, Michèle (Belgium) Mossoux, Nicole (Belgium) Bonté, Patrick (Belgium) Flamand, Frédéric Augustijnen, Koen (Belgium) Platel, Alain (Belgium) De Keersmaeker, Anne Teresa (Belgium) Fabre, Jan (Belgium) De Mey, Michèle Anne (Belgium) Van Dormael, Jaco
Author : Philippe Guisgand
The 1980s were characterized by a revival of all the elements that had been rejected in modern dance over the previous decades. Nouvelle danse (New dance) included all the choreographic trends that appeared during this period. Inspirational movements and prestigious companies developed throughout Europe and in North America, and Belgium was no exception to this choreographic movement, which was somewhere between dance and theatre, raw energy and perfectly honed movements, gestures and transdisciplinarity. “Belgium is a combination of London, Germany, Holland and Paris, a mixture between Romanesque and Germanic cultures. All of this produces a type of no man’s land: in Belgium, everything is ‘between’” stated the Flemish choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. And, this is what we are going to try and explain in this Parcours.
Demain – Michèle Noiret
From the 1990s onwards, many French choreographers would begin questioning intermediality. At the frontiers of dance and new technology, we should mention Michèle Noiret in the solo Demain (Tomorrow) (2009). Dreaming of a movement that is impossible to be represented, she obliges spectators to choose the itinerary that their gaze would be held by between dance, movement recording and video-dance.
Kefar Nahum - Nicole Mossoux et Patrick Bonté
As for Nicole Mossoux and Patrick Bonté many of their performances develop a “disturbing strangeness”, situated at the crossroads between choreography and theatre. Occasionally incorporating manipulation (objects, puppets, etc.), as can be seen in Kefar Nahum(2008), they create sombre images that trigger strong emotions.
Frédéric Flamand, for his part, is influenced by theatre but also by visual arts. Constantly pursuing creations where his dancers would merge with video and multimedia tools, he is known for his spectacular productions. With his trilogy on cities, he sets out to understand how architecture and urban patterns influence our behaviour and weigh on our motivity, a reflection that is once again developed in La Cité Radieuse (The Radiant City) that he created and produced in Marseille.
Ashes - Koen Augustijnen
As regards Flemish choreographers, on the contrary, we talked about a “shock style”. In Ashes (2010), Koen Augustijnen created coexistence between the acoustic convolutions of a soprano and of a countertenor, who develop a dialogue through several love duets, and incorporated a terrestrial and acrobatic dance. Priority was no longer given to the elegance or gracefulness of a movement but to highlighting vibrancy, impulse and the animality of the bodies. Horizontality, speed, flying and risk were the new parameters of their dance.
Pitié - Alain Platel
Alain Platel illustrates this trend, which is occasionally akin to theatre in for example Pitié, where actors, dancers, musicians and visual artists mix together on stage. Together – by exploring the tale, the identity games and through the accumulations of scenic materials, they strive to express a reality that is both raw and poetic at the same time, and which offers even more polysemic possibilities for performing their shows.
Fase etRosas danst Rosas – Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker‘s artistic choices cannot be resumed as merely those of a “musician” choreographer for whom music plays a fundamental and organizational role in her work, as can be seen in Fase (1982) and in Rosas danst Rosas (1983). Because we should not forget that she has never stopped – from her very first works – querying literature, opera, the theatre, and also the cinema. She turns her work into a real puzzle that perpetually queries the frontiers between the arts.
Quando l’uomo principale è una donna – Jan Fabre
Jan Fabre, visual artist but just as much a choreographer, creates works for the stage which form a total theatre, comprising extreme situations that conjure up agitated visions of the world. Combining dance, opera and visual images, far removed from “pretty” forms and “good” taste, the decompartmentalization of the arts that he imposes has led to violent controversy vis-à-vis himself. The solo Quando l'Uomo principale e una donna (2004), danced by Lisbeth Gruwetz, who performs naked in olive oil, enables us, through the radical bias that associates vision and olfaction, to answer the incredible question: “what does dance smell of?”.
Kiss & cry - Michèle Anne De Mey et Jako Van Dormael
In Michèle Anne De Mey and Jako Van Dormael’s Kiss and Cry that blends “nanodance” (or finger dance) and live-and-directly produced cinema. The dance is not dissimulated but is somewhat discreet: the two performers, dressed in black and frequently appearing in the half-light, seem to remain at a distance from their respective arms which take centrestage for the camera. The object of the gaze is forever changing, between film, dance and choreography of cinema that is in the process of being created.
