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
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
Wim Vandekeybus stuns the dance world with his premiere production What the Body Does Not Remember
Performing Arts Decree is signed, enabling dance companies to receive structural government funding