What’s on: Rasa is highlight of Ballet Flanders’ 50th season


Celebrate 50 years of Ballet Flanders at a lavish re-imagining of a 19th-century classic, boogie down with jazz greats in Brussels or explore the multiple identities of 21st-century Belgium


Tickets to Royal Ballet Flanders can be tough to get anytime, but doubly so for this magnificent production. So snap them up while you can and sit down for a three-hour retelling of the sumptuous 19th-century ballet La Bayadère.

Originally created by French choreographer Marius Petipa for Russia’s Imperial Ballet, the love story has overtones of colonialism, framing India as kitsch exoticism. Its scale, elaborate costumes and “Kingdom of the Shades” piece, however, have made it an enduring classic. Ballet Flanders artistic director Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui asked the Argentinian choreographer Daniel Proietto to rethink the ballet for a major new production to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. A whole new ballet has emerged: Rasa confronts the original’s controversies while keeping the passion intact. Costumes were conceived by Lady Gaga designer Tamae Hirokawa, and Cuban star dancer Osiel Gouneo will dance several of the performances in Antwerp. Don’t miss this highlight of Ballet Flanders’ 50th season. 25 January to 2 February, Stadsschouwburg, Antwerp; 7-12 February Opera Gent

Jazz festivals

In January, Brussels hosts not one, not two, but three jazz festivals. Pick your poison among Djangofollies (a tribute to the great Belgian-born Django Reinhardt), Brussels Jazz Festival (where locals intermingle with exciting international names) and the River Jazz Festival (hosted by three stalwart jazz clubs). Some shows are sold out already, so check all the programmes asap. 8-31 January, across Brussels

Lost in Translation

Belgium’s very character creates natural layers of identities for its citizens. You can be Flemish and Belgian or, say, Flemish and Brusselaar. When you come from another country – or even have foreign roots – there is an additional layer to contend with. While these identities are cherished and celebrated by those who share them, they are often seen as a threat by those who do not. The exhibition Lost In Translation looks at the complications of a society that has moved from homogenous to heterogenous with the arrival of refugees and workers who have flocked to the capital of the European Union. Until 1 March, De Warande, Warandestraat 42, Turnhout

Chez Bach

What would JS Bach have made of his continued influence on the world of classical music more than 250 years after his death? He would surely be intrigued by this year’s Bach Academy in Bruges, which presents not only his work but that of his sons and his many, many pupils. There are works here by more than 50 members of Bach’s extended musical family, brought together under the title Chez Bach. Among the varied programme is a free carillon concert played from the city’s historical belfry, and concerts by Collegium Vocale Gent (pictured), which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. 15-19 January, across Bruges

Photos, from top: ©Filip Van Roe/Opera Ballet Vlaanderen; Courtesy De Warande; The Milk Factory will perform at Brussels Jazz Festival ©vi.be; Courtesy Concertgebouw