25, 27, 28/05 – 20:30
Group and individual, abstract and concrete, form and formless, product and process. By exploring these fields of tension in choreographic works that are as rebellious as they are sophisticated, Thomas Hauert is developing a veritable micropolitics of bodies. Three years after Accords, one of the biggest hits of the 2008 festival, Hauert is back with a show that takes his quest for choreographic writing in a realtime dialogue with the body’s intelligence and intuition to new heights. In You’ve changed, everything starts from a choreography improvised like a system integrated into unforeseeable behaviour. Similar to a chain reaction, it led to the creation of a video, then music, then another piece of music, then another improvisation, then lights, all these propositions finally responding to one another on stage, unleashing a game of almost psychedelic interactions between the arts. For Hauert, as for the composer Dick van der Harst who is behind the music, increasing the levels of complexity is the least of the elegant offerings available to the audience.
Concept & direction
Dance created & presented by
Thomas Hauert, Fabián Barba, Liz Kinoshita, Albert Quesada, Gabriel Schenker, Theodossia Stathi, Gabor Varga, Samantha van Wissen
Dick van der Harst
Musiciens for the recording
Dick van der Harst, Inez Carsauw, Lander Gyselinck, Jouni Isoherranen, Els Van Laethem, Simone Vierlinger
Set & light design
Jan Van Gijsel
Electronic music & sound design
Peter Van Hoesen
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, alkantara festival (Lisbon), La Bâtie – Festival de Geneve, Kaaitheater (Brussels), Théâtre national de Bordeaux en Aquitaine, LOD (Ghent), Centre chorégraphique national de Franche-Comté a Belfort, Theaterhaus Gessnerallee (Zürich), Dampfzentrale (Bern)
Ministere de la Communauté française – Service de la Danse, Vlaamse Overheid, Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council, Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie
Residencies & studios
Centre chorégraphique national de Franche-Comté a Belfort in the context of the studio hosting Ministere de la Culture et de la Communication/DRAC Franche-Comté & the convention Culturesfrance/Conseil régional de Franche-Comté (Belfort), Charleroi/Danses, Centre chorégraphique de la communauté française (Charleroi), Kaaitheater (Brussels), Ultima Vez (Brussels), Rosas (Brussels)
Project coproduced by
NXTSTP, with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union
"Thomas Hauert’s dance company ZOO, a group of responsible individuals, a community practising the most intelligent, sensitive, spiritual, surprising, brave, virtuosic and political dance form that I have seen for a long time."
(Katja Werner in ‘The Critic’s Choice’, Ballet-Tanz Jahrbuch 2009)
Deploying a complex network of movements connected in time and space, the choreographic language of Thomas Hauert could be seen as an extension of the tradition of abstract dance. Yet his highly polyphonic ‘writing’ comes to light on stage entirely through improvisation. What makes his work unique, and meaningful, is that it aims to make order emerge from disorder, form from the formless, a group from individuals, while leveraging the exceptional quality of perception, attention and concentration made possible by improvisation. The choreography is seen as a microcosm in which individuals constantly negotiate between their freedom and creativity and their desire to connect with others. Touching on the concepts of free will and responsibility, it seems to reflect the negotiations, conflicts, tensions and resolutions at work in these social systems. In the space of one show, there is indeterminacy, retrospective justification, the tinker’s improvisation, limited vision, opportunities discovered too late, temptation to follow familiar paths, and an open future. In a sense, the forces by which we are confronted with our human condition. Imperfection becomes the personal signature of commitment, the index of a search for virtue, rather than a public sign of failure.
The matrix You’ve changed is a choreographed piece that unfolds without the intervention of a central authority. It forms an integrated dynamic system of unpredictable behaviour, in which some dancers initiate movement and others react to it, this reaction triggering another movement within the same structure or initiating a new development. Drawing freely on a shared directory of physical principles incorporated during a long process of creation, the dancers are responsible for the invention and implementation of their own movements on stage, but also for the creation and development of group structures. They must adapt their individual role within a dynamic constellation whose mechanisms are constantly changing. Virtuosic. And a real challenge. But also a powerful ‘statement’: the cognitive abilities of such a system far exceed the mere sum of the individual abilities of the dancers. To a large extent, it relies on intuition – as Hauert emphasises, a neurophysiological faculty could be developed through experience.
