Encontros Acarte’91: Up with the Belgians! (Part Two)

BLITZ 17 Sep 1991English

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Contextual note
This text is part of the Portuguese anthology. This text collection contains 100% of the writings of André Lepecki for the magazine BLITZ. Sarma could realize this project by the support of the Portuguese Institute for the Arts.
You can read more about André Lepecki and his poetics as a writer on the following link: http://www.sarma.be/nieuw/critics/lepecki.htm


Editor Sarma: Myriam Van Imschoot
Editor Portugal: Monica Guerreiro
Research in Lisbon: Jeroen Peeters
Coördination: Steven De Belder, Jeroen Peeters, Charlotte Vandevyver, Myriam Van Imschoot
Translator: Clive Thoms
Financial Support: Portuguese Institute for the Arts
Thank you to: André Lepecki for the contribution to this anthology, BLITZ for giving consent to republish the texts on www.sarma.be, Diana Teixeira (typiste)

The Gulbenkian Foundation is currently home to the Encontros Acarte’91. This week, the Lisbon audience found itself back in the company of Wim Vandekeybus and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, and made the acquaintance of Lucia Latour.

1. Wim Vandekeybus and Sempre as Mesmas Mentiras (Always the Same Lies)

We reported on the sketch for this piece in May this year, during the Springdance Festival in Utrecht, Holland. We said at the time that Vandekeybus seemed to be tied up in his normal bodily language, in which falls, acrobatic leaps and speed occupy pride of place. And he seemed to be close to exhausting it. We also said that something new seemed to be happening on the creative side, as two moments seem to mark a break with what he had done before: the melancholy tone of a super 8 film of an old man at a German port and the little dance performed to a whistled rendition of La Cucaracha.

Four months later, we were able to see that in the finished piece Vanderkeybus has not been wholly successful in harmonizing these two components, which introduced an element of imbalance into the final product. Although he has never exploited humour so well, framing it perfectly in the games of balance and strength that he is so fond of (such as the chairs hanging upside down, with the dancers sitting on them, and the hilarious scenes with the eggs flying through the air), although the sets gradually take form at a harmonious and coherent pace, in keeping with the dancer’s absurd actions, although, in short, Vandekeybus has managed to give form to a dramatic tension in which ridicule is only the manifest form of the solitude and obsessions of an old man (and what an old man!), the fact is, and especially in the last quarter of the piece, that the choreography feels rather staid. Curiously, these are mainly the bits we saw in May. Most likely, the choreographer discovered the structural axis of the piece at a later stage, but still tried to fit into the final version elements which completely refuse to fit in (including even the music, which goes against the grain of the soundtrack up to that point).

Otherwise, I felt that the use of film, the terrific sets made out of women’s clothes, the soundtrack and the excellent dancing made this perhaps the most sensuous of all of Vandekeybus’ choreographies, and definitely one of the high points of this festival.

2. Anhiccam by Lucia Latour

The Altroteatro Company’s offering for the stage of the Main Auditorium was a choreography based on the Futurist painter Fortunato Depero. The painter’s works were in fact clearly present, in a perfect animated slide show, prominently featuring the Campari advertisements, his brand image, so to speak. The technical resources were impressive: quadraphonic sound, a fully articulated stage, loads of lighting in the closest of harmony.

The choreographic resources were feeble. The choreography opted for movement along parallel lines, which is not a problem in itself (it was undoubtedly the intention to comply with the dictates of Pap Marinetti, who abhorred curves). Only that for a whole hour and a half, the dancers do nothing but shake about in silly film star poses, in other words the poses of people who think they’re doing the pose which was used in the silent movies. Do you see the difference? The result is the same as those TV Gala dance numbers in homage of the nineteen twenties. Superficial, and based on false stereotypes.

This is a minor piece, in rather doubtful taste, with extremely irritating music, and which would have been more at home on Italian TV than on the stage of the Main Auditorium as part of the Encontros Acarte (does this mean that contemporary dance now means anything being done today, from Teresa de Keersmaeker to aerobics classes? Next we’ll be getting the Kirov…).

3. Achterland by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker

We reported on Anne Teresa Keersmaeker and her piece Achterland in the 4.6.91 edition of BLITZ, when it was put on at the Springdance Festival. This is the choreographer’s latest piece, and although I prefer its sister piece Stella, it is one more example of the visual, choreographic, poetical and musical virtuosity of the Belgian choreographer.