Flanders is home to a prolific, creative and radical contemporary dance scene with choreographers and dancers alike questioning and breaking through the traditional and institutionalised dance norms of the (Western) canon. During Africa Month, the Flemish Dance Season showcases two productions, Requiem pour L. and (B), from 28 May until 8 June 2019 at Johannesburg’s Market Theatre and Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre. On behalf of Creative Feel, Siyandiswa Dokoda had the opportunity to have a conversation with Dr Geraldine Reymenants, General Representative of the Government of Flanders, about this season.
Siyandiswa Dokoda: Can you tell us about the Flemish Dance Season?
Geraldine Reymenants: The Flemish Dance Season in South Africa kicked off in March with Rule of Three. This dynamic, challenging and beautiful work, choreographed by Jan Martens and with live music by NAH, set the tone for the two productions that will be performed at the Market and Baxter Theatres by two of the foremost Flemish dance companies, les ballets C de la B and Siamese Cie. Requiem Pour L. is musically directed by Fabrizio Cassol with Alain Platel augmenting this modern interpretation of Mozart’s Requiem with images and associations, while choreographic duo Koen Augustijnen and Rosalba Torres Guerrero explore the fusion of boxing and dance in the multi-layered production (B). Both these upcoming productions demonstrate the innovative and eclectic interpretation of contemporary dance from Flanders.
SD: Why do you think Brussels has earned the title of ‘contemporary dance capital of Europe’?
GR: Contemporary dance from Flanders and Brussels has a large international resonance. Not only through the visionary and creative approaches, but by allowing more social, cultural and gender diversity influences. The dance scene has over the years absorbed the richness of international collaborations and the impact has resulted in cross-cultural and gripping productions.
SD: Tell us more about Requiem pour L. and (B).
GR: Requiem pour L., directed by Alain Platel (les ballets C de la B), is a deeply philosophical work that translates our anxieties about mortality into art. Composer Fabrizio Cassol reconstructs Mozart’s emblematic Requiem and merges the funeral composition with jazz, opera and African music, performed by 14 musicians from different continents, building a visual world of death and ritual for musicians and dancers to inhabit.
(B), created by choreographic duo Koen Augustijnen and Rosalba Torres Guerrero (Siamese Cie), is a dazzling interaction between dancers and boxers, between the Ars Pugilistica (the art of boxing) and the art of dance. The large-scale set recalls a boxing arena, creating a space wherein two worlds and two disciplines spar with, yet complement, each other.
SD: Why was it important for these productions to come to South Africa?
GR: Through the likes of Gregory Maqoma, Dada Masilo, George Khumalo and Moya Michael, South Africa has contributed to the eclectic and continuously evolving contemporary dance aesthetic in Flanders. We would like to share this with South African audiences with the intention of creating bridges to the enclave that is contemporary dance.
(B) – Koen Augustijnen and Rosalba Torres Guerrero / Siamese Cie
31 May – 1 June: Market Theatre, Johannesburg
7 – 8 June: Baxter Theatre Centre, Cape Town
Tickets available on webtickets.co.za or at Pick n Pay stores.