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Wim Vandekeybus (1963) is a choreographer, dancer, filmmaker and photographer. He founded his dance company, Ultima Vez, in the mid-eighties. He made a remarkable artistic debut with his first performance What the body does not remember (1987). The performance won a Bessie, an award granted for groundbreaking work. His second performance, Les porteuses de mauvaises nouvelles (1989), was also honoured with this award. In his unique style, Vandekeybus has created milestones in the development of modern dance with his performances over the last few decades, at home and abroad.
Vandekeybus has developed a signature language of movement wherein he juxtaposes intuition, impulse and instinct with energy, risk and danger, which exemplifies a dramatic Weltanschauung, full of dynamics and conflict, through the medium of dance. A central focus in his work is the irreconcilable conflict between body and mind, feeling and intellect, man and woman, nature and culture, man and animal, group and individual, illusion and reality. Vandekeybus’ work is characterised by almost obsessive reiterations of one single concern: how man responds to extreme situations. In this context, he attaches special importance to what he refers to as ‘the moment of catastrophe’ – which, ironically, does not preclude his inclusion of humour, playfulness and even a certain jocular light-heartedness in his work.
With Hands do not touch your precious Me, Wim Vandekeybus creates a mythical tale of confrontation and transformation, light and darkness, death and rebirth. For this he collaborates with the composer Charo Calvo, eight dancers and – for the first time – with performer and visual artist Olivier de Sagazan. Together they create a world in which bodies balance like living, fleshly sculptures between the utopian and the gruesome, the powerful and the fragile. The poetic, mysterious title is a verse taken from a hymn by the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna to the goddess Inanna.
Of all the myths surrounding the goddess Inanna, her spectacular descent into the underworld is the most intriguing. Inanna is the divine embodiment of the paradoxes of human existence, and her deeds are a reflection of the tensions and contradictions that every person is forced to navigate in life. Inscribed on clay tablets in cuneiform over 4,000 years ago, these are some of humankind’s most ancient stories. Regardless of their different styles, the performances by both Wim Vandekeybus and Olivier de Sagazan balance on the line of what it means to be ‘body’ and ‘man’.
At the core of de Sagazan’s work is the transfiguration of the body and the face with clay and paint into a lump of anonymous flesh. Vandekeybus’ and de Sagazan’s exploration of human limits finds a musical echo in the material and physical texture of Charo Calvo’s electroacoustic music.
With this performance, Wim Vandekeybus chucks a thousand-year-old myth directly into our laps. The tension starts when one of the dancers, trembling with doubt, brings a cup of coffee to the underworld. From there, there is no turning back.
Nieuwsblad, Magali Degrande
Direction and choreography: Wim Vandekeybus
Created with and performed: Olivier de Sagazan, Lieve Meeussen, Wim Vandekeybus, Maria Kolegova, Mufutau Yusuf, Borna Babic´, Maureen Bator, Davide Belotti, Pieter Desmet in Anna Karenina Lambrechts
Artistic creation with clay: Olivier de Sagazan
Music composed and produced by: Charo Calvo
Production: Ultima Vez