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The future is moving, the question is: how?

When the difference between the performer during the performance and afterwards is at least a thick metre, you know you are dealing with a great artist. Australian dancer Olympia Kotopoulos is a great artist, because on stage she fills the space, while in real life she barely counts one and a half metres. Art is, literally, larger than life.

I saw Olympia Kotopoulos in the performance What Lies Beneath, made by Veerle van Overloop at her Groningen 'home' Shelfish Productions. Site of the confrontation was Utrecht's Theater Kikker where the travelling festival Moving Futures had settled down for two days.


Moving Futures is about young dance makers, in which that word 'young' can thus be taken broadly: Veerle van Overloop has been around for a while: I once saw her opposite Jacob Derwig in a legendary Platonov at 't Barre Land (2000).

On the other hand, Olympia Kotopoulos, at 23, is young again and thus completely Gen Z, like the two other performers of this evening, the popping&locking performers Argil & Hassani. They performed a touching boy's play about two humanoid superheroes who had been apprenticed to late great mime artist Rob van Reijn: lots of gemime'the glass walls and narrative acts in a half-hour of movement.

Filter bubble

Not entirely coincidentally, both performances deal with the information overload the world seems to be going down with at the moment. Among today's young people, this leads to paradoxical behaviour. Whereas professionals like me still want to do their best to keep up with everything via the old and established media, Gen Z turns its back on it, goes into hiding in the Marvel universe, or exclusively follows what passes for the world via TikTok or YouTube: finely filtered in a bubble where everything you don't like is kept out of sight by diligent algorithms.

Olympia Kotopoulos got in the middle of making What Lies Beneath a rather disconcerting revelation. Growing up in Australia, which she says is one big bubble in world politics, it was only in the Netherlands that she discovered how much news there is. Again a little later, once working with Veerle van Overloop, she found out that her father had been employed for 10 years at Reuters, the news agency that remains one of the most important news sources worldwide.


What the conversations at the table were about then, in Olympia's youth, I did not ask, but the discovery that her father had lived at the heart of world news proved to be a breakthrough in Veerle van Overloop's project. With What Lies Beneath she wants to offer an almost all-encompassing critique of the way media grind not only the news itself into bite-sized chunks, but also the people who 'make' that news, whether they are the journalists, or the people whose fates they report on. Van Overloop uses stories of journalists and victims on tape, an extreme close-up of an actress who appears to be talking about African horrors, a graffiti artist, all on a soundtrack of ambient sounds.

That's a lot, and quite ambitious, I can conclude afterwards. Not ugly, certainly appealing, but so incredibly intense and multi-layered that you do feel a little inclined to crawl away in a cosy corner with a fine fairy tale book about superheroes catching the world in an oyster. Or something with TikTok.

It is, of course, also a dilemma for the artist Veerle van Overloop, who wonders whether, by disinteresting in the underlying story, we are not digging our own grave: do you show how many of the real stories we are still missing, and there are many, or do you take one of those stories and hang your anger, impotence and frustration on it?

You can talk about that for a long time afterwards, I have discovered.

Experienced: Moving Futures on Saturday 1 April including What Lies Beneath by Shelfish productions.

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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