Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (Eng.)

Critical Theatre Lexicon 1998English

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Contextual note

The critical theatre lexicon is a series of portraits of major dramatic artists of the twentieth century. These portraits are commissioned by the Flemish Theatre Institute and the four universities: U.I.Antwerp, University of Ghent, K.U.Leuven & V.U.Brussels. This publication forms part of an all-embracing historical project on the performing arts in Flanders in the twentieth century. The editorial board comprises theatre academics from the four universities and people from the theatre world. Publication started in september 1996.

Photographs published in the book:

[1] Fase. Four movements to the music of Steve Reich. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Beursschouwburg, Brussels, March 1982. With Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Michèle Anne De Mey.
[2] Elena’s Aria. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Royal Flemish Theatre, Brussels, October 1984.
[3] Stella. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Toneelschuur Haarlem, March 1990.
[4] Mozart/Concert Arias, un moto di gioia. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Avignon, July 1992..
[5] Toccata. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Amsterdam, June 1993.
[6] Verklärte Nacht. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Rosas. One of a three-part piece: Erwartung/ Verklärte Nacht/Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene, presented by La Monnaie Opera House, November 1995. The whole performance was mounted under the direction of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Klaus Michael Grüber.


It is by no means easy to trace out the main threads of a body of choreographic work that is still in the midst of its development. Nor is it made any easier when this artistic course appears at first sight to be fairly capricious, and seems to be informed by the urge, after a first thorough exploration, to leave once trodden paths for new horizons. We would therefore, by way of an introduction, like to clarify the premises underlying the following synthesis of the work of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
After a concise biographical sketch we shall give a basic chronological survey of De Keersmaeker’s productions from 1980 to 1997. In our discussion of each piece we shall attempt to give a short description of the most striking aspects. Whenever the names of dancers are mentioned it always refers to the original cast. Our descriptive characterisations also present us with several problems. They suggest that each production was completely finished at the time of its opening, whereas in fact De Keersmaeker constantly refined them during tours and for reruns. In this sense it is not only her whole body of work, but also each production that is a work in progress. It was however very difficult to do full justice to this highly individual dynamic within the scope of this lexicon.
We regularly use a particular aspect of one single production as the ouverture to a more general consideration of De Keersmaeker’s work or choreographic ‘handwriting’, of the context of the institution in which her work came into being, or of its reception by the critics and audiences. In other words we shuttle constantly back and forth between production-specific profiles and those oriented towards the works as a whole, and also between primarily artistic descriptions of the work and the working process, and more mundane information on finance and organisation. This dialectic approach seemed to us considerably easier to read than separate presentations of, for example, the works, choreographic aesthetics (‘aspects of form’), major threads in theme and content, or the context of the institution in which the work came into being. We have in any case foregone the pursuit of an all- embracing, let alone original interpretation of De Keersmaeker’s work. The distinction between description and interpretation is of course extremely relative, but within the conventions applying here we opted as far as possible for a descriptive approach and neutral, observational language.



We are naturally restricting our biography of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (b. 1960, Mechelen) to no more than the information most relevant to her work. As a child she trained in classical ballet at the Lilian Lambert Ecole de la Danse, de la Musique et des Arts du Spectacle in Brussels. In 1978 she was admitted as a student to the Mudra school. This ‘Centre for Higher Education and Research for Theatre Performers’ was founded and led by Maurice Béjart. This Frenchman was for more than twenty-five years the head of The Ballet of the Twentieth Century, based at the La Monnaie opera house in Brussels.
In October 1980 De Keersmaeker made her debut with Asch at the Nieuwe Workshop in Brussels; in early 1981 she left Brussels for New York, where she studied in the Dance Department of The Tish School of the Arts, which was linked to New York University. At that time New York was the capital of both modern and postmodern dance. One might say that after Asch, De Keersmaeker’s artistic biography has corresponded to the story of her successive choreographic creations (for a survey, see: ‘work/choreography’ on p. 45).
De Keersmaeker has now become a leading international choreographer. One can judge the extent of her worldwide reputation from the prizes she has been awarded. For instance, in 1989 she won a Bessie Award, the highest distinction for dance in the United States, for her piece Rosas danst Rosas. In the same year she received the Japan Dance Award for the best foreign dance production for Mikrokosmos. In 1991 Stella won the London Dance and Performance Award. Two years later, in 1993, De Keersmaeker was the special guest at the prestigious Holland Festival. In her native country she was awarded an honorary doctorate at the Free University of Brussels in 1994, and in 1996 was made a baroness for artistic merit.





Asch was Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s first production. It was performed only in the zuilenzaal at the Markten in Brussels, in 1980. Its full title is ‘Asch, the stunned amazement of a small, wilful girl and a big, injured pilot, a theatre project in which the performance of a dancer and an actor meet’. De Keersmaeker herself played the part of the girl and the pilot was played by Jean-Luc Breuer. In Asch there is thus some indication of characters, the ‘suspicion’ of a story, which is however nowhere made explicit. The pieces directly after Asch contain no form of narrative at all, but as from Elena’s Aria we were once again to see elements of story or character and their development. And even then it was always to be a restrained and contemplative theatricality, akin to the tradition of the German ‘Ausdruckstanz’ (M. Wigman, K. Jooss, P. Bausch).
The music for Asch was specially composed by Christian Copin and Serge Biran. The piece comprises four parts, which interact with each other in a well-considered way. With hindsight, it appears that several aspects of the piece point forward to the later, better-known work by De Keersmaeker: such as the importance of the organisation of space and the stage design, the emphasis on composing, and the combination of structures in a dramaturgical manner. Her dance language partly assimilates the idiom of classical ballet, but at the same time she is building her own, highly personal vocabulary. The third part of Asch, a solo by De Keersmaeker, was in a certain sense a premonition of the Violin Phase solo in Fase, and it was here particularly that one already found those ‘electric, alert movements’ that were to become so characteristic of the dance language in the first period of her work: the striking fists, the stamping feet, the head sunk in the neck, etc.


four movements to the music of Steve Reich

When she returned from New York, De Keersmaeker created Fase, four movements to the music of Steve Reich, which opened in the Beursschouwburg in Brussels in 1982. This production exploded onto the scene and is still considered to have been the starting point of the contemporary dance movement that developed in Flanders during the eighties. Fase was danced by De Keersmaeker herself and Michèle Anne De Mey, another ex-student of the Mudra school. This performance was revived with these two original dancers at the Théâtre Varia in Brussels in 1992. The musical basis of the choreography consisted of four minimalist works by the American composer Steve Reich, all written between 1966 and 1972: Piano Phase, Come Out, Violin Phase and Clapping Music. De Keersmaeker had already choreographed the dance solo for Violin Phase while in New York. It was created in collaboration with the members of the Steve Reich and Musicians ensemble, and was performed for the first time in 1981, during the Festival of the Early Years in Purchase.
Fase is a choreographic entity, and as such is more than simply the sum of its four parts. The choice of movements, the division of space, the lighting and other elements formed part of the deliberate construction of the complete ‘dramaturgy’ that encompassed all four parts. This pursuit of choreographic unity is also visible in the well thought-out use of several basic motifs: in the dancing in Piano Phase the straight line is alternated with the circle (the dancers turn on their own axis); in Come Out the dancers also trace circles, but here they are confined to the chairs they are sitting on; in the solo Violin Phase, the whole stage is used and is cleft by circular and diagonal lines; in Clapping Music the straight line again dominates. A characteristic of the dance movements used in the four parts is their division into short sequences that are incessantly repeated and which gradually change by way of small shifts. One might say that in compiling her vocabulary of movement, De Keersmaeker initially expressed herself in ‘short sentences’. Simple phrases were, in the course of repetition, varied and re-combined and thereby forged into longer units. In Fase, which is often called minimalist, the language is mainly abstract: there is no story, and the performers do not refer to any characters.
In Fase, De Keersmaeker marked out a major direction for her later work, one which was closely concerned with the specific relationship between music and dance. Even though her movement language was to evolve thoroughly over time, in creating a choreography De Keersmaeker was always to start from an in depth analysis of the musical score. In this process the first condition was that the dance should never illustrate the music. It was rather that the choreography served to articulate certain basic principles of composition used in a way that was independent and autonomous. More particularly, De Keersmaeker aspires to an analogous relationship between dance and music. She usually finds the foundations for this in the structure of the music, which is then taken up in the choreography. This transposition may primarily involve the use of the space, the temporal sequence of movements, or the movements themselves. In Violin Phase, for instance, a circular structure is closely linked to the fact that this composition is based on the rondo (use of space). The percussive use of the piano in Piano Phase is reflected choreographically in short and angular gestures (movements). And at a more general level each of the four parts of Fase keeps to the principle of gradual phasing that is also characteristic of Steve Reich’s minimalist music: movements which are originally carried out in perfect synchronisation, although apparently constantly repeated, are gradually shifted and offset (temporal composition).
This type of structural analogy between dance and music has become the trade mark of De Keersmaeker’s choreography. Especially in the productions whose titles even refer to the music used, the choreographic ‘handwriting’ (a term De Keersmaeker often uses in interviews and conversations) enters into a literally structural dialogue with the musical score.