Like a chain reaction, this improvised choreography served as the basis for creating a video, then music, then more music, then more improvisation, then lighting, all these proposals finally encountering each other on stage. Here, in other words, a self-structured choreography becomes the structure upon which everything else rests: the creative process of individual decision, with all its imperfections, as the basis for a presentation of great polyphonic complexity. We could see in this project a search for form in an epoch in which form raises – perhaps rightly – distrust, due to its arbitrary, authoritarian and simplistic character. Thomas Hauert does not invent forms but processes that contain an inherent ‘desire to form’.
The relationship between dance and music is a dimension that Hauert has been exploring tirelessly since the beginning of his career. In Accords (2008), for example, the dancers ‘piggy back’ on existing musical scores, playing their bodies like instruments, the music made ’visible’ through a complex network of actions and reactions by individuals and supra-individuals. In You’ve changed, to the contrary, movement precedes the music. Moreover, it’s the musicality inherent in the movement that formed the basis for the musical composition. Thomas Hauert asked Dick van der Harst, artist-in-residence at LOD and famous for his collaborations with director Alain Platel and Eric De Volder, to compose original music on a dance proposed by the ZOO performers – and filtered through the medium of video. Written for a small ‘rock band’ and three singers, this music, in its turn, served as material for Peter Van Hoesen, which he then interpreted by digital means to compose electronic pieces. The two musical worlds, analogue and digital, are connected to one another, and also, in some way, to the movement on stage – through a process of mutual influence.
You’ve changed reflects a genuine love for dance as form, as language, as art. It’s a physical piece to experience in a very direct way. The pleasure of dance. But it is also more than that. Fundamental to the work of Thomas Hauert is that it preserves the freedom of performers as spectators. Concerning the relationship between individual freedom and social cohesion, You’ve changed reactivates from a contemporary perspective issues that have a long history. This especially calls to mind the utopian cultural experiences of the years 1960-70, a moment of articulation in which the dreams of modernism’s social engineering collapse under the onslaught of a new, postmodern vision, the ‘subject’. A period, too, in which the experiments that took place in the field of dance reverberate even today in work like that of ZOO. But since then, water has flowed and mirrors have broken... This new presentation by Thomas Hauert might invite us to ask ourselves this question: How have we changed?Back to top
In 1998 the Swiss dancer Thomas Hauert (°1967), having built up a wealth of experience dancing alongside Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Pierre Droulers, David Zambrano and Gonnie Heggen, decided to set up his own company: ZOO. With four fellow dancers – Mark Lorimer, Sara Ludi, Mat Voorter and Samantha van Wissen – whom he had met at the Rotterdam Dance Academy and in the Rosas dance company, he started work on creating Cows in Space. The show premiered in Kortrijk and was an immediate hit, won prizes at the renowned Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, and went on to be performed in numerous venues in Belgium and abroad. The same quintet went on to create Pop-Up Songbook (1999), Jetzt (2000) and Verosimile(2002). In 2001, Thomas Hauert presented his solo piece Do You Believe in Gravity? Do You Trust the Pilot?. For the ZOO company’s fifth production, 5 (2003), the choreographer invited each dancer to produce a personal piece. For his own, Common Senses, he directed an improvisation for ten dancers. The original members of ZOO were then joined by Martin Kilvady and Chrysa Parkinson, who went on to be involved in all the following ZOO productions: modify(2004), More or Less Sad Songs (2005), Walking Oscar (2006), puzzled (2007) and accords (2008). Zoë Poluch joined the company in 2007. Alongside shorter collaborations, ZOO has also developed long-term associations with set and lighting designers Simon Siegmann and Jan Van Gijsel, musicians and composers Bart Aga and Alejandro Petrasso, and fashion designers Thierry Rondenet and Hervé Yvrenogeau (OWN).Back to top