Jean and I first met when he participated in The Place Dance Prize in 2004. We started our collaboration in 2016, when I advised him on re-editing A Thread.
With Solo for Two (2018), we engaged in a full collaboration, based on our shared interest in researching the physical language of mourning. We are continuing this research with As They Are, Mantras for the Body, which translates the dramaturgy and polyphony of traditional laments into choreographic patterns.
Koen and I met early on in our careers when we both worked at Arts Center Vooruit. From 2004 until 2008 I supported the creation of bâche (2004), Import Export (2006) and Ashes (2009). These works exemplify Koen’s skill in mixing different, eclectic music and dance genres while also tackling politically charged topics, such as the post-colonial economic exploitation of the African continent in Import Export.
We reconnected to collaborate on the piece Lamenta (2021), which he co-created with his partner Rosalba Torres Guerrero. The creation process of Lamenta happened while I was writing my book Performing Mourning. Laments in Contemporary Art. The two processes were closely connected, both exploring in depth the Greek tradition of the moiroloi.
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
I co-produced and presented Larbi’s first full-length work, Rien de Rien (2000), when I was dance curator at Vooruit. It was the start of a lifelong friendship and collaboration. From 2005 until 2008 I contributed to zero degrees (2005), Myth (2007), Apocrifu (2007) and Origine (2008) as a production dramaturg.
Larbi as an artist is very capable of being his own dramaturg, but sometimes the dialogue with someone else offers not only support, but also new perspectives. Following my monograph In-Between Dance Cultures, On the migratory artistic Identity of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan (2015), I am continuing to create a discourse on his work through my writing.
I met Evie as a dancer when I collaborated with Lia Haraki on Monday Mourning (2006). Over the years, I saw her own solo works and we engaged in an artistic dialogue. In 2019, she invited me to collaborate on the group work Fountains of Mojitos, a female universe in which women share their intimate thoughts and support each other.
This initial experience of working together deepened when we collaborated on a new solo work, Who Cares (2021), which was created between COVID lockdowns. We connected some of her autobiographical experiences of learning how to take care of her body with larger issues, for example how to care for our environment, the sea in particular.
I met Danièle during my first visit to FIND in Montréal in 1991. I saw Mirardor-Mi-Clos (1990) and Les bois dormants (1991), which I then invited to Arts Center Vooruit. Danièle returned to Ghent several times, including for a residency during which she created work.
We developed a strong friendship and when I moved to Montréal in 2004, we started to collaborate artistically. I worked as a dramaturg on Play it Again (2005), Là où je vis (2008) and Unfold/ 7 Perspectives (2019).
Danièle is extremely skilled in guiding her dancers into her movement language, so she doesn’t need my presence in the studio very much. Our work together focusses on the dialogue outside the studio, preparing for a new rehearsal period and helping her clarify the topics she wants to research and how she wants to further develop her language.
The first time Alex invited me to collaborate with him was on his long durational solo performance A Matter of Belief (2015). Since then, I have continued to support him in researching and developing his movement practice, which is based on repetition and transformation.
This practice has been presented in different constellations: a solo, a trio (Together, 2017) and in a large group. It has also been shown in different environments: in a gallery, a shop, a factory (Encounters #1, 2020) and office spaces (Encounters #2, 2021). It has taken place in different durations, with the year-long Negotiations (2019) being the longest so far.
There is a political dimension to the work, which questions the way dance has been produced and presented. Alex looks for alternative ways of working that are more collaborative, sustainable and inclusive.
I met Lia when she participated in Aerowaves with her first solo work Evergreen (2003). Of all the artists I have accompanied as a dramaturg, she is the most versatile. Every few years she reinvents herself, developing distinct creative methodologies and choreographic approaches.
Our friendship is so profound that it is sometimes hard to draw boundaries between professional and personal exchanges. I am officially credited as her dramaturg for I to Eye (2003), Monday Mourning (2006), Pretendance (2009), The Feast (2010), and A Future to Die For (2021).
Lia also participated in several of our Rewriting Distance performance practices and we taught workshops together on her StandUp Performance practice.
I was introduced to Akram by Jonathan Burrows. I had also known Farooq Chaudry, the producer of the Akram Khan Company, when he was still a dancer. I presented Akram’s first solo works at Arts Center Vooruit and co-produced the original version of Kaash (2002), which was finalized during a residency in Ghent.
From 2005 until 2008, I collaborated as a dramaturg on Akram’s three iconic dance duets: zero degrees (2005) with Sidi Larbi Cherkoui, Sacred Monsters (2006) with Sylvie Guillem and In-I (2008) with Juliette Binoche. I also did the dramaturgy for the group work bahok (2008), which was commissioned for the Cultural Olympiad in Beijing.
In all these works, Akram combines his virtuosic dancing, which is rooted in the Indian kathak tradition, with autobiographical storytelling, laying the foundation of his artistic signature ‘in-between’ dance cultures.
I was introduced to Joshua by my friend, the American choreographer Sara Wookey. Joshua and I collaborated on Romeo, Romeo, Romeo (2018), Game Theory (2020) and The Pursuit of Happiness (2021).
With How to do things with words (2022), we continue to explore the ambivalences between how we express emotional states with our body and how we also fake them. Joshua likes to experiment with different constellations of stage and audience, which allow for different levels of interaction. All his works are performed both as an indoor stage version and an outdoor street version.
I met Arno in 20008 when he participated in one of our Repeating Distance workshop during Impulstanz. We engaged in an artistic dialogue in 2010 when we were both living and working in Tilburg. He is the choreographer I have collaborated with on the most pieces: I is Another (2014), While We Strive (2015), I will wait for you (2016), If You Could See Me Now (2017), The Way You Sound Tonight (2018) and OSCAR (2021).
