P4M.Online.Video.Festival.DAY12: Wim Vandekeybus / Ultima Vez (Brussels, Belgium)

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Contemporary Performance is hosting an online video festival of performance works and excerpts from 06.14.2010 to 07.02.2010. We’ve curated some of our favorite user submissions and online videos from today’s leading contemporary artists and embeded them here. The videos range in purpose and content and include rehearsal videos, process videos, performance documentation, lectures, made for video, dance on camera, video art, and vj.

DAY 12

Wim Vandekeybus / Ultima Vez

Director, choreographer, actor and photographer Wim Vandekeybus was born on June 30th, 1963 in Herenthout (Belgium). Brought up in a rural environment as a son of a veterinarian, Vandekeybus was often in contact with animals in their natural environment. These experiences had a great emotional impact on him. Animals, their movements, their instinctive reactions and their trust in their own physical power are often integrated into his performances.
He began his studies in psychology in Leuven, but did not complete them, irritated, as he says himself, by the surplus of ‘objective science’. His interest in the complex relationship between body and spirit remained. A workshop with the Flemish theatre director and playwright Paul Peyskens brought him into contact with theatre. He followed some dance courses (classic, modern, tango) and took up film and photography.
In 1985 he auditioned for Jan Fabre. Vandekeybus was chosen and during two years he travelled the world with the The Power of Theatrical Madness, playing one of the two naked kings. While touring with Jan Fabre he met painter/photographer Octavio Iturbe in Madrid, who later became an important artistic collaborator.
In 1986 he withdrew for several months in Madrid with a group of young, inexperienced dancers calling themselves Ultima Vez (Spanish for ‘Last Time’) to work on his first production.
In June 1987 What the Body Does Not Remember premièred at the Toneelschuur in Haarlem (the Netherlands). The dancing in What the Body… was powered by the music of Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch. With tempestuous energy and strength the performers made daring leaps, launched themselves into the air and smartly intercepted each other’s falls. Bricks were thrown above each other’s heads. Every gesture had to stick to an absolutely

Director, choreographer, actor and photographer Wim Vandekeybus was born on June 30th, 1963 in Herenthout (Belgium). Brought up in a rural environment as a son of a veterinarian, Vandekeybus was often in contact with animals in their natural environment. These experiences had a great emotional impact on him. Animals, their movements, their instinctive reactions and their trust in their own physical power are often integrated into his performances.

He began his studies in psychology in Leuven, but did not complete them, irritated, as he says himself, by the surplus of ‘objective science’. His interest in the complex relationship between body and spirit remained. A workshop with the Flemish theatre director and playwright Paul Peyskens brought him into contact with theatre. He followed some dance courses (classic, modern, tango) and took up film and photography.

In 1985 he auditioned for Jan Fabre. Vandekeybus was chosen and during two years he travelled the world with the The Power of Theatrical Madness, playing one of the two naked kings. While touring with Jan Fabre he met painter/photographer Octavio Iturbe in Madrid, who later became an important artistic collaborator.

In 1986 he withdrew for several months in Madrid with a group of young, inexperienced dancers calling themselves Ultima Vez (Spanish for ‘Last Time’) to work on his first production.

In June 1987 What the Body Does Not Remember premièred at the Toneelschuur in Haarlem (the Netherlands). The dancing in What the Body… was powered by the music of Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch. With tempestuous energy and strength the performers made daring leaps, launched themselves into the air and smartly intercepted each other’s falls. Bricks were thrown above each other’s heads. Every gesture had to stick to an absolutely precise timing; the performers put their trust in and surrendered to their instincts.

Although the première was received with scepticism, the performance was soon being presented on international stages. In 1988, Wim Vandekeybus received the Bessie Award in New York for this production, which was credited “a brutal confrontation of dance and music: the dangerous, combative landscape of What the Body Does Not Remember.”

Since What the Body… Wim Vandekeybus has created nearly twenty performances with changing international casts and has made nearly as many film and video productions. From his very first performance, music has been an important stimulus for his productions. He has commissioned works from, among others, Peter Vermeersch, Thierry De Mey, David Byrne, Marc Ribot, Eavesdropper and David Eugene Edwards.

Ultima Vez “Spiegel”

Games are played: a dancer throws a stone in the air and remains under it until another dancer pulls or pushes him away, catching the stone. Every movement requires absolutely precise timing, and the dancers’ inexhaustible energy physically impacts viewers, setting them on the edge of their seats. Since his sensational 1987 debut, Belgian dancemaker Wim Vandekeybus and his company Ultima Vez (“The Last Time”) has stunned audiences and critics alike with risk-taking choreography. Now, 20 years later, with almost as many inspired creations to his credit, Vandekeybus presents Spiegel, a powerful, erotic work in which he looks in the mirror for inspiration from his entire oeuvre, pushing Ultima Vez to its limits in a fusion of live action, film, and music seething with emotion and sensuality. The score includes works by David Byrn.

LUX

MENSKE – Ultima Vez_Wim Vandekeybus

1 Comment
  1. Sal 6 years ago

    Interesting!

    After squandering the morning watching these videos and exploring the Ultima Vez website, it seems to me that – regardless of whether or not Vandekeybus is aware of it – this is a strong example of the lineage of Meyerhold. Which excites me. I think a return to this source could be a refreshing inspiration for much of “contemporary performance.” Meanwhile, let’s struggle to take back the word “theatre” from the goons.

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