“A thrilling work: rigorous and pure, the dancing burns like dry ice . . . a stunning image of daring within order and turbulence within calm.” —Village Voice
The Walker Art Center presents the exclusive U.S. engagement of famed Belgian choreographer/dancer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker‘s FASE: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich on Thursday–Saturday, February 7–9, at 8 pm in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater. It’s hard to find a dance piece outside ballet that remains relevant a quarter-century after its creation. But the work that launched Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker to international attention still holds as complex and spellbinding today as when it premiered in 1982. It also inspires her return to the Walker.
De Keersmaeker was only in her early 20s, fresh from studies at the New York Tisch School of the Arts, when she first presented FASE: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich. The work brought invitations from international dance festivals and nudged the Belgian choreographer to create her own company, Rosas.
Music has always been the driving force behind De Keersmaeker’s dance—the relationship between music and movement is a constant launching pad for her work—but none of her pieces have held more resonance through the years than FASE. Set to Reich’s minimalist music, De Keersmaeker’s duet embodies the simple rhythmic structure, with the dance and music entwining as they grow more complex.
The piece offers “no narration other than the energy that moves it, musicality and lines of flux,” according to the French dance critic Jean-Marc Adolphe, who described FASE in a 1998 essay. “In its rigorous simplicity,” he wrote, “FASE affirmed the evidence of the new rules of play for an art form where imbalance would cease to be improvised.”
For this restaging, De Keersmaeker pairs with the principal dancer from Rosas, Tale Dolven, who was just one year old when FASE premiered.
De Keersmaeker (born in 1960 in Mechelen, raised in Wemmel) studied from 1978 to 1980 at MUDRA in Brussels, the school linked to La Monnaie and to Maurice Béjart’s Ballet of the XXth Century. In 1981, she attended the Tisch School of the Arts in New York. She presented her first production, Asch (1980), in Brussels, created Fase in 1982, and founded Rosas in 1983. Rosas danst Rosas—De Keersmaeker’s first choreography for the young company to new compositions of Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch—resulted in Rosas’ international breakthrough supported by Kaaitheater of Brussels (director Hugo De Greef). Within the framework of Kaaitheater, De Keersmaeker’s oeuvre took shape with works including Elena’s Aria (1984); Bartók/Aantekeningen (1986); a staging of Heiner Müller’s triptych Verkommenes Ufer/Medeamaterial Landschaft mit Argonauten (1987); Mikrokosmos-Monument Selbstporträt mit Reich und Riley (und Chopin ist auch dabei)/In zart fliessender Bewegung – Quatuor Nr.4, (1987); Ottone, Ottone (1988); Stella (1990); and Achterland (1990) produced in collaboration with Kaaitheater.
In 1992, La Monnaie’s general director Bernard Foccroulle invited Rosas to become the resident company of Brussels’ Royal Opera De Munt/La Monnaie. De Keersmaeker’s three residency objectives were to intensify the relation between dance and music, to build a repertoire, and to launch a dance school (after the disappearance of MUDRA from Brussels in 1988). In 1995, Rosas and La Monnaie launched in Brussels a new international school for contemporary dance, P.A.R.T.S.—Performing Arts Research & Training Studios, where students from some 25 countries are trained, over a three-year period.
Both the performances and the films of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker have been distinguished by various international awards. Rosas danst Rosas won the Bessie Award (1988), Mikrokosmos received a Japanese Dance Award for the best foreign production (1989), Stella got the London Dance and Performances Award (1989), Drumming was prized with the Golden Laurel Wreath for the best choreography in Sarajevo (October 1998). The film Hoppla! was awarded a Sole d’Oro in Italy and the Grand Prix Vidéo Danse in Sète (1989). The film Rosa has been distinguished by a Dance Screen Award, received a Special Jury Commendation in the Black and White Short Film Competition at the Film Festival in Cork and was selected for the 49th Mostra Interazionale d’Arte Cinematografica in Venice (1992). In 1994, in Lyon, a Dance Screen Award was bestowed on the film Achterland (1994), while the film Rosas danst Rosas obtained the Grand Prix International Vidéo Danse in 1997 and the special prize of the Jury of the International Festival of Film and New Media on Art in Athens in 1998. In 2000, the short film Tippeke received the Grand Prix Carina Ari of the Festival International Media Dance in Boulogne-Billancourt. In 1995, De Keersmaeker received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa at the VUB (Flemish University in Brussels). In 1996 the government of the province of Antwerp awarded her the Eugène Baie prize, and in 2000 she was awarded by the French Republic the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres title. In 2002 she received the annual award of the Gabriella Moortgat Stichting and la médaille de Vermeil from the City of Paris and a medal (‘Erepenning’) of the Belgian Flemish government. In 2004 she was awarded the “Keizer Karelprijs” from the province of Oost Vlaanderen.
Tickets to Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s FASE: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich are $28 ($23 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.