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Win VandekeybusAfter having worked for two years with Jan Fabre, he created his own working structure Última Vez in 1987. His first performance What the Body Does Not Remember (1987) was soon being presented on international stages. In 1988, Wim Vandekeybus received the Bessie Award in New York for this production, which was credited “a brutal confrontation of dance and music: the dangerous, combative landscape of What the Body Does Not Remember.”

Vandekeybus then created Les porteuses de mauvaises nouvelles (1989), The Weight of a Hand (1990) and Immer das Selbe gelogen (1991). Her Body Doesn’t Fit her Soul followed in 1993. For this production Wim Vandekeybus collaborated with non-seeing dancers for the first time. The short film Elba and Federico, also directed by Wim Vandekeybus, was part of the performance. From this moment onwards film became a constant value in Vandekeybus’ work. 

A film - shot in Morocco - and short stories by Paul Bowles and Milorad Pavic, constituted the theme for Mountains Made of Barking (1994). Wim Vandekeybus later created, among others, Bereft of a Blissful Union (1996) -a large-scale piece which brought together on stage twelve dancers and twelve musicians, and incorporated film and acting sequences, 7 for a Secret never to be told (1997), In Spite of Wishing and Wanting (1999) -incorporating the short film The Last Wordsbased on two surrealist short-stories by Julio Cortázar-, and “Inasmuch as Life is borrowed...” (2000). For Scratching the Inner Fields (2001) Vandekeybus collaborated with the Flemish author Peter Verhelst, a collaboration that was continued for Blush (2002) and Sonic Boom, a co-production with the Dutch theatre company Toneelgroep Amsterdam (2003). PUUR (2005), a performance with texts by the Dutch author P.F. 

Thomése and incorporating film fragments, was presented in open-air at several occasions amongst which in the beautiful setting of de Quarry of Boulbon during the Festival d’Avignon. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his company Última Vez, Wim Vandekeybus created Spiegel (2006), a composed evening with remarkable scenes from the work of the company. Also in September 2006 premièred Nighshade, a project for which the production house Victoria invited seven icons of the contemporary performing arts – amongst whom Wim Vandekeybus - to choreograph a striptease act for a professional striptease dancer. In November 2006 premièred Quiebro, a guest choreography for Compañía Nacional de Danza in Madrid. Besides the short films and film & video fragments that are part of his performances, Vandekeybus has also directed several video adaptations of his dance productions: Roseland (1990), La Mentira (1992), In Spite of Wishing and Wanting (2002) and more recently Blush (2005). His short films as well as these dance films are also much acclaimed in the art and short film circuit.

Quiebro. Win Vandekeybus 2006

Quiebro Dancer: Susana Riazuelo
  • Choreography and Directed by: Wim Vandekeybus
  • Music: Charo Calvo and Marc Ribot
  • Set Design: Wim Vandekeybus
  • Lighting Design: Ralf Nonn, Wim Vandekeybus
  • Costumes: Isabelle Lhoas, with the collaboration of Frédéric Denis
  • Assistant Choreographers: Iñaki Azpillaga, Elena Fokina
  • Sound Design: Benjamín Dandoy
  • Assistant to Wim Vandekeybus: Greet Van Poeck
  • Worldpremiere by the Compañía Nacional de Danza in the Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid, 10th of November 2006.

On the stage we see a body gradually disintegrate before finally breaking down into its independent constituent elements. What would happen if these elements tried to live independently of one another, tried to create their own identity? Could they survive individually, without a greater unifying force or would they need a sense of community, a common goal, a common belief system? A soul perhaps?.

In Quiebro Wim Vandekeybus and thirteen dancers from the Compañía Nacional de Danza examine the notion of individuality versus community, with each of the dancers represents a physical and mental body. The piece explores subject areas and dichotomies such as mind and soul, anonymity and identity, life and death. To the music of New York guitarist Marc Ribot and the electro-acoustic composer Charo Calvo, Quiebro's challenge to us lies in the confrontation between the classical aesthetic language of the CND’s dancers and the physical vocabulary and theatrical inspiration of Wim Vandekeybus.