Our conversations between productions are as important as the actual rehearsals. We discuss where his desires are taking him and look for and exchange potential sources of inspiration.
Over the years, Arno has developed a strong and identifiable artistic signature, based on a repetitive and transformative movement practice and inventive spatial and temporal concepts that heighten how the audience becomes immersed in the work.
While living in Montréal, I took some authentic movement workshops with Tedi. I recognized much of my role as a dramaturg in her description of ‘the witness’. It was the starting point for me to reflect more deeply on the importance of the witness role in any creative process.
In 2012, after I had returned to Europe, Tedi invited me into a dramaturgical dialogue for her project Calendar, a year-long process in which she presented a different site-specific performance or installation every month. Its aim was to bring the changes of season in the Boreal Forest into the city. We developed a specific form of correspondence, sending each other old fashioned, hand-written letters by mail. We repeated this way of collaborating at a distance for two other site-specific works, Everyday (2014) and Crying in Public (2018).
I met Stephanie at tanzhaus nrw in Düsseldorf in one of the workshops I regularly give on dance dramaturgy and the creative process. In our fist collaboration we developed the concept of The Memory Machine (2014), an interactive installation that de- and reconstructs the memories and experiences of active participants in the German and international dance scene of the 1980s and 1990s.
With Bronze by Gold (2015), we engaged in a more traditional dramaturgical exchange for a stage production, the starting point of which was Beethoven’s Grand Fugue and Stephanie’s desire to integrate the members of the Asasello string quartet in her choreographic universe.
When I was a curator, I was already very much interested in diversifying the dance landscape. In my dramaturgical dialogue with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, we shared the vision of a non-hierarchical dance universe in which all dance techniques and styles co-exist. When Sebastian Weber invited me to collaborate with his contemporary tap dance company, I didn’t hesitate for a moment.
I have been fascinated by both the elusive nature and the power of rhythm, which I believe is the DNA of all artistic forms. It is also the main principle according to which dance is edited. Working with Sebastian on Cowboys (2018) and BATS (2021) allowed me to experience in the studio to what extent highly developed listening and rhythm skills are the very foundation of any human connection.
When I accompany artists in their creative processes, I differentiate between the various roles I might take on as a dramaturg, ranging from a more receptive witness role to a more active editor role. On the spectrum that lies between these two poles, my role as a dialogue partner is the most important contribution I can offer. As well as the artists whom I have accompanied over a longer period, there have been many others with whom I have only collaborated once or twice.
Gerard Reyes (CAN), Public/Private Parts ou l’Origine du monde, 2021
Simon Mayer (AT), Being Moved, 2020
Clément Bugnon and Matthias Kass, Cie Idem (SUI), Three Ages, 2019
Florence Boyer (F), Kaniki, 2018
Clément Bugnon and Matthias Kass, Cie Idem (SUI), Control, 2017
Georg Blaschke (AT), The Bosch Experience, 2014
Yasmine Hugonnet (SUI), Le Récital des Postures, 2014
Chiara Frigo (I) and Emmanuel Jouth (CAN), When we were old, 2013
Christopher House, Toronto Dance Theatre (CAN), Pteros Tactics, 2010
Andrea Nann (CAN), Next to each other, 2010
Andrew Harwood de Lotbinière (CAN), L’Ubiquiste, 2008
Anabel Schellekens (B), Volta, 2008
Marc Boivin (CAN), R.A.F.T. 70, 2007
Lisi Estaras, les ballets C de la B (B/ARG), Patchagonia, 2007
Anabel Schellekens (B), Vous permettez?, 2006
Sara Wookey (USA/NL), Face, 2004
Muziek Lod, Dick Van der Harst (B), Dakrismena Poulia, 2003
Before I became a full-time, freelance production dramaturg in 2002, I had already developed a curatorial practice at Arts Center Vooruit in Ghent, Belgium, where I had been the dance curator from 1990 until 2002. After I left Vooruit, I continued to curate festival formats and symposia.
Micro and Macro Dramaturgies in Dance. Creative Europe Project, 2022-2019
Dancers at Work. Colloquium on the working conditions of freelance dancers. Archipelago and Tanzquartier, Vienna, 2018
Ways of Seeing Rhythm. Research Lab. Reso and Dampfzentrale Bern, 2015
Écritures de Silence. Colloquium on Dance Dramaturgy. Théâtre Sevelin, Lausanne, 2014
Inclusive Dance: Transferable Skills of the Dance Artist. Erasmus+ project. Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts, Tilburg, 2015-2013
3rd Modul Dance Conference, Ethics in Aesthetics? For an Ecology of both the Environment and the Body. European Dance House Network and Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts, Tilburg, 2012
International Choreographer’s Week. Research Project. Dans Brabant, Tilburg 2020-2012
Bodywalks. Dance Project as part of the Corpus Festival, Bruges, 2005
Vooruit Danse en Avant and Territoires en Mouvances. A Dance Festival and Colloquium on Artistic and Cultural Identity. Presided by UNESCO in partnership with L’Agora de la Danse and UQAM - Montréal/Québec (CAN), 2003
Arts Center Vooruit, Ghent, 2002-1990
Including the following projects:
International Medea Conference. In collaboration with the Universities of Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Ghent and the National Theatre of Greece, Ghent, 2001
Vooruit = Vorwärts. Tanzhaus NRW, Düsseldorf, 2001
Venezia Danza Avanti. Teatro Fondamenta Nuove, Venice, 2000-1998
Gent Danst. In collaboration with Festival of Flanders, Ghent 2000-1992
European Production Centers: Crossing the Borders in Theatre. Mousonturm, Frankfurt, 1997