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Truly something to look forward to. Krisztina de Châtel's emotions come unstuck in A frenzied mastery

'A frenzied mastery' is the name of the documentary that Manon Lichtveld and Bas Westerhof made about Krisztina de Châtel. The emotions really hit home when visiting her parents' home in Hungary.

We met them in the Rabozaal of the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam. They were also filming. Bas Westerhof and Manon Lichtveld. Cameraman Leo van Emden and I followed Koert Stuyf. Bas and Manon followed Philip Glass. It was in 2012, on 'An Evening with Philip Glass'.

That evening was memorable because after an eternity of absence, Koert Stuyf and Ellen Edinoff were back on stage. With Intaglio. It would also be the iconic dancer's last performance. Everyone was thrown back into Dutch post-modern dance history without fuss and at the same time set in the present.

It was on a different level, though, what we did. We came there mainly as ex-dancers who sensed that something special was about to happen. With no budget, we were there, and in total uncertainty about whether we could film Stuyf. Bas and Manon were from Beat the Dutch, a professional film company that works with the NPO. They often shoot portraits of dance personalities, such as Lucinda Childs and Marco Goecke.

Who was also present that evening was Krisztina de Châtel, the 'grande dame of Dutch modern dance'. Her successful career as a choreographer was based on, among other things, a training in the 1960s at the Folkwang Hochschule with Kurt Jooss and a period with Koert Stuyf in Amsterdam.

But she admitted that night that she regretted having little contact with Stuyf anymore. Couldn't have either. Often dance personalities are not that accessible. You just have to hit it off with them sometimes. Fortunately, in the end Koert generously gave us permission to film. De Châtel must have done the same with Beat the Dutch. Bas and Manon were recently able to make a very personal portrait of her.

Crenten uit de pap, Manon calls the striking dance greats of the Netherlands they can follow. So the director duo nominated the choreographer to the AVRO to make a documentary about them. That the broadcaster agreed was slightly surprising: after all, there isn't too much dance at the AVRO.

A frenzied mastery, Life and dance of Krisztina de Châtel

The documentary A frenzied mastery, Life and dance of Krisztina de Châtel is therefore really something to look forward to. Because De Châtel can also come across as unapproachable to an outsider. Moreover, contrast and confrontation are cited as important elements in her work. Won't that clash?

Interestingly, Beat the Dutch follows her all the way to her childhood home in Hungary. The visit there turns out to trigger a lot of emotions. This completes the picture of the award-winning choreographer, known for such timeless statements as Thron and Föld.

That the connection with Hungary is still strong is shown by the cottage on Lake Balaton that De Châtel bought a few years ago. Besides contrast and confrontation, space also remains an important element for Krisztina.

You can A frenzied mastery, Life and dance of Krisztina de Châtel seen during the 15th edition of Cinedans at EYE Amsterdam taking place from 14 to 18 March 2018.

Ruben Brugman

writing ex-dancerView Author posts

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