In more depth
FRETARD, Dominique. Danse contemporaine, danse et non-danse, Paris : Cercle d'Art, 2004. 174 p. (Le cercle chorégraphique contemporain).
HRVATIN, Emil, ŽBONA, Moïka (trad.). Jan Fabre. La discipline du chaos, le chaos de la discipline, Paris : Armand Colin, 1994. 174 p. (Arts chorégraphiques : l'auteur dans l'œuvre).
LANZ, Isabella, Verstockt, Katie. La Danse aux Pays-Bas et en Flandre aujourd'hui. Rekkem : Stichting Ons Erfdeel, 2003. 128 p.
Reviews and articles
ADOLPHE, Jean-Marc. « La Belgique est-elle une œuvre d'art ? », inMouvement, n° 4, mars - mai 1999, p. 28-33.
« Jan Fabre, une œuvre en marche », in Alternative Théâtrale, n° 86-87, 2005, p. 70- 104.
LACHAUD, Jean-Marc. « Richesse et éclectisme de la chorégraphie flamande », in Cassandre, n° 36-37, septembre-octobre 2000, p. 21-23.
LAERMANS, Rudi, GIELEN, Pascale. « Flanders. Constructing identities: the case of ‘the Flemish dance wave' », in GRAU, Andrée, JORDAN, Stephanie (eds.), Europe dancing. Perspectives on Theater Dance and Cultural Identity, Londres, Routledge, 2000, p. 12-27.
LONGUET MARX, Anne (dir.). « La traversée secrète des mondes intérieurs de Nicole Mossoux et Patrick Bonté », in Etudes théâtrales, « Théâtre et danse », vol. 1, n° 47-48, 2010, p. 109- 112.
LONGUET MARX, Anne (dir.). « Alain Platel. La communauté en scène. Entretien avec Anne Longuet » in Etudes théâtrales, vol. 1, n° 47-48, 2010, p. 145-151.
UYTTERHOEVEN, Michel. « 14 moments de danse en Flandre », in Nouvelles de danse, n° 22, Bruxelles, Contredanse hiver 1995, p. 6-16.
VERSTOCKT, Katie. « La vague flamande : mythe ou réalité ? », in Danser maintenant, Bruxelles, CFC-éditions, 1990.
Dance companies websites
Rosas [en ligne]. Disponible sur : www.rosas.be
Les Ballets C de la B [en ligne]. Disponible sur : www.lesballetscdela.be
Ultima Vez [en ligne]. Disponible sur : www.ultimavez.com
Cie Mossoux-Bonté [en ligne]. Disponible sur : http://mossoux-bonte.be
Philippe Guisgand is professor of dance universities at the University of Lille. He is a researcher at CEAC and leads the program "Dialogues between art and research". He is a designer of a choreographic analysis path for which he has developed an original kinesic bias ("Reception of the choreographic spectacle: from a functional description to aesthetic analysis", STAPS Review n ° 74, autumn 2006, 117 -130). He also works to better understand the means by which spectators give an account of their sensitive reception as well as the political consequences of aesthetic debates ("The workshops of the spectator, factories of the sensitive", Quaderni n ° 83, winter 2013-2014, 59 -71). Specialist of the work of Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker (The Sons of Endless Intertwining, Septentrion, 2007, Anne Teresa of Keersmaeker, L'Epos, 2009 and Intimate Chords, Dance and Music at De Keersmaeker, Septentrion 2017), Finally, he is interested in the dialogues of the arts ("Demands and addresses: dance and music by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker" in Stephanie Schroedter (ed.), Zwischen Hören und Sehen, Würzburg, Koenigshausen & Neumann, 2012, 425-437) and to certain aspects of performativity ("About the notion of body condition" in Josette Féral (ed.), Performative Practices, Body Remix, Montreal / Rennes, University of Quebec Press / Rennes University Press, 2012, 223-239).
Selection of extracts
Texts and bibliographic selection
Maison de la Danse
The Parcours "Contemporary Belgian Dance" was born thanks to the support of the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Culture and Communication - Service of the Coordination of Cultural Policies and Innovation (SCPCI)