Since setting up his own dance company, Ultima Vez, based in Brussels, Wim Vandekeybus has created over twenty pieces with a similarly extensive international cast of dancers and musicians. As Vandekeybus did not have the benefit of formal dance training, his choreography tends to have its basis in his cinematographic imagination. The title is very often the starting point for one of his creations: “It's like I set everything moving. Invariably I pick a title which is open ended, like a circle that allows new elements to enter” (Vandekeybus in De Standaard, 22nd of April 2000). The dancers are chosen for their personality and what they bring with them, more than for their technical skills. Vandekeybus's work lies in an abstraction based on the various aspects his dancers bring to the piece and structured by the creative spirit that is fostered by their improvisation.

“My productions are like deserts which the dancers have to cross. Without rest, without refuelling. Return is not an option as it would take just as long to get back as to continue.”

Wim Vandekeybus in De Morgen 28th of September 2006.
Costumes made by: Company Wardrobe
made by: José Luis Alonso Fernández


Portrait Hans Van ManenHans van Manen was born in Nieuwer. In 1951 van Manen had his first ballet classes from Sonia Gaskell, who invited him to join her group Ballet Recital. In 1952 he joined the Nederlands Opera Ballet, under Françoise Adret, for which he created his first ballet Feestgericht in 1957. Later on he was engaged as a dancer with Roland Petit’s company in Paris, returning to the Nederlands in 1960 as a dancer and choreographer and in 1971 as Artistic Director and choreographer. He created almost forty ballets for this company, bringing with them international recognition to the Nederlands Dans Theater. During the next two years he worked as a free-lance choreographer until 1973, when he joined Het Nationale Ballet in Amsterdam as producer and choreographer. In 1988 he returned to the Nederlands Dans Theater as Resident Choreographer. His ballets have been performed by the Opera of Berlin, Houston Ballet, Canadian National Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the Danish Royal Ballet, the Opera of Vienna, Transforum of Köln and Alvin Ailey.

Bits and Pieces. Hans Van Manen 1984


Bits and Pieces with Hans Van Manen
  • Choreography: Hans Van Manen
  • Music: David Byrne, Brian Eno, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
  • Sets and customes: Kesso Dekker
  • Light design: Jan Hofstra
  • Worldpremier by the Het Nationale Ballet at the Stadtschouwburg of Amsterdam, 2 on june 2th, 1984. World premiered by the Compañía Nacional de Danza at the Teatro de La Zarzuela in Madrid, on December 13th, 1991.

Fantasy. Hans Van Manen 1993

Fantasia. Dancer Partners
  • Choreography: Hans van Manen
  • Music: Johan Sebastian Bach: Chorale Prelude Ich ruf zu Dir, BWV 639 Praludium in a-minor (Fantasie). BWV 922
  • Sets and costumes: Keso Dekker
  • Light: Joop Caboort
  • Staging: Mea Venema
  • World premiered by Nederlands Dans Theater at AT&T Danstheater, Den Haag, April 15th, 1993. Premiered by Compañía Nacional de Danza at Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid, November 22nd, 1996.

Van Manen set Fantasía to a chorale prelude, prelude and chorale adaptation in Busoni`s piano adaptation of Bach. The set designer, Keso Dekker, designed a black framework -with transparent wings that protrude slightly onto the stage and are marked at the bottom by little red lights - in which three women appear. Their sensual undulating hip movements made in unison entice the men, whose response in allegro is powerful, almost robust. Then the tone becomes more serious. Both sexes take up positions opposite each other. They stand frozen for a moment on opposite sides of the stage, face to face, as if at the beginning of a competition, waiting.

A duet follows. Its tone, mainly lyrical, has a youthful, fresh accent. After a powerful, then often repeated, intermezzo by the group, another duet follows. This time it is powerful and militant, although there are also moments of tenderness and abandonment. Then a wonder takes place. The intensive sounds of Bach`s piano suddenly begin to resemble those of Beethoven, of his Adagio Hammerklavier, to which Van Manen set his ballet of the same name for dancers of the Dutch National Ballet in 1973. Here too, the women of the couples are lifted into the air one by one until they form a closely knit collective that together performs a very subdued dance. In this literal excerpt, twenty years later, Van Manen`s creation again comes to life but in another form.

Time and place have changed, the action is the same. This brief flashback is as much a grand invention as it is a tribute to the dancers. That time has not stood still is also evident in the exquisite closing duet, which again clearly demonstrates that Van Manen`s style has evolved under the influence of these dancers: it has been rejuvenated without loss of depth or power.

Isabelle Lanze, "Trouw", April 1993



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    • Texts: CND