Flemish director transforms dance into visual art


Stage director Jan Decorte explores the poetry of the body in a new show in which strong images trump actual dance moves

Choreography, but not as you know it

You either love him or hate him. Stage director, actor and court jester Jan Decorte has always avoided convention, opening up his artistic horizon to more bumpy paths than his contemporaries, who often seem to be striving for perfection.

Decorte’s childlike evocations of dance may be an acquired taste, they do touch the bare essences. Not because they are necessarily a delight to watch, but because they express the whole human palette of emotions, from rough to tender, with a cry and a smile.

In recent years, choreography has become a regular part of the Flemish performer’s stage acts. In the past he worked with dancers such as Charlotte Vanden Eynde, Sharon Zückerman and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Still, Much Dance is, after 2010’s Tanzung, only his second show putting movement up front.

Perhaps Much Love or Less Dance would have been a more appropriate title, as the often silly and blunt dance moves (not to mention a rather grotesque pony ride) will leave no lasting impact on you as you exit the theatre. A few strong images – stills of intimate scenes, expressing vulnerability and/or dealing with mortality – are what will accompany you home.

It justifies Decorte’s claim that Much Dance is closer to visual art (painting or even sculpture) than to dance. The “choreographer” puts two couples on stage, celebrating passion, hugging and caring for each other, but also experiencing the downsides of love.

Decorte, most of the time watching from one side on a crutch, pairs himself with his long-time muse, Sigrid Vinks, while the more playful Bacchae-inspired heavyweight Benny Claessens faces his skinny Estonian boyfriend, Risto Kübar, who recites poems from the battlefield of love between scenes.

It’s not these fast-paced words by Decorte nor the sporadically played music that make the difference. The poetry of the body, failing but moving on, is what does.
9-10 December at NTGent, Ghent
16-17 December at STUK, Leuven

Stage director Jan Decorte explores the poetry of the body in a new show in which strong images trump actual dance moves.

LinkedIn this

Flemish dance

Flemish choreographers are considered some of the best in the world, and the region is known for the number of top choreographers based here. Contemporary dance has been flourishing in Flanders since the 1980s, when a handful of choreographers known as the "Flemish wave" drew international attention with radically innovative works.
Names - Pioneering Flemish dance choreographers include Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Alain Platel, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Wim Vandekeybus and Jan Fabre.
Funding - Dance companies Rosas, Ultima Vez, Les Ballets C de la B and the Royal Ballet receive the lion’s share of available government funding.
School - Founded by De Keersmaeker and based in Brussels, P.A.R.T.S. became the first professional school in Belgium focused on contemporary dance.
1 987

Wim Vandekeybus stuns the dance world with his premiere production What the Body Does Not Remember

1 993

Performing Arts Decree is signed, enabling dance companies to receive structural government funding

1 995

P.A.R.T.S. founded