An audience favorite, Compagnie Thor, returns to the festival in the season which is a celebrating of their 20 year anniversary, with a performance which presents a radical return to pure, highly aesthetic dance.
“There is no knowledge without dance,
the first dance being the incessant movement of the mind »
Bamana proverb, Mali.
In To the Ones I Love, Thierry Smits places nine dancers of African descent on the stage. More precisely, for this choice is a vital one, he uses nine dancers whose complexions hark back to Africa. In short, they are dark – either black or of mixed race. These dancers have different nationalities but belong to the world, and the fact that they are scattered over several continents proves that the world belongs to them despite the discriminatory reflexes that are incarnated in today’s immigration policies and talk about national identity. The mixing of races and cultures mocks these retreats behind the walls of identity, defies all categorisation, and transmits a troubling, implacable message of change, for tomorrow humankind will be mixed or it will not be.
Thierry Smits’s message is not political, however. It deliberately sets out to be aesthetic and refuses all concessions to exoticism. The principle is to set bodies used to “Western” choreographic techniques but nevertheless shaped by other traditions and dances in motion. They dance in a white decor and are literally transported by Johan Sebastian Bach’s music, by its overflowing generosity and immense virtuosity. The challenge is obviously to manage the unexpected outcomes of the meeting of different cultural references.
In putting nine bodies sculpted and sublimated by dance and music on the stage, Thierry Smits issues a message of love by giving a metaphorical dimension to the difference of the loved one, for the other one whom one loves is, by definition, different from the one of oneself. To celebrate twenty years of choreographic creation, Thierry Smits is treating himself to a moment of immense pleasure whilst offering his audience, family, friends, and lovers this visual gift, proof of a constantly renewed energy and an endless hunger to love passionately.
choreography: Thierry Smits
dancers: Fabio Aragão, Rudi Cole, Daudet Grazaï, Christian D. Guerematchi, Nestor Kouame, Alpha Sanneh, Dean Lee Sefton, Damien Chevron, André M. Zachery
music: J.S. Bach
soundscape: Maxime Bodson
assistant to the choreographer: Benjamin Bac
set design: Thierry Smits & Thomas Beni
light design & technical coordination: Thomas Beni
sound technician: Eric Ronsse
costumes: Luc Gering
production: Compagnie Thor
coproduction: Théâtre de la Place, Théâtre de Namur, With friendly support of CNCDC Châteauvallon, Musikteater Baltoppen and De Velinx – Tongeren
with the support of Ministère de la Communauté française de Belgique, Service de la Danse ; Wallonie-Bruxelles International
Born in Koersel (Belgium), Thierry Smits studied ballet and modern dance in Brussels and Paris. After a short career as a dancer, he soon began choreographing.
With his first choreography, La Grâce du tombeur, presented in 1990 at the Halles de Schaerbeek in Brussels, he quickly gained international acclaim in the world of contemporary dance. Since then, he has been a tireless choreographer for his own company and other theatre companies and groups.
In his performances, oscillating between pure dance and dramatization, and in which his technical rigour and his gestural inventiveness are always present, mankind’s relationship to sex and the sacred frequently occupies a central role. The body – as object of desire, pleasure and finiteness – has been the very subject of Thierry Smits’ choreographic research over the past several years. This is not only because the body is obviously the matter and tool of the choreographer’s trade, but also with Eros délétère (1991), followed by the solo Cyberchrist (1995), Corps(e) (1998); and Red Rubber Balls (1999), Thierry Smits has founded his work upon the very notion of corporeality and the tensions that exist between the climaxing body, the ‘body as sex’, and the intimately diseased body that is doomed to disappear.
In addition to his work focused on complex subjects and linked to an element ‘outside’ dance, Thierry Smits concentrates on dance itself – referring to nothing other than itself -, as he had done for the first time in Soirée dansante (1995). With Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (2001), Dionysos’ Last Day / Stigma (2003) and D’ORIENT (2005), he continues this line begun previously, here giving priority to a study of form, choreographic composition, and the search for movement.
Thierry Smits’ work was recognized in 1995 when he received the SACD-Belgium prize, and again in 1998, for his creation Corps(e), for which he received the Belgium Océ prize for the performing arts of the French speaking community.