Belgian choreographer has produced compelling individual work that has put Flanders indelibly on the movement map. Earlier this year Third Eye had the foresight to invite Keersmaeker‘s younger compatriot. Wim Vandeykeybus. to perform in Scotland. Both have consistent ability to create visceral. physically demanding work that takes away the breath ofboth the audience and the performers. The chances are that Rosas will leave behind an even greater wake than Vandekeybus‘ What the Body Does Not Remember. One critic at the New York Times described Keersmaeker as ‘the most interesting choreographer in the world‘ — an accolade never given lightly by the tough American dance establishment.
Keersmaeker’s choreography is prodigious because it combines intellectual preoccupations with emotional intensity. She impressively encompasses the self-reﬂexiveness of American
minimalism, a concern with basic, everyday movement, built up on perfectly executed, repetitive patterns, with a full-blooded,
full-throttle European sense of
dramatic performance. Her choreography is uncompromising as it forces the audience to see her dancers not just from an aesthetic point ofview. but from a strong emotional angle as well. Our sympathy is constantly engaged. It‘s this highly accomplished synthesis of the two major styles in post-modern dance that gives her work such stature.
For their first appearance in Scotland, Rosas will perform Mikrokosmos, a three-part programme. The first and third segments are danced to Bela Bartok, with an interlude of piano music by another Hungarian composer Ligeti. In 1987 Keersmaeker asked herself ‘Do we need live music?‘ This performance stems from that question, providing what she describes as a ‘concert version‘ of her
work. As the title suggests, Keersmaeker has pulled together a microcosm, a sample of her style, performed live with the Mondrian String Quartet.
The opening section Mikrokosmos is a duet set to seven pieces for two pianos by Bartok. It involves a series of confrontations between a man and a woman, who counterpoint each other, or sometimes play together, like the instruments that accompany
them. It’s a wonderfully balanced piece.
The substantial third section of the evening is danced to the five movements of Bartok‘s plangent 1928 Fourth String Quartet. The choreography is reworked from another piece Bartok/Antekennigen originally staged in 1987. It bears all the distinctive, beguiling Keersmaeker hallmarks, featuring four women in little black skirts and big, chunky lace-up boots. The quartet moves, with childish mien, in tight cohesive patterns, with or against the musical structure,
gathering momentum. Eventually they have to abandon their short skirts to free themselves because of the increased energy demanded by the fast, symmetrical movement. They have a schoolgirlish recklessness, abandoned, revelling in their antics. They prepubescently copy seductive adult ploys: smiling coyly, flapping their skirts to reveal white gym knickers, or walking the way one does when supporting a book on you head to achieve model posture. The compulsive physicalin ofthe action leaves the dancers tired, and it is here that Keersmaeker reveals the performers individuality. Emotions show through in tiny. incidental gestures — hands run in a strained manner through the hair to brush it offthe face. the adjustment of a dress strap. a shy smile which serves to highlight their innate humanity.
Anna Teresa tle [Keersmaeker will he at the Tram way Theatre. Albert Drive, Glasgow, Sat 7am! Sun 8 Oct. 8pm, £6 (£4).
The List 29 September — 12 October 1989 3