What’s on: A most excellent dance festival and an ode to language and the arts


The December arts scene is bursting, kicking off with Brussels’ novel festival dedicated to the arts and culture of four distinct communities and continuing with the opening of the Antwerp Opera’s new pop-up cafe and Bruges’ wonderful December Dance

December Dance

With a new choreographer curating the programme every year, Bruges’ excellent festival of dance consistently feels new. French choreographer Christian Rizzo’s multi-faceted talents (rock music, fashion design) ensures a diversity of selections, while his theme of bodies in transformation also ensures a focus – if not conformity.

Highlights include Rizzo’s own company, ICI-CCN of Montpellier, which opens the festival next Thursday with Le syndrome Ian – a reference to Joy Division singer Ian Curtis. Disco, post-punk and new wave meet, but can they all get along? Also check out Lyon Ballet’s The Second Detail and Batsheva Dance Company’s Last Work (pictured), a celebration of difference that will fortunately not live up to its name. 7-17 December, across Bruges


It’s a tower of babble in Molenbeek’s Sint-Jan-Baptist Church this weekend. The diverse Brussels neighbourhood is certainly the appropriate place for Passa Porta house of literature to hold the second edition of Passages, a free poetry and music festival, which this year puts four local communities in the spotlight: Sufism, Berber, Greek and Turkish. Each group gets its own space in the church to share poetry, live music, a bit of art and even some of their traditional food and drink. All rooms are busy the whole time, so visitors can just pop in and out. And multiple languages will be in use, including English, French and Dutch. 16.00-21.00, 2-3 December, Sint-Jan-Baptist Church, Sint-Jan-Baptistvoorplein, Brussels

Operaplein 1

Would you like to arrange a meeting in Roman Empress Agrippina’s salon, drink an espresso under Tuscan chandeliers or tell tall tales around the table were students waited for the protagonist of The Tales of Hoffmann? Everything is possible at the pop-up cafe Operaplein 1, an enchanting addition to the square in front of Antwerp’s opera house until next summer. Sets from the opera will decorate the space, and it will change regularly. Several events will repeat every month: a special celebrity guest will lead an evening of performance, a coffee concert will consist of anything from live music to storytelling and the “Wondernight” will feature live music and DJ sets. It all kicks off with an evening with TV personality Marcel Vanthilt on 7 December. From 7 December until July 2018, Operaplein 1, Antwerp, Thurs-Sun and on all performance days

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

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

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P.A.R.T.S. founded