He is in a league of his own and his signature is unique, say the critics. The words are about Wim Vandekeybus - the Belgium choreographer, director, actor, photographer and cameraman, who founded Ultima Vez in 1986.
Vandekeybus’ signature is indeed hard to copy. His shows are full of aggression, faith in the instincts and physical energy, but also of intimacy, tenderness and poetry. Vandekeybus is not interested in ‘pure’ dance but rather in what can be expressed in dance: the underlying emotions, the theatrical thoughts behind movement, the communication between the performers on stage. He is after the connection of man with the animal and this has its logical explanation: Vandekeybus grew up on the countryside and his father was a veterinary surgeon. As a student Wim began studying psychology, but dropped it. However, he kept his interest in the correlation between body and soul and that lead him to theatre and dancing classes. In 1985 Wim won an audition for Ian Fabre and travelled with his shows for two years. Then he set up a workshop in Madrid and founded Ultima Vez - the rest is now considered history.
Even though Ultima Vez initially gathered inexperienced dancers, its name quickly became a legend and a synonym for one of the bravest and most innovative companies in Europe. Their first show was called What the Body Does Not Remember. The intensive and aggressive performance gained Ultima Vez world recognition and brought the company a Bessie Award in New York. “ Wim Vandekeybus wrote a chapter of history. No one else, excluding Jan Fabre, had ever done that – to bring real danger on stage”, the Belgian newspaper De Morgen says.
The next twenty years were followed by twenty new shows and about twenty short movies and video works. Vandekeybus uses a lot of video and music – mostly vanguard rock. He has worked with the sound of Talking Heads’ lead singer-David Byrne and Frank Zappa amongst others.
At Sofia Dance Week Ultima Vez will perform a new show based on parts of old performances. The show is a reflection on Ultima Vez’s 20 years of history and development. It gathers the seven scenes that made the company a legend. There is the famous controversial scene from What the Body Does Not Remember – someone throws a brick, someone else moves and then a third person catches it. The dancers depend on each other and also on their own instincts. “This is the ideal start for beginners, a good reminder for the veterans and an energetic bomb for the dance lovers,” the Belgian De Standdard says about Mirror.
Duration: 90 min.
Direction, Choreography & Film: Wim Vandekeybus
Performed by: Laura Arís Alvarez, Konstantina Efthimiadou, Elena Fokina, Robert M. Hayden, Piotr Giro, Jorge Jauregui Allue, Ulrike Reinbott, Giovanni Scarcella, Helder Seabra
Originally created with & performed by (2006-2007): Mala Kline, Thi-Mai Nguyen, Manuel Ronda
Music: Arno & Ad Cominotto, David Byrne, Thierry De Mey, Pierre Mertens, Marc Ribot, Peter Vermeersch
Movement Assistant & Rehearsal Director: Iñaki Azpillaga
Dramaturge & Assistant: Wim Vandekeybus Greet Van Poeck
Styling: Isabelle Lhoas assisted by Frédérick Denis
Scenography: Wim Vandekeybus assisted by Isabelle Lhoas, Daniel Huard
Backdrop: Johan Daenen
Lighting Design: Wim Vandekeybus, Francis Gahide, Ralf Nonn
Sound Editing: Benjamin Dandoy
Technical Coordination & Sound Engineering on tour: Ralf Nonn
Stage Manager on tour: Daniel Huard
Lighting Engineering on tour: Alban Rouge
Costume Workshop: Stéphanie Croibien, Heidi Ehrhart
Set Realization: Daniel Huard, Jef Dubois, Atelier Kvs, Isabelle Lhoas, Britt Angé, Heidi Ehrhart, Raphaël Gheerardyn
Actors Film: Iñaki Azpillaga, François Brice, Carmelo Fernandez
Thanks to Eduardo Torroja, Kvs, Louise De Neef, Jef Dubois, Bart Verberckmoes
Spiegel is based on excerpts of: What the Body Does Not Remember (1987), Immer das Selbe gelogen (1991), Bereft of a Blissful Union (1996), 7 for a Secret never to be told (1997), In Spite of Wishing and Wanting (1999) and Inasmuch as Life is Borrowed… (2000)
Production: Ultima Vez
Co-production: KVS (Brussels), PACT Zollverein/Choreographisches Zentrum NRW (Essen), Théâtre de la Ville-Paris
Ultima Vez is supported by the Flemish Government & the Flemish Community Commission of the Brussels Capital Region.
Dubbed the Flemish School (doubters call it “Euro crash”), this is not cool, American-style modern dance that scrupulously avoids emotional content. It emerged from Belgium’s fertile arts laboratory of the 1980s of which Vandekeybus is considered a key proponent and a must-see artist.
What would Spiegel be like? The answer is simple: it’s fantastic. It’s to be seen urgently by all those who have forgotten that Wim Vandekeybus is dance in its pure state, violent, athletic, exhausting, a sensual and warlike combat…Wim Vandekeybus is a bomb in the world of dance.
La Libre Belgique, 2006
This was dance that defied gravity, defied convention, defied expectations. Vandekeybus intended to keep the audience on the edge of its collective seat with startling moments that periodically and unalterably grabbed its attention.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Homepage
It is in many ways like a remixed Greatest Hits from any iconic rock band, hitting us between the eyes with the heaviest metal before bringing it all to a close in the mental chill-out room.