Rosas danst Rosas

1983 saw Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s international breakthrough with the piece called Rosas danst Rosas. This production opened at the Kaaitheater Festival in Brussels and at the same time signalled the official inauguration of the Rosas company. The four female dancers who originally formed Rosas were all ex-students of Mudra: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Michèle Anne De Mey were joined by Fumiyo Ikeda and Adriana Borriello. The music for Rosas danst Rosas, composed by Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch, came into being in parallel with the choreography. The performance is composed of five parts, and both the dance and the music are based on repetitive, minimalist principles.
In Rosas danst Rosas, which has in the meantime been filmed under the same title, two sorts of movement are interwoven with each other. On the one hand there are abstract movements that are hard to label, and on the other, more concrete, recognisable gestures are also used: running the hand through the hair, pulling a blouse straight, a sudden turn of the head, etc. These gestures have a direct significance because they refer to everyday movements. It seems as if minor occurrences during the working process have crept into the performance as literal quotations. But it is not only by way of the movements that the performance’s illusory closeness (‘it’s only dance’) is constantly breaking open towards a more mundane reality. For instance, in the intermezzo between the first and second parts, the dancers themselves put out chairs and shoes, smooth their clothes, and clearly take the time to get their breath back. And again, at the end of the fourth, physically very demanding part, the dancers openly show their fatigue: they stand there audibly panting and visibly sweating on stage.
These short moments show, as it were, the physical ‘reverse side’ of dancing as an art of the body. One will not see this in classical ballet performances; even performances of modern choreographies usually involve the concealment of effort and fatigue. By contrast, in De Keersmaeker’s work, also after Rosas danst Rosas, there is often a denial of the illusion that a dance performance shows a reality totally different from that of everyday physical life. It can be seen, for example, that De Keersmaeker never aspires towards supremely perfect performances of her choreographic works: she allows her dancers to carry out simultaneous movements with less than absolute perfection. For this reason performances by Rosas always have a particular expressiveness and ‘humanity’.
The first part of Rosas danst Rosas is set on the floor and in silence. In rolling movements, and with intermediate steps, the four dancers lying on the stage build up one great diagonal movement from upstage right to downstage left, accompanied by the purely ‘human’ music of panting, of arms tapping against the floor, the sound of rolling, etc. The second movement takes place in small rows of diagonally positioned chairs (compare to Come Out in Fase). The movements consist of quick, hard, energetic gestures responding to the percussive music with its metallic sounding beats. The third part is, like the first, a play between straight lines and diagonals which is accentuated by the corridors of light in which they move. The chance or deliberate baring of one shoulder (the ritual of seduction?) is one of the most striking concrete gestures in this section. The fourth section is a group dance and moves with a marked crescendo to the limits of physical exhaustion; diagonals, straight lines and circles alternate. The closing section is a very short coda consisting only of genuine, concrete gestures linked to the dancers’ exhaustion. There is still a great deal of dancing by the four women in unison throughout the piece, but even so all possible variations on the number four are tried out. For example, three dancers make the same movement, while the fourth goes counter to it; or they follow a course two by two, or one plus one plus two, or one plus two plus one, and so on. In Rosas danst Rosas several areas of tension also arose for the first time which were to become characteristic of the whole of De Keersmaeker’s later work. In particular there is the contrast between rational (‘premeditated’) structures and meaningful emotions, the dialectic between aggression and tenderness, or the interaction between uniformity (of clothing or movements) and individuality (the separate accentuation of their identical clothing by means of the dancer’s varying physiques, or the individual accents in the execution of movements in unison).


Elena’s Aria

With Elena’s Aria, created in 1984, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker astonished both critics and audiences in more ways than one. The success achieved by Rosas danst Rosas signified a double challenge for the following production. Not only did account have to be taken of the specific questions asked by each new project, but there was also the essential choice between carrying on down the successful road already taken, or to continue to question her own artistic potential. Susan Sontag once wrote that every artist that takes themselves seriously will sooner or later be faced with the desire to break off contact with their public. Since those who want to develop their own potential beyond the boundaries of what is already known will not opt for a repetition of the success already achieved. In this respect Elena’s Aria is a crucial piece in De Keersmaeker’s choreographic career. Here she broke quite radically from elements that had already been tested for their aesthetic power. For instance, there is no ‘beat’ or ‘drive’ in this production’s music; the intensity of the work in ensemble and in unison is also put very much into perspective. New material makes an appearance too: such as texts (by Leo Tolstoy, Botho Strauss & Bertolt Brecht) and film footage (of blocks of flats being blown up). In addition to De Keersmaeker, Michèle Anne De Mey, and Fumiyo Ikeda, also seen in Rosas danst Rosas, Nadine Ganase and Roxane Huilmand, performed in this production.
Elena’s Aria refers to the composition of the same name by Giacomo Verdi; in this performance a recording by Montserrat Caballé is used. The sound is only a background presence, and, to be precise, apart from several aria’s by Caruso, it also includes a speech by Fidel Castro. The performance as a whole is almost symphonic in its composition. In addition to this, Elena’s Aria is also characterised by its frequent quiet moments and silences, which emphasises the duration of the performance and the passing of time. There are two leitmotivs in the movements used. On the one hand there is the pursuit, alternating with running away, by the five dancers on a row of chairs upstage. On the other hand there is the attempt, in their tucked up tight skirts, to run round the chalk circle in the middle of the stage. These two motifs are repeated many times, with minor variations. Both refer to children’s games. At the end of this long, slow, subdued Elena’s Aria a coda is again introduced, with music by Mozart: the five dancer-performers sit in a row on chairs in front of the curtain, which is already closed, and carry out a series of concrete movements in unison. This epilogue clearly refers to things achieved in Rosas danst Rosas.
Elena’s Aria was dominated by a melancholy undertone. The feelings expressed by this performance are located in the sphere of pain and solitude, suffering as a result of absence and the longing for an unattainable love. This emotional tension is reinforced even more by the restrained ‘theatricality’ with which some movements are carried out, such as the running round the chalk circle with their skirts tucked up. However, at no time does the piece turn fully towards direct expressiveness. The emotions mentioned infuse the entire piece with moods, that are never expressed or represented clearly and openly. This reticence towards any form of immediacy, especially emotionally, is also characteristic of De Keersmaeker’s later productions, and we may venture to call it one of the main features of her work. With regard to this she once said, ‘In Pina Bausch’ work, that sort of thing is expressed in a very simple way, while at the same time very complex, but I have a certain hesitation about saying things that way.’


What the critics thought

Despite this, the reviews of Elena’s Aria in the newspapers and magazines of the time frequently referred to Pina Bausch. At the same time, the receptive critics found themselves faced with a problem caused by the break from the minimalism of Fase and Rosas danst Rosas. Whereas De Keersmaeker’s work was at first described using terms like ‘repetitiveness’ and ‘structure’, completely new expressions now had to be formed. But there was a more general problem at issue here. This is because, also after Elena’s Aria, the critics saw De Keersmaeker’s work as oscillating between rationality and emotion, formalism and expressiveness, with a great emphasis on structure and geometry on the one hand, and on meaning and emotion on the other. It was put in a way that illustrated the matter very well (in Knack, 28 March 1990): ‘In the ten years that De Keersmaeker has been active as a choreographer, her work has continually swung back and forth between extremes of purely abstract, geometric design and expressive dance theatre and she has entered into every possible alliance between apparently extreme artistic forms.’
Another categorisation, which chiefly assumed importance in Dutch-language criticism in the second half of the eighties, was the contrast between ‘dance-oriented’ and ‘theatrical’. De Keersmaeker’s work was said to display a constant pendulum movement in this respect too. Some performances were more ‘dance-oriented’ (or ‘formalist’, ‘highly structured’, etc.) while others were mainly ‘theatrical’ (or ‘emotionally charged’, ‘expressive’, etc.). In other words, the critics employ dichotomies that are never able unequivocally to capture De Keersmaeker’s development in the performing arts. The apparently hybrid nature of her course increased when she started to explore other stage genres such as theatre and opera. In order to do justice to the specific nature of De Keersmaeker’s complete works, some critics point out the need for an approach based less on contrasts. For instance, with regard to Ottone, Ottone, Hildegard De Vuyst commented that the piece ‘demands a new discourse. Reference is made to a new genre, dance-opera ... De Keersmaeker shakes the traditional barriers between genres (in this case the ones that separate theatre, dance and opera) and the associated expectations.’ The shock-effect she still achieves in this way, probably unwittingly, can be read in the headline of a review, ‘No, Ottone, Ottone is not a ballet. It is absurd theatre’ (in Etcetera 24, 1988). Connected to this is the pressing problem of specialisation among critics. The differentiation between dance, theatre, music and opera criticism hinders subtle distinctions in the reception of a body of work occupying several fields at the same time, often in one and the same performance. In recent years an increasing difference in appreciation of De Keersmaeker’s work has become apparent between Flanders and the Netherlands. Articles in Flemish newspapers and magazines usually attempt to locate recent performances against the background of the entirety of her work. This explains the emphasis on lines of development and, together with this, differences with earlier productions. These differences are usually positively evaluated in terms, on the one hand, of innovation and, on the other, of an exploratory search for a personal link to the classical language of dance. In addition to this it is striking that Flemish critics consider De Keersmaeker’s work as setting a measure, even a norm. They make numerous references to it in their reviews of productions by other choreographers and in the interpretation of newcomers’ productions. Partly for this reason, one might say that in Flanders, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s work has been so canonised that it functions as a standard for contemporary dance. By contrast, Dutch critics tend to judge each new De Keersmaeker production as an independent creation, separate from the background of an individual body of work and an essentially personal choreographic evolution. This attitude has occasionally resulted in negatively slanted reviews, such as those for Amor Constante más allá de la muerte and Woud. It is not insignificant that, with figures such as Hans van Manen and institutions like the Nederlands Danstheater, the Netherlands have for some time been familiar with forms of dance until recently unknown in Flanders. This includes the creative prolongation of the classical tradition, something which Flemish dance critics are now able to appreciate precisely because of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.



In 1986 De Keersmaeker presented us with Bartók/Aantekeningen. It was her first piece to be based on a score by one of the great masters of modern classical music. Bela Bartók’s Fourth String Quartet provided the basis for the entire production, both structurally and emotionally. The composition consists of five parts whose arrangement one might define thus: A B C B’ A’, as if the mid-section C were enclosed by a large circle (A A’) and a smaller one (B B’). The performance adopts this structure too, but in addition to the choreography based on Bartók’s music, there are also De Keersmaeker’s aantekeningen (annotations). They comprise of movements carried out in silence, additions in the form of text (from Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade and Georg Büchner’s Lenz), fragments of film of children playing, car crashes and miscellaneous sound material (Bulgarian folk singing, speeches by Lenin, Russian revolutionary songs, etc.). These heterogeneous elements are bound together by an ingenious structure so that the performance by no means appears as an assembly of separate fragments. The four dancers act like naughty little girls; while at the same time there is an interplay as between chamber musicians in a string quartet. The parts are played by Fumiyo Ikeda, Nadine Ganase, Roxane Huilmand and, in alternation, Johanne Saunier and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. So, in this piece the choreographer takes a step back from her own work for the first time, enabling her to view it from the outside. The emotions that dominate the performance fluctuate between dissonance (also a major theme in Bartók’s music) and aggression on the one hand and melancholy and purity on the other. And yet it comes across as significantly less heavy than Elena’s Aria, mainly because the whole piece is partly informed by a girlish humour and sensuality.


Verkommenes Ufer/Medeamaterial/ Landschaft mit Argonauten

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker gradually developed from a choreographer in the strictest sense of the word into a versatile stage artist, though choreography has always remained the proverbial hard core of her work. Her interest in theatre and opera is the best evidence of her ambition to explore ‘non-dance-based’ genres. In 1987 she directed her first, and for the time being, her only written play, Verkommenes Ufer/Medeamaterial/Landschaft mit Argonauten. It was not by chance that she chose a three-part play by the German playwright Heiner Müller. After all, Müller’s plays are written in an almost tangibly material language giving a very physical impression. What’s more, the theme of man woman betrayal in the Medea story – set in this play in a political context of colonisation and oppression – is closely linked to a world De Keersmaeker preferred to give shape to in the first period of her work.
Müller’s play was already part of her documentation during her work on Bartók/Aantekeningen. It is performed in the original German version so as to retain the material aspect of Müller’s language in all its force. In the treatment of the text the accent is put on musicality. The performance does not attempt to illustrate or interpret the words; the dramaturgy is intended rather to bring the play face to face with another reality – danced or acted. In line with this choice a sort of zero level of ‘presence’ is aimed for in the appearance of the actors on the stage. Herman Sorgeloos’ set design also plays an important part. The acting space comprises a very long narrow strip: Jason and Medea often sit a long way from each other, with the wet-nurse acting as a piece of no man’s land between them. In this production, just as in Elena’s Aria, resources from other disciplines are employed in a highly specific way: the textual material is supplemented by sequences of movement, fragments of film and all manner of audio elements. The cast consisted of three actor-performers. The part of Medea was played by the American dancer Kitty Kortes Lynch, Jason by Johan Leysen and the wet-nurse by André Verbist.


(Mikrokosmos – Monument/Selbstporträt mit Reich und Riley (und Chopin ist auch dabei)/Im zart fliessender Bewegung – Quatuor nr. 4)

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker made this production for the opening of the 1987 Kaaitheater season. This three-part work, whose long title is usually abbreviated to Mikrokosmos, was her first production in which three pieces, not originally conceived to form a whole, were compiled to form a full performance (De Keersmaeker used the same method later for Kinok and Woud). A number of changes in form enabled the three parts to be contained in the framework of a homogeneous dramaturgy, and in this way they offer a new interpretation of the concept of an ‘evening of dance’. Apart from the last tour of Fase, this was also the first time in De Keersmaeker’s work that the musicians performed live on stage. Since the second part of this performance consists of a three-part piano duo by György Ligeti (performed live by Walter Hus and Stefan Poelmans), which is not accompanied by dancing, one might almost call Mikrokosmos a danced concert.
In the first part of the original Mikrokosmos, Johanne Saunier and Jean-Luc Ducourt (the first male dancer in De Keersmaeker’s work) dance seven short pieces for two pianos, once again by Bartók. In the form of a miniature. This pas de deux contains an alternation of aggression and tenderness, advances and rejection, in rapid succession. The two pianists, on a raised platform, then play their three-part Ligeti piece, after which the Dutch Mondriaan Quartet plays Bartók’s Fourth String Quartet as the accompaniment to the dance sections from Bartók/Aantekeningen. This ‘Bartók-without-annotations’ was performed by Nadine Ganase, Fumiyo Ikeda, Roxane Huilmand and Johanne Saunier. Wolfgang Kolb was also to film the two dance sections from Mikrokosmos under the title Hoppla! in 1989. The location for this film was the reading room of Henry Van de Velde’s Book Tower in Ghent.
The fact that Mikrokosmos comes across as a unified piece has a lot to do with what may even be the actual ‘subject’ of the production: complicity – visible to the audience in the numerous furtive glances, giggles and so on – amongst the dancers and the musicians and between these two groups of performers. This is the arch that spans the entire performance, into which sneak, once again, only ‘narrative’ elements: in the pas de deux confrontation with the man in Mikrokosmos, the quasi-characters of ‘the girls’ from Bartók’s Quatuor become one single woman. In fact in the first part something resembling a story crystallises out, dealing with the relationship of an adult couple. For that matter, as will soon become apparent, the girl/woman duality also crops up in later pieces by De Keersmaeker (cf. the section on Stella). The stage design also plays a crucial part in the creation of a unifying theatrical setting. For this production Herman Sorgeloos, who had by then more or less become Rosas’ full-time designer and photographer, designed a space bounded by sansevierias. One might view it as a sort of hall ready for a party where the musicians (the piano duo and the string quartet) take their place on the stage while the floor is kept free for the dancers.


Ottone, Ottone

After turning to the theatre (cf. the Medea production), Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker ventured into the world of opera. Ottone, Ottone opened in 1988 and was De Keersmaeker’s first ‘large-scale’ project: based on Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s interpretation of Claudio Monteverdi’s opera L’Incoronazione di Poppea, it was performed by a cast of 16. The transformation of the original libretto and score into a sort of contemporary or, if you like, postmodern ‘opera-ballet’, resulted in an adaptation that was in places exceptionally moving. The basic story was as it were, obscured by a duplication, and on occasion a triplication, of the characters, and by the addition of new characters, who apart from this enter into highly diverse relationships with each other (also in psychological terms). The piece portrays with an uncommon hardness the microcosm of life in Nero’s Roman court, accentuated even more in the reworking for the second tour in spring 1989. In this miniature society sincere feelings are constantly undermined by calculation and the misuse of power. Just like De Keersmaeker’s previously staged play by Heiner Müller, Ottone, Ottone revolves round the theme of betrayal between man and woman in a context pervaded by political concerns.
Ottone, Ottone is literally a very colourful spectacular with a bitter undertone. The video film-maker Walter Verdin made an extremely intriguing film adaptation in two parts (1991), which, in its own right, can be interpreted as a comment on De Keersmaeker’s directing. The first part of the film is characterised by extreme cutting: the dance performance is edited into a tangle of fragments with multiple changes of character, which makes it more difficult to follow the ‘story’. In the second part it was chosen to allow a coherent narrative to unfold in greater movements/longer scenes. From a choreographic point of view, Ottone, Ottone contains a huge abundance of new material, partly as a result of the method used in the working process. Because of the size of the group, in addition to De Keersmaeker’s direct choreographic work, ‘tasks’ were often used as a way of working. Dancers made separate variations on the material (reversals, combinations, etc.) or thought up new sequences of movement, while De Keersmaeker, together with the other dancers, looked at the material they had created. In her turn she added her own sequences to these autonomous contributions from the dancers; and of course she was also responsible for the ultimate composition, forging together into one great whole the varied pieces of the puzzle assembled by the group.



Outwardly, Stella (1990) seems like a return to the work that developed from Bartók/Aantekeningen: a piece for five women whose personalities largely determine the content and intensity of the performance. As far as the music is concerned, De Keersmaeker once more chose the work of the contemporary Hungarian composer György Ligeti, which was also a major presence in Mikrokosmos. Both his Etudes pour piano and his Poème symphonique pour cents metronomes, an ironical piece reminiscent of the humour of Marcel Duchamp, were integrated into this performance. Apart from that, various literary sources fill the production. The title refers on the one hand to Goethe’s play of the same name, and on the other to the character in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcare named desire. Fragments from these two plays, transformed into monologues, together with ‘quotations’ from Kurosawa’s film Rashomon, provide the textual material for this piece. The production came about with the close collaboration of the five dancers: Fumiyo Ikeda, Johanne Saunier, Nathalie Million, Carlotta Sagna and Marion Lévy. Jean-Luc Ducourt assisted for the more theatrical parts – he was to be De Keersmaeker’s assistant for some time after Ottone, Ottone.
The ‘structural’ interaction between dance and music mentioned previously is very clear to see in the parts of Stella conceived round Ligeti’s music. In the light of Ligeti’s piano compositions, De Keersmaeker developed explicit forms of contrapuntal choreographic writing: her earlier unison writing became increasingly ‘disconnected’ and transformed into a polyphonic complexity with many parts. There are still circles – sometimes the dancers describe them in their movements – and straight lines (see Fase), but the course followed by the dancers is, as it were, much more ‘accidental’. The floor also takes up a more prominent position in the choreography, a development that was to continue in the work after Stella. The dancers fall and roll, or drag up small square rostra (which were to reappear in Achterland) on which they perform short dance sequences. These intermezzi often included movements limited to one single part of the body: a dance for the feet, a dance for the hands, etc. (compare the coda in Elena’s Aria). The seated dancers even executed one series of movements solely using their feet; the same movements were then repeated by the hands. Carlotta Sagna even had a solo that we might label ‘a choreography for the face’.
Considered as a whole, what is most striking in Stella – just as it was in Ottone, Ottone and, years previously, in Elena’s Aria is its well thought-out and even reflective theatricality. There are the beginnings of fragmented storylines, and even snatches of almost-characters. The theatrical action is marked by equivocality and ambiguity. On the one hand the five dancers’ odd personalities tinge the performance most essentially, while on the other they are also actresses playing a part, though ‘each in her own way’. Individuality and part-playing form an inextricable knot, so that after some time it is no longer clear whether the actions shown are to be attributed to the person or to the character they are playing. This ambivalence is continually reinforced by the ‘typically female’ character of the movements and gestures performed. Stella can be read as a catalogue of what is currently typified as female in our culture: the woman as a hysteric (a touchy, hyper-sensitive being), the woman as a highly inflammable ‘vessel full of contradictory emotions’, the woman as a dreamy romantic, the woman as a neurotic whose desires are continuously shifting, etc.


Working Method

In the process of working on Stella, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker continued down the road she had entered with Ottone, Ottone. She was also to keep up this exploration in later productions, so that we may now venture to speak of a ‘De Keersmaeker Method’. We find a short but probing visual outline of it in the documentary called Het maken van Mozart/Concert Aria’s (The Making of Mozart/Concert Arias) (1992), compiled by Ana Torfs and Jurgen Persijn for the Ziggurat arts programme on BRT2. The most characteristic aspect of the working method De Keersmaeker has gradually developed is her treatment of the dancers or performers as equal partners in the creative process. For this reason, work on a new production usually begins, on the one hand, with her handing over miscellaneous background information and documentation, and on the other with a thorough analysis of the music to be used. De Keersmaeker studies the structure of every score together with the dancers: melodic development, harmony, thematic motifs, and such like are all discussed in depth. In addition to this they also consider any information that may be relevant derived from the socio-cultural or political context in which the music or textual material originated.

De Keersmaeker also takes her dancers seriously choreographically. She supplies certain basic movements and sequences (‘phrases’) herself, but then asks the dancers to transpose and make variations on them. As well as this, she also provokes new movements into being by confronting her people with carefully selected ‘stimuli’. These may be in the form of photos or other visual material. During the work on Stella, for instance, she came up with pictures of statues. ‘They were all spread out on the floor. In half an hour we all had to choose our ten favourite statues and then act them out one after the other,’ as Fumiyo Ikeda told in an interview. In the preparations for Verklärte Nacht they started, among other things, from sculptures by Rodin, while for Woud movements were generated on the basis of a book of exercises for pregnant women. Another method De Keersmaeker often uses to stimulate her dancers’ creativity is to give them verbal tasks. These usually take the form of simple statements, like ‘imagine you are showing someone the door’ or ‘imagine you have to take leave of someone you love’. It is not only chance and imagination that are given an opportunity by this and similar working methods. Of no lesser interest to De Keersmaeker is the production of material that is literally personal, movements that fit the particular body of a dancer and accentuate their individuality.
In the course of the working process, movements once found are tested for their tonal or expressive power by means of more specific tasks. For instance, De Keersmaeker will ask the dancers to reverse a sequence of movements (to dance it back to front), to make variations on it, to combine it with other phrases, etc., and this in some cases set to a particular musical excerpt. Material generated individually or in duo or trio is also constantly exchanged: A and B (or A and B together) teach what they have contributed to C and D, or to the whole group. In this situation it is once more De Keersmaeker’s role to discover convincing (‘suitable’) combinations of specific movements and the dancers’ individual bodies. So in her choreographic work De Keersmaeker is continuously attempting to discover each dancer’s individual range of movement and to activate it to go further. Her work is based on the premise, as simple as it is far reaching, that each individual has their own characteristic physical ‘tonality’, an unconscious bodily blueprint the choreographer has to both explore and respect.
To Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, choreography is synonymous with giving tasks and pointers (‘directing’), and particularly with, on the one hand, the patient and meticulous observation of movements, and on the other, selection and assembly. During the working process she spends most of the time watching material the dancers have created, both live and on videotape. A great many movements fall away in the course of time, while others are polished up or more tautly articulated by means of targeted commentary. The weeks just before an opening night are most especially a time of selection and assembly. More or less final, well-considered choices are made from the material available, partly in relation to the planned length of the performance. The sentences and paragraphs of movement retained still need overall arrangement, a temporal structure in terms of ‘first this, then that’. This is also primarily a question of watching: one might say it is De Keersmaeker’s eyes that embody the secret ingredient that makes her choreography so powerful.



1990 saw the opening of Stella, but also of Achterland. After this production, almost every new piece by De Keersmaeker was to be performed with live musicians on stage. This enabled her to realise a dream she had had since the beginning: an active integration of dancers and musicians, of dance and music, a search for ways of uniting these two arts in the creation itself. Achterland is linked at several levels with the previous production, Stella, by, among other things, the dance material and the division of the stage by small platforms (now also emphasised by the lighting, which highlighted the mini-stages on the main stage by means of squared-off areas of light). The most conspicuous link between the two pieces was made by the reuse of Ligeti’s piano etudes, performed live by Rolf Hind. In addition to this, in this piece De Keersmaeker used several violin sonatas by the Belgian composer and violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. What all this music has in common is the exceptional virtuosity of its composition: only a few very talented musicians are able to play it.
For the first time in her work De Keersmaeker literally puts the two solo musicians on the stage; they are not just producers of sound but are also involved in the dance and theatrical activity, a feature which later performances were to extend. In her choreography, De Keersmaeker sought movements that translated the musical virtuosity. The dancing is carried out at great speed, which confirms the importance of the floor already present in Stella (lots of falling and rolling movements, taking the spiral form as their starting point). The choreography for particular bodily parts and for the hands also returns and, purely in terms of quantity, shift closer to the heart of the performance. The work in unison is even more ‘disconnected’, and the polyphony accentuated. Other references to Stella are more in the way of details, such as running in circles and slumping in chairs. For that matter it is another characteristic of De Keersmaeker’s work that material from previous pieces is constantly quoted in new ones. This may point to the realisation that the importance of the well known urge for originality is only relative. However, also at issue is the working process just described, which is informed by the deepest possible investigation of the movements that have now been generated.


Men / Women

In Achterland, which the maker herself filmed in 1994, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker once more gave evidence of her interest in the difference between men and women. This interest particularly concerns both the individual and the polymorphic, both the typical and the pluralistic aspects of what is ‘female’.
What strikes one in Achterland is the initial absence of any form of interaction between the male and female dancers. The two groups perform separately, and when they do find themselves on stage together, they seem to expressly ignore each other. It is only in the third section that the male and female dancers acknowledge each other’s presence by means of glances, the adoption of the others’ movements and such like – until in the end they also alternately chase each other off the stage. There are other productions in which De Keersmaeker very often plays on the tension brought about by the combination of men and women, both on and off the stage.
A particularly striking moment in Achterland is the scene in which Vincent Dunoyer attempts to imitate the seductive steps Nathalie Million had danced earlier in the performance. With his swaying hips and his shaking, the coquettishly tripping Dunoyer appears very comical. At the same time he illustrates in this way one of the major starting points of De Keersmaeker’s choreographic language: that there are ‘male’ and ‘female’ movements. The issue is not of course a biological or natural difference in the range of movements, but one of the divergent socio-cultural modelling or socialisation of the male and female bodies in our society. Different bodily attitudes and physical gestures are expected from women than from men. These divergent, ‘sexualised’ expectations mould the human body from an early age, including those of dancers. De Keersmaeker does not erase the results of this difference in the moulding of the human body, and this is a major difference from classical ballet and other dance forms. She attempts, rather, to incorporate them in a productive way into the working process and into her choreography. This option was probably partially prompted by the previously mentioned search for ‘suitable’ movements.
Just like Pina Bausch, in her pieces De Keersmaeker often expressly alludes to the stereotypes of men and women circulating in our culture (see the section on Stella). These references not only concern the differences between men and women’s ‘movement languages’, but also, for example, the prevailing, sex-specific dress codes. For instance, the female dancers in Achterland wear, among other things, tight suits and high heels. The graciousness and poise this ‘typical businesswoman’s’ clothing suggests is in sharp contrast to the exuberant-looking rolling and falling movements these dancers carry out. One can say that this sort of ironic re-use of existing sexual roles is characteristic of De Keersmaeker’s work. Aggressive criticism is foreign to her, which is the reason why in interviews and conversations she has frequently explicitly rejected the over-eager characterisation of her work in stridently feminist terms.
The image of woman De Keersmaeker establishes in her pieces is far from unambiguous. On the contrary, it is many-faceted and layered: the female dancer-performers assume several guises in one and the same piece. In this way, De Keersmaeker seems to be suggesting that there is no such thing as a single female identity, only an open and plural series of ‘female roles’, which are of course moulded by society. These are sometimes penetratingly and often playfully portrayed, especially in Stella and Achterland. However, there is one single distinction that returns again and again in her work: the difference between girl and woman. In quite a few pieces the dancers behave mischievously and childishly, or coquettishly and youthfully (the girlish side), then seductively or vampishly, or, by contrast, silent and sorrowful or withdrawn and sentimental (the adult woman side).



Erts, a first version of which was shown in 1992, in a certain sense plays a part in De Keersmaeker’s work analogous to that of Elena’s Aria, to which we linked Susan Sontag’s statement regarding the possible necessity of ‘breaking the dialogue with the audience’. Erts is another piece that is harder to interpret in the range of De Keersmaeker’s work, which is partly responsible for the ambiguous reception it received from both the critics and the public. This production has a disparate, fragmented composition; the form is less simple than that of Achterland for example, and the basic structure less visible.
The disparateness of Erts is expressed in the first place by its division of the acting area: an open expanse with two side-stages, a separate platform for the musicians, and a strip with a projection screen at the rear. Sometimes the central area simply remained empty, and one watched film images of Nathalie Million and Vincent Dunoyer. They played scenes from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcare named desire on screen, but did not appear as dancers in the performance. Williams’ play had been used before, in Stella. So we see once again how De Keersmaeker ‘drags’ material from one production to another within her own body of work. Construction is continued on the foundations built in a previous project.
In terms of music, Erts is based on widely divergent sources. The Arditti String Quartet performs Beethoven’s Grosse Füge, Anton Webern’s Fünf Sätze für Streichkwartet, and Alfred Schnittke’s Quatuor 2 live. In addition to this the audience hears The Velvet Underground’s I’m waiting for my man. When she reworked this piece, De Keersmaeker added more rock music: again by The Velvet Underground (Sunday Morning and All tomorrow’s parties). On top of this, Luciano Berio’s music was also given a place in the latest version, with Sequenza V for trombone and Sequenza III for voice, sung live by the dancer Johanne Saunier.
As far as movement is concerned in Erts, we mainly see continued work on the spiral form, crawling on hands and knees (by Marion Lévy), and hopping with the arms stretched out sideways. The choreography for Beethoven’s Grosse Füge is once more a highly contrapuntally written piece in which male and female performers enter into confrontation with the same material, each in their own way. De Keersmaeker borrows more movements from the language of classical ballet than in her earlier work. However, in its overall choreographic structure, Erts differs from ballet, which is based on symmetry. The diversity of the multidisciplinary material – music, text, film, song, dance – results in a capricious composition run through with dissonance.


The organisational context

Erts was the first production Rosas performed in its capacity as resident company at La Monnaie, the Royal Opera House. This structural collaboration, which commenced in 1st January 1992, naturally gave De Keersmaeker’s company more elbow room. In a certain sense, this ‘residence contract’ was also the peak of Rosas organisational history, which at times had been marked by great uncertainty.
De Keersmaeker did her first productions in the framework of the Schaamte organisation, which had been founded in 1978 by Hugo De Greef, who also initiated the Kaaitheater Festival. Schaamte offered financial and organisational backing to such dramatic artists as Josse De Pauw and Pat Van Hemelrijck (both formerly in Radeis), Erik De Volder, Jan Lauwers and, of course, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. The management of this association was largely in the hands of the artists themselves: they purchased premises in Brussels together, where they set up rehearsal rooms and where their collective technical, administrative and supervisory services were housed. Although they operated individual accounts, there was a powerful economic solidarity amongst the artists: income from one artist’s tour was used to temporarily finance another’s new production. At the same time, Schaamte, which in 1988 was absorbed into Kaaitheater, now a production company, was building up a network of international contacts accessible to all its members.
In 1984, one year after the creation of Rosas danst Rosas, Rosas itself received its first modest subsidy of 1.5 million bef from the Flemish authorities. Apart from occasional travel expenses, this was the first time this body had made money available for contemporary dance. In fact it was not until 1993 that the new performing arts act provided for an overall legislative arrangement for ‘non-ballet dance’ (the subsidies for the Royal Ballet of Flanders were an automatic part of the Flemish annual budget).
In 1985 and 1986 Rosas, which was by now internationally renowned, was granted 2 million bef, and this was doubled in 1987. In 1989 Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker rang the alarm bell: the subsidy planned for that year, 5.1 million bef, would be far too little. There were rumours that De Keersmaeker would take her company abroad. True or not, Rosas’ subsidy increased substantially the following year. It received 13 million bef, and this was repeated in 1991 and 1992. In 1993 there was a slight increase to 14 million bef and in 1994 a much greater increase to almost 23 million bef. In the last implementation of the performing arts act in 1996, the Flemish Minister of Culture, on the advice of the Dance Advisory Board, decided to offer Rosas an annual subsidy of 40 million bef, as a ‘top-ranking company’, for the period of four years as laid down in the act.
Subsidies are of course not Rosas’ only source of income. On that basis, for example, Rosas would never have been able to make Ottone, Ottone. The creation of that production was only made possible by the financial contribution of co-producers at home and abroad such as the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, the International Festival at Aix-en-Provence, and even La Monnaie itself. Since Rosas had been associated with the latter institution, the company had also been able to count on ‘internal’ finance from the Belgian federal opera house. In addition to this, the system of co-production has remained a constant and major source of funds. The cost of touring, which can often be very high, was also partly covered by travel grants from the Flemish government. And last but not least, Rosas also earned a relatively high percentage of its income from performing. This is largely due to exemplary management by its business manager Guy Gypens and general director Kees Eijrond.
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of her debut in De Markten in Brussels, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker stated at a press conference in 1990 that in future she also wanted to revive earlier productions. Rosas was to develop into a repertory company, which would only be possible with an extensive group of dancers. At that time she also expressed her resolution to ‘work increasingly with live music’. Looking back, we can see that both wishes have been fulfilled. The great increase in financial resources has made it possible, during the nineties, to re-run earlier or more recent pieces with new casts. One might indeed wonder why plays of great quality are constantly re-used in a repertoire while this hardly ever happens with choreographic creations. The ‘transience’ and ‘unwritability’ of dance undoubtedly plays a part in this. Since the early nineties De Keersmaeker has pursued a deliberate policy of putting her own work in the repertoire: Rosas danst Rosas and Mikrokosmos, for example, started their second career on international stages. The importance of this ‘memory work’ is beyond dispute, especially for new generations of dance lovers. And as far as live musicians are concerned, the collaboration with La Monnaie entered into in 1992 has made it easier to achieve the use of live musicians that De Keersmaeker wanted.


Mozart/Concert Aria’s. Un moto di gioia

The fact that the collaboration with La Monnaie opened up new possibilities for Rosas, particularly in the area of interaction between music and dance, is apparent in Mozart/Concert Aria’s. Un moto di gioia. This very much ‘dance-oriented’ performance opened in mid-1992 at the Festival of Avignon. Philip Herreweghe’s musical ensemble was also sitting at the rear of the stage when it was first performed in the Palais des Papes; for later performances Rosas worked with Jos van Immerseel and his group Anima Eterna, and other arrangements sometimes had to be found, depending on the location. The three singers who perform the Mozart arias stand amongst the dancers and are sometimes involved in the dancing. For example, they dance a few steps, or dancers whirl around them, and so forth. To certain arias there is no dancing, or else just a simple movement is repeated, so that the attention is focused fully on the music.
The floor, which is once more a design by Herman Sorgeloos, consists of a construction in parquet. It takes the form of a circle with two centres, creating a sort of irregular ellipse. The ellipse and the spiral are once more the basic ingredients of the choreographic structure too. The frequently recurring classical patterns are continually disrupted by dissonant, asymmetric elements. Fitful, animal movements repeatedly break into the harmonious looking references to the language of ballet. This dissonant material was created during the working process by, among other things, the method of contact improvisation.
Like Ottone, Ottone, Mozart/Concert Aria’s is a very colourfully decorated show; the costumes were designed by Rudi Sabounghi, whose name crops up in later productions too. Conversely, the two productions are a world apart when it comes to tone and basic mood. In the later piece, De Keersmaeker stages a much more optimistic ‘story’ about boys and girls, men and women, maids and servants. Love’s poor manners, the boys’ tough guy acts and the girls’ demand for attention, is this time larded with joy and exuberance. Men and women dance love duets together, though each sex retains its own world and movements. Everything considered, this is a light piece with plenty of humour, taking an intelligent and experienced look at the relations and misunderstandings between men and women.



In 1993 Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker was the special guest at the Holland Festival. On this occasion she gave the first performance of a smaller performance first entitled Bach/Creatie 1993, which later became Toccata. Several versions of this piece have in the meantime come into being, danced in various combinations by five performers. One of them is always a man.
For the first time since Bartók/Aantekeningen, De Keersmaeker herself dances once again: the movements ‘as they emerge from one’s own body’ are here again fused with the performers’ dance contributions. The basis of the choreography is five pieces by J.S. Bach: Toccata in e-flat, Fantasy and fugue in a-flat, Französische Suite V in G-sharp, Sonata nach der Violinsonate in a-flat, d-flat, and Nur komm’ der Heiden Heiland. Bach’s music was not originally intended for dancing to. As always in his music, the scores used reveal Bach to have been a mathematician of genius. Both the mathematical structures and his references to the harmony of the cosmic order have their effect on the patterns of movement De Keersmaeker brings to the stage in this production. This mathematical line was to be continued choreographically in such later pieces as Kinok and Amor Constante más allá de la muerte.
In the Toccata universe, harmony still dominates over chaos. With its almost classical language of movement, here and there fuelled by poses and patterns derived from Renaissance dance, this work is pervaded with a great serenity and modesty. But once again the classical aspect of this choreographic architecture, the continuity of the movements used and its emotional evenness are deliberately punctured: a hip will be held askew, a knee suddenly crumbles, a body runs out of control. There is hardly any unison work left in this choreography, and floor movements also appear less than in earlier productions. Its contrapuntal structure, which alternately takes up rapid, cheerful and calm movements, here takes the upper hand entirely. The circular, classic looking arm movements are also striking, and are again to be seen later in Kinok and Amor Constante.
Just as in Mozart/Concert Aria’s, in Toccata there is a moment of music without dancing, which invites the audience just to listen. This is in fact when the piece opens, with the Toccata in e-flat played by Jos van Immerseel, whose grand piano standing downstage drives a wedge into the dance floor (which is again in the form of two spirals revolving into each other). The Italian word ‘toccare’ means ‘to touch’, but also ‘receive’ and ‘move’; in musical history the toccata is known as ‘the most free and noncommittal of all musical forms’. In Toccata, De Keersmaeker does in fact link a great feeling of freedom and openness to a rigid geometry in the choreography. It does however have such a complexity that any feeling of rigidity vanishes completely.



Like Mikrokosmos, this piece, which opened in 1994, is also a three-part evening of dance: three choreographic episodes with separate histories are assembled in a single performance. However, compared to Mikrokosmos, or the later Woud, though ‘external’ elements like the set do give a certain unity to this evening of dance, it is to a considerably lesser degree. The whole is forged together by the dance language which, despite its apparent diversity, marks a new phase of the development in De Keersmaeker’s choreographic work: the cautious approach to the classic dance idiom.
The first part, Rosa, is a dance duet to Bela Bartók’s Violin Sonata. De Keersmaeker originally created this for Fumiyo Ikeda and Nordine Benchorf, and then with an eye to the short film entitled Rosa, which won several awards. Peter Greenaway filmed it in the refreshment room at the Opera in Ghent in 1992. So again we have Bartók, and again a duo between a man and a woman (see Mikrokosmos, the opening section of the production of the same name, from 1987). In the stage version, Rosa was performed by various casts in succession. After all, with the increase in funds already mentioned, the number of members of Rosas increased, particularly because of its new function as a repertory company. Over the last few years the Rosas company has been continually added to and its composition changed. There are however certain names that have for some time stood out as ‘permanent fixtures’: Cynthia Loemij, Samantha van Wissen, Marion Lévy, Anne Mousselet, and later Sarah Ludi and Marion Ballester.
The second part of Kinok is also called Kinok. It is a preliminary study for a new choreography, which was later to be incorporated into Amor Constante más allá de la muerte, a production created at the end of 1994. The sequence of movement Marion Ballester set up in Kinok might be called the ‘primal’ or basic phrase used in Amor Constante: a slow sideways bend with arms stretched in the classical manner, executed to a theme played on the oboe. Each individual dancer in Kinok has their own movements, with separate musical stepping stones. There are barely any signs of dancing in unison to be found.
The third part of the Kinok performance is a re-working of the choreography set to Beethoven’s Grosse Füge, originally conceived for Erts. Nine dancers enter into varying relationships in duos and trios; the music is also given moments of complete freedom in this final part.


Amor Constante más allá de la muerte

In this piece (made in 1994), twelve years after Rosas danst Rosas, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker renewed her collaboration with the composer Thierry De Mey. Work on the dance and the music was once more carried out simultaneously and in mutual consultation. The resulting performance was in every respect multi-layered. The simultaneous creation of the music and the dance during the working process assumed particularly complex and often innovative forms. Dance structures generated sound material, and vice versa; or music and choreography both started from an external element, such as the spiral form, and in this way developed their own material.
Amor Constante consists of seven parts; one of them is Kinok, which we have just discussed. Since Kinok was the first to be made, this choreography functions as a sort of ‘source material’ from which the language of movement continues to be developed. The central focus of the language of movement was the spiral. On the one hand this form was reflected in the importance of upward and downward movement, and on the other in the course marked out on the stage floor and which ended up facing inwards or else open towards the outside. The title of the piece refers to another crucial source of inspiration – the poem of the same name by the Spanish baroque poet Quevedo. The two possible variations on the spiral – outside to inside, and vice versa – can also be linked to life and death, to what dies off and what lives on, and thus with ‘becoming’ as described by Quevedo. The text of the poem was present in the performance itself, in the form, among other things, of sign language. In Amor Constante every dancer works with personal movements and follows their own course. Even the timbre of certain musical instruments, such as the oboe, is linked to particular dancers. This leads to the creation of abstract, even musical characters. The choreography is composed entirely contrapuntally, heavily influenced by ‘classical material’ but, once again, without adopting the symmetry or harmony of classical ballet.
Thierry De Mey’s music is played live by the Ictus music group, which has for sometime been in residence on Rosas’ premises. At several moments it is actually integrated into the choreography. Different parts of the music are played on different parts of the stage. The part that is particularly striking in this respect is that where the musicians take up positions at the rear of the stage and play a percussion piece led by the dancer Marion Ballester. This is just one striking scenic example of the intense interaction entered into by dance and music in Amor Constante.


Erwartung/ Verklärte Nacht/Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene

In late 1995 La Monnaie opera house in Brussels presented the three-part work Erwartung/ Verklärte Nacht/ Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene. In this production, for the first time since it had been resident at La Monnaie, Rosas performed in an ‘opera ballet’, a form which provided divertimenti during an evening’s opera. However, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas fulfilled this function in such a way as to give it a completely new content. To be more precise, the dance is not a subordinate part of the opera event, but a full and defining partner in the overall performance, accompanied by the orchestra of La Monnaie under Antonio Pappano.
What primarily unifies this three-parter is the music of Arnold Schonberg. In addition to this, Gilles Aillaud’s set – the recurring moon, the rather realistic wood – also plays a connective part. The performance as a whole was led in tandem by the choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and the German director Klaus Michael Grüber. He opens the evening with a staging of Erwartung, a piece for solo singer, sung alternately by Anja Silja and Janis Martin. The second part is a sort of entr’acte: an excerpt from the Marx Brothers’ film A Night At the Opera (the scene in a ship’s cabin) is shown, accompanied by Schönberg’s Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene. At the same time Marion Lévy dances in front of the screen like an excited little girl, occasionally looking up at the screen and its characters – which accentuates the contrast between the film and the music.
The performance ends with a group choreography by De Keersmaeker set to Verklärte Nacht, one of Schönberg’s scores that can be considered still as Late Romantic. The composition is based on a poem by Richard Dehmel about a woman who, one moonlit night, confesses in a wood to the man she loves that she is pregnant by someone else (for which the man forgives her). De Keersmaeker gave shape to this romantic subject using six couples, from which two women also emerge as soloists. The romanticism of the music is toned down by dissonant elements in the movements. Because, although this is De Keersmaeker’s most ‘classical’ choreography, the accompanying atmosphere is also constantly interrupted by her familiar brusque and unexpected movements, by the sudden spiralling and accelerations, or by the leaps which appear distinctly unusual in this context. One can sense the story in the poem behind the choreography, but by not opting to work illustratively with just one couple, one hardly sees any characters. The abstract nature of the dance is however occasionally tempered by concrete, realistic actions: taking off shoes or a shirt, the man covering the woman with his jacket.


Three Movements to the Music of Berg, Schönberg & Wagner

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s productions link together like a chain: in 1996 the choreography set to Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht was integrated into the full-length performance called Woud. This is another three-parter, but is preceded by a short film called Tippeke. De Keersmaeker continues to probe the points of contact between dance and other disciplines. The film was made by Thierry De Mey, and shows a woman (played by De Keersmaeker herself) who dances through the trees in a wood while reciting the children’s rhyme called Tippeke. De Mey composed a cello solo as musical accompaniment to the film.
Tippeke dissolves naturally into a choreography, set in Gilles Aillaud’s wood setting from Verklärte Nacht, in which a dance is performed to Alban Berg’s Lyrical Suite. The movements used here explore the classical vocabulary much more clearly than those in earlier productions. But individual ‘expressive’ accents provide an unusual atmosphere. It must be said that De Keersmaeker has never deliberately set herself against classical ballet, nor against the dance language of other predecessors. Yet one can say that her relations with dance tradition in the later productions display a different attitude. It is that of a dramatic artist who has reached maturity, and who will therefore build up a personal relationship with the history of dance.
After several changes to the wooded setting, Berg’s Lyrical Suite is followed by the choreography set to Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht. Woud ends with a short dance to Im Treibhaus, one of Wagner’s Wesendonck songs. It is as if, also in terms of music, De Keersmaeker wants to return to the roots of the modern classical tradition. Opening with a composition by De Mey, then going back through Berg, Schönberg and Wagner: she is running through musical history in reverse order.
Woud revolves around the relationship between dance and music in more senses than one, music that is here performed live by the Duke Quartet (expanded into a sextet for Verklärte Nacht and Im Treibhaus). The production once more confirms that De Keersmaeker’s work is informed by a quest for a fruitful ‘mutual infection’ between the two art forms, for poetics that unites the two. Apart from this, considerations related more to content also give Woud an enfolding dramaturgical unity. For instance, the theme of the impossible passion between a man and a woman provides a motivation for the compositions by Berg, Schönberg and Wagner. Nature too – the wood in Tippeke, the stage set of the changing wood – is a powerful presence from the beginning till the end of the performance. In fact at the end of Woud, images from the film are shown once again. And finally there is the dramaturgy itself: the child Tippeke, alone in the filmed wood with which the performance opens, has by the end, in Wagner’s Im Treibhaus, become a woman alone in the wood.


Solo for Vincent (Dunoyer)

In 1997 Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker for the first time created a choreography at another person’s request, though this person was not entirely unknown to her. In fact it was made for a dancer who had worked for Rosas for several years, and with whom, in Achterland and other pieces, De Keersmaeker had gone quite a long way in exploring the translation of ‘female movements’ to a male body. This choreography is one of a three-part piece. In addition to Solo for Vincent, Dunoyer’s solo performance also includes Dances with TV and Mic (staged by Liz LeCompte and The Wooster Group) and Carbon, choreographed by the well known American dancer and choreographer Steve Paxton. In her contribution, De Keersmaeker examines what methods make it possible to arrive at a common language of movement for a dancer and a choreographer, and for a man and a woman.


We already said it in our introduction, and we can only repeat it here: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s work, still in full development, does not yet allow any final conclusions to be drawn. Yet several unmistakable lines of force have emerged in the course of this synopsis, almost contrary to the writers’ intention. We are thinking especially of the investigation of possible cross-connections between divergent stage genres and art forms; of the thematic importance of ‘the sexual difference’ and, linked to this, of ‘femininity’; of the search for synthetic relationships between dance and music, based on a thorough analysis of the score; of the partial but nonetheless clear shift towards a positively disposed dialogue with dance traditions; and finally of ‘the emancipation of the dancer’ by enabling them to make a major contribution to the working process and the creation of movements. It was also her daily work with dancers often trained to do no more than perform that stimulated De Keersmaeker to set up a new, different type of dance school. After a period of thorough preparation and reflection, the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (PARTS) started up officially in 1995. The objective of this three-year course (as from 1999 it is being transformed into a four-year course) is to train performers with a multimedia background and a critical and reflective attitude. A maximum of thirty pupils per year are admitted, by auditions held all over the world. This international group of young people follows a phased programme which in several respects is connected to the lines of force in the work of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker we have just mentioned.
An average ‘working day’ at PARTS starts with a dance lesson. The students are given lessons in both classical ballet and modern and contemporary forms of dance. The aim here is to keep a balance between the various movements in twentieth-century dance. The dance teachers have been, or still are, members of renowned companies: Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Forsythe, Bausch, etc. Or Rosas: the PARTS students also learn the Rosas repertoire. In addition to a classical, the choreographic vocabularies of Brown, Forsythe, Bausch and De Keersmaeker form the educational foundations of the dance instruction. But the course does not limit itself to ‘learning to dance’. Periods in each year are devoted to an intensive theatre workshop and, apart from the dance lessons, musical training (singing, rhythm, musical analysis, etc.) is just about the most important element of the school. The pupils are taught rhythm by Fernand Schirren, who was once the young De Keersmaeker’s teacher at the Mudra school. Another striking aspect is the relatively large part played by so-called theoretical subjects such as philosophy, semiotics and sociology. At the same time the students are taught something one might call historical awareness, by means, on the one hand, of lessons in theatre and dance history, and on the other, of mostly project-based education in the development of film and the visual arts.
One might say that by setting up PARTS, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker has come full circle. In the eighties and nineties she made dance history with her own work; PARTS promises coming generations the possibility of acquiring the basic principles of that work in a creative way. But of course the image of the circle is misleading: De Keersmaeker’s future work will be continued, and undoubtedly renewed, in the first place by the choreographer herself.


You will find here, arranged by year, the title of the production in italics, the name of the choreographer, the composer, the dancers (in the first performance), the designer, the opening venue, the opening date. Some information about film and video productions is also given.


Dance and performing arts

Asch. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Serge Biran, Christian Copin. Dancers: Jean Luc Breuer, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Nieuwe Workshop Brussels. 21 October 1980.

Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Steve Reich. Dancers: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Michèle Anne De Mey. Beursschouwburg Brussels. 18 March 1982.

Rosas danst Rosas. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Thierry De Mey - Peter Vermeersch. Dancers: Adriana Borriello, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Michèle Anne De Mey, Fumiyo Ikeda. Kaaitheaterfestival, Théâtre de la Balsamine Brussels. 6 May 1983.

Elena’s Aria. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Di Capua, Bizet, Donizetti, Mozart. Dancers: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Michèle Anne De Mey, Nadine Ganase, Roxane Huilmand, Fumiyo Ikeda. Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg, Brussels. 18 October 1984.

Bartók/Aantekeningen. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Béla Bartók. Dancers: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Nadine Ganase, Roxane Huilmand, Fumiyo Ikeda, Johanne Saunier. Designer: Gisbert Jäkel. C.B.A.-theater Brussels. 16 May 1986.

Verkommenens Ufer/Medeamaterial/Landschaft mit Argonauten (Heiner Müller). Choreographer and director: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Dancers and actors: Kitty Kortes Lynch, Johan Leysen, André Verbist. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos. Springdance Festival, Utrecht. 4 April 1987.

Mikrokosmos. Monument/ Selbstporträt mit Reich und Riley (und Chopin ist auch dabei)/ Im zart fliessender Bewegung - Quatuor No.4. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Béla Bartók, György Ligeti. Dancers: Jean-Luc Ducourt, Johanne Saunier, Nadine Ganase, Roxane Huilmand, Fumiyo Ikeda. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos. Halles de Schaerbeek Brussels. 1 October 1987.

Ottone, Ottone. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Claudio Monteverdi. Dancers: Nicole Balm, Nordine Benchorf, Michèle Anne De Mey, Pierre Droulers, Jean-Luc Ducourt, Natalia Espinet I Valles, Nadine Ganase, Fumiyo Ikeda, John Jasperse, Kitty Kortes Lynch, Nathalie Million, Oscar Dasi Perez, Vincente Saez, Johanne Saunier, Wouter Steenbergen, Marc Willems. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos. Halles de Schaerbeek, Brussels. 22 September 1988.

Stella. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: György Ligeti. Dancers: Fumiyo Ikeda, Marion Levy, Nathalie Million, Carlotta Sagna, Johanne Saunier. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos. Toneelschuur, Haarlem. 9 March 1990.

Achterland. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: György Ligeti, Eugène Ysaÿe. Dancers: Nordine Benchorf, Bruce Campbell, Vincent Dunoyer, Fumiyo Ikeda, Marion Levy, Nathalie Million, Carlotta Sagna, Johanne Saunier. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. La Monnaie opera house, Brussels. 27 November 1990.

Erts. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Anton Webern, Alfred Schnittke, Luciano Berio, Velvet Underground. Dancers: Nordine Benchorf, Bruce Campbell, Vincent Dunoyer, Thomas Hauert, Muriel Hérault, Oliver Koch, Marion Levy, Cynthia Loemij, Nathalie Million, Anne Mousselet, Johanne Saunier, Eduardo Torroja, Samantha Van Wissen. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos. Halles de Schaerbeek, Brussels. 2 February 1992. / Mozart/Concert Arias, un moto di gioia. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Dancers: Nordine Benchorf, Marc Bruce, Bruce Campbell, Vincent Dunoyer, Phillip Egli, Joanne Fong, Thomas Hauert, Muriel Hérault, Marion Levy, Cynthia Loemij, Nathalie Million, Anne Mousselet, Johanne Saunier, Eduardo Torroja, Samantha Van Wissen. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos. Palais des Papes, Festival of Avignon. 30 July 1992.

Toccata. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Johann Sebastian Bach. Dancers: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Vincent Dunoyer, Fumiyo Ikeda, Marion Levy, Johanne Saunier. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos. Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam. 27 June 1993.

Kinok. Rosa/ KinokGroße Füge. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Béla Bartók, Thierry De Mey, Ludwig van Beethoven. Dancers: Suman Hsu, Ossman Kassen Khelili, Marion Ballester, Franck Chartier, Misha Downey, Philipp Egli, Thomas Hauert, Sarah Ludi, Christian Spuck. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos. Lunatheater, KunstenfestivaldesArts, Brussels. 18 May 1994.

Amor constante más allá de la muerte. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Thierry De Mey. Dancers: Marion Ballester, Philipp Egli, Misha Downey, Kosi Hidama, Suman Hsu, Osman Kassen Khelili, Brice Leroux, Marion Levy, Cynthia Loemij, Mark Lorimer, Sarah Ludi, Anne Mousselet, Johanne Saunier, Samantha Van Wissen. Designer: Herman Sorgeloos. Koninklijk Circus, Brussels. 30 November 1994.

Erwartung/ Verklärte Nacht/Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Arnold Schönberg. Dancers: Marion Ballester, Misha Downey, Kosi Hidama, Suman Hsu, Osman Kassen Khelili, Oliver Koch, Brice Leroux, Marion Levy, Cynthia Loemij, Mark Lorimer, Sarah Ludi, Anne Mousselet, Johanne Saunier, Samantha Van Wissen. Designer: Gilles Aillaud. La Monnaie opera house, Brussels. 4 November 1995.

Woud. Three movements to the music of Berg, Schönberg & Wagner. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Thierry De Mey, Alban Berg, Arnold Schönberg, Richard Wagner. Dancers: Marion Ballester, Iris Bouche, Farooq Chaudhry, Kosi Hidama, Suman Hsu, Oliver Koch, Sarah Ludi, Cynthia Loemij, Mark Lorimer, Samantha Van Wissen. Designer: Gilles Aillaud, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Teatro Central, Sevilla, Spain. 19 December 1996. / Solo for Vincent. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Music: Heinz Holliger, Robert Schumann. Dancer: Vincent Dunoyer. Spring Dance Festival, Utrecht. 20 April 1997.

Film and video

Hoppla! Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Direction: Wolfgang Kolb (16 mm. Colour).

Ottone/Ottone (monologue by Fumiyo Ikeda). Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Direction: Walter Verdin, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (betacam SP, b/w).

Ottone/Ottone I & II. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Direction: Walter Verdin, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (betacam SP, colour & b/w).

Rosa. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Direction: Peter Greenaway (35 mm. b/w).

Mozart/Materiaal (documentary). Direction: Ana Torfs and Jürgen Persijn (betacam SP).

Achterland. Choreography and direction: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (35 mm. b/w).

Tippeke. Choreography and dancer: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Direction and music: Thierry De Mey (super 16 mm. Colour).

Rosas danst rosas. Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Direction: Thierry De Mey (35 mm.).


Archive Material

Rosas archives. Kaaitheater archives. Flemish Theatre Institute.


General works and articles

Rosas Album, photos by Herman Sorgeloos, Amsterdam: Nederlands Theater Instituut, 1993.
Korteweg, A. Uitgedraaid: elf stukken over dans. Over de vloeibare dansers van ATDK, Nederlands Instituut voor de Dans, November, 1992.
Bousset, S. and M. Van Kerkhoven. ‘Je stem is een deel van je lichaam. Een gesprek met Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’, in: Theaterschrift. De tekst en zijn varianten, 1991, pp. 51-56.
Boxberger, E. ‘Bewegungen aus dem Nichts. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker über die Rolle der Musik und die Arbeit mit der Tänzern’, in: Tanz Aktuell, November-December 1993, pp. 14-17.
Brooks, V. ‘Dance and Film. Changing Perspectives in a Changing World’, in: Ballet International, February 1993, pp. 23-25.
De Jonge, P., P. T’Jonck and E. Vanhaeren. ‘Klapstuk ’83. Folkwang Tanzstudio 1928/1983. Het expressionisme in de danskunst’, in: Etcetera, January 1984, pp. 46-47.
Dubois, M. ‘Le corps dansé envol ou vol plané?’, in: Art & Culture, September 1994, pp. 20-21.
Genicot, T. ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker retour aux sources’, in: Art & Culture, November 1994, p. 61.
Mallems, A. ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Haar zekere onzekerheden’, in: Notes, June 1993, pp. 8-10.
Mallems, A. ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: A Portrait’, in: Articles, 1987, pp. 18-22.
Ost, M. ‘Avantgarde und Klassik. De Keersmaeker, Preljocaj, Morris und Forsythe in Wien’, in: Tanz Aktuell. Zeitung Für Tanz Theater Bewegung, May 1990, pp. 24-25.
Shewey, D. ‘The Flemish Performance Boom. Survival Theatre of the Eurokids’, in: American Theatre, 10 November 1987.
Van Den Dries, L. ‘Stuttgart. Theater der Welt’, in: Etcetera, September 1987, pp. 63-64.
Van Kerkhoven, M. ‘The Dance of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’, in: The Drama Review, 3, 1984, pp. 98-103.
Van Kerkhoven, M. ‘Tussen hemel en aarde. Een gesprek met Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’, in: Theaterschrift 2. The Written Space. 1992, pp. 169-197.
Van Kerkhoven, M. ‘De besmetting tussen dans en music. Een gesprek met Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker en Thierry De Mey’, in: Theaterschrift 9. Theatre and Music, pp. 206-232.
Verstockt, K. ‘Een storm in een glas water of een nieuw elan voor de dans. Jonge Vlaamse choreografen’, in: Ons Erfdeel, 4, 1991, pp. 555-562.
Weldman, S. ‘Danse Dense. Constance et Circonstances’, in: Art & Culture, November 1990, pp. 9-12.
Welzien, L. ‘What men are moved by’, in: Ballet Tanz, April 1994, pp. 18-19.

Articles on individual performances

De Bruycker, D. ‘ Fase d’ A.T. de Keersmaeker. Au delà du minimalisme’, in: Pour la danse, November 1983.
Jordan, S. and H. Friend. ‘Dance Umbrella Part III’, in: Dancing Times, January 1983.
Parry, J. ‘De Keersmaeker’, in: Dance and Dancers, February 1983.
TVR. ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker over de grenzen’, in: Etcetera, 1, 1983, p. 48.
Verstockt, K. ‘Hoop voor het nieuwe ballet’, in: Knack, 31 March 1982.

Rosas danst Rosas
De Bruycker, D. ‘Anna (sic) Térésa de Keersmaeker: Rosas danst Rosas’, in: Pour la Danse, July 1983.
Van Kerkhoven, M. ‘ Rosas danst Rosas. Plots rolt iemand weg uit die stille machine van lijven’, in: Etcetera, June 1983, pp. 9-12.

Elena’s Aria

De Jonge, P. and K. Tindemans, ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. De vechtlust van de kwetsbare’, in: Etcetera, January 1985, pp. 16-20.
De Jonge, P. and K. Tindemans, ‘ Elena’s Aria’, in: Etcetera, January 1985, p. 21.
Kisselgoff, A. ‘De Keersmaeker’s Innovative Choreography’, in: The New York Times, 6 November 1987.

Deputter, M. ‘ Bartók/Aantekeningen: Schijnbaar moeiteloze elegantie’, in: Etcetera, July 1986, pp. 48-50.
Kisselgoff, A. ‘Startling Images From a Young Choreographer’, in: The New York Times, 9 November 1986.
Lanz, I. ‘The Netherlands: De Keersmaeker. Undisputed Highlight of Holland Festival ‘86’, in: Ballet International, September 1986.
Jowitt, D. ‘Minimalism? More Like a Feast’, in: Village Voice, 18 November 1986.
Parry, J. ‘Gasps, slaps, gasps, slaps’, in: Observer, 16 February 1986.
Percival, J. ‘Taking Small Steps Forward’, in: The Times, 13 February 1986.
Six, G. ‘De dans ontsprongen. De Newyorkse toernee van Rosas en Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’, in: Knack, 27 November 1986.

Adolphe, J.M. ‘Bruxelles Paris’, in: Pour la danse, May 1987.

Ottone Ottone
Arvers, F. ‘ Ottone, Ottone’, in: Pour la danse, no 160/161, July-August 1989, p. 23.
De Vuyst, H. ‘ Ottone, Ottone’, in: Etcetera, 4, 1988, pp. 28-30.
Korteweg, A. ‘De woede van choreografe Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Angst is een chemisch proces’, in: De Volkskrant, 18 November 1988.
Odenthal, J. ‘ Ottone, Ottone’, in: Tanz Aktuell, July-August 1989, pp. 18-19.
Tee, E. ‘ Ottone, Ottone/1991’, in: Notes, December 1991, pp. 6-9.
Verstockt, K. ‘De pijnlijkste gevoelens van een mens’, in: Knack, 12 October 1988.

Heijer, J. ‘Ze stelt zich aan, ze kan niet anders’, in: NRC Handelsblad, 23 March 1990.
Hughes, D. ‘Stop making sense’, in: Dance Theatre Journal, summer 1991, pp. 16-19.
Verstockt, K. ‘Op het scherp’, in: Knack, 28 March 1990.

De Jonge, S. ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker danst. “De pijn stroomt mij altijd veel langer door het bloed dan het geluk”’, in: Humo, 6 February 1991 (interview).
Lambrechts, A.-M. ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Achterland, m/v’, in: Etcetera, 33, pp. 10-12.
Van Rompay, Theo ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker / Rosas. Achterland’, in: De Munt/ La Monnaie Magazine, June and September 1993, pp. 30-31.
Van Toorn, W. ‘De onbereikbaarheid van het gewone’, in: Notes, January 1991, pp. 5-7.
‘Materiaal dat provoceert, daar hou ik van’, in: Notes, May 1991, pp. 14-17.

Duynslaeger, P. ‘Ongrijpbaar aards. De Keersmaeker zet lichaamstaal om in pure filmtaal’, in: Knack, 29 June 1994.
T’Jonck, P. ‘De lucht is zwanger van onuitgesproken verlangens’, in: Etcetera, 37, 1992, pp. 10-12.
T’Jonck, P. ‘Rosas danst Erts. Op zoek naar nieuwe verbanden’, in: Notes, March 1992, pp. 24-27.
Verstockt, K. ‘Zonder wrevel’, in: Knack, 5 December 1990.

Mozart/Concert Aria’s
Schmidt, C. ‘Keersmaeker’s Concert-Arias’, in: Dance Theatre Journal, autumn 1992, p. 11.
T’Jonck, P. ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’, in: Etcetera, no. 39, 19921993, pp. 36-41.

Laermans, R. ‘Bach/Creatie ’93. “De dingen moeten zichzelf uitwijzen”’, in: Notes, June 1993, pp. 11-12.
‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker / Rosas. Toccata’, