Skip to content

De Keersemaeker purifies the ears with her dance, but how do you sustain such a pure experience? #hf10

 By Maarten Baanders (photo by Herman Sorgeloos)

Calmly we stand at the door of the hall. A bit like it Holland Festival is a drag. No one suspects that in a few minutes, existence will be reduced to almost nothing. It starts with darkness. Silence. For minutes. Soft footsteps sound. The ears are tuned to it in detail. There is singing. Mahler's Lied von der Erde, announced the programme booklet of Keeping Still - part I, but what you hear is only the voice of choreographer/dancer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. No more is needed.
Suddenly, a bright beam of light appears. Rarely has light been so tangible. De Keersmaeker puts her hand on it, pushes her leg against it, draws shadowy lines with her head and arms.
A dramatic moment follows when she collides with dancer David Hernandez. The collision leads to an embrace and then movements that are more audible than visible and therefore ominous.
De Keersmaeker reduces her surroundings to the essentials, then builds something up. The shutters open. Daylight floods in. De Keersmaeker dances. What a phenomenal art of movement! With magisterial suppleness, she gives subtlety to the clear, simple movements. A personality fills the room.
Then a recording of Mahler's composition sounds anyway. It is clean-washed melancholy. De Keersmaeker is filled with it. For a moment, the listening threatens to grind to a halt, but she soon makes up for it with new, slightly brighter movements. At the end, she sits among the audience watching the huge empty space. You watch with her, with wonder. That space, that's her.
This performance, with all its poetry, has a very prosaic message: we need to be careful with the environment. The smallest things are precious. A child's voice reads a text about respect for the earth. This could be flatly moralistic, but it is still good to hear this with cleared ears.
Outside the hall, normal life awaits. We leave the building as calmly as we entered. The terraces on the Westergasfabriek grounds are bathed in exuberant sunshine. The beam of light from the performance cannot compete with this. Is there anything left of the show's fragile edginess? You don't notice it. But Anne Teresa returns to this Holland Festival twice more. What will happen to the fledgling beginning she created this evening?

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and Ann Veronica Janssens (lighting design), Keeping Still - part I. Seen: 2 June, Transformatorhuis, Westergasfabriek. Still to be seen there: 4 June

The Song, 5 and 6 June, Music Theatre Amsterdam
3Abschied, 12 and 13 June, Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Comments are closed.

Maarten Baanders

Free-lance arts journalist Leidsch Dagblad. Until June 2012 employee Marketing and PR at the LAKtheater in Leiden.View Author posts

Private Membership (month)
5€ / Maand
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Own mastodon account
Access to our archives
Small Membership (month)
18€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of less than €250,000 per year
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Posting press releases yourself
Extra attention in news coverage
Large Membership (month)
36€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of more than €250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Share press releases with our audience
Extra attention in news coverage
Premium Newsletter (substack)
5 trial subscriptions
All our podcasts

Payments are made via iDeal, Paypal, Credit Card, Bancontact or Direct Debit. If you prefer to pay manually, based on an invoice in advance, we charge a 10€ administration fee

*Only for annual membership or after 12 monthly payments

en_GBEnglish (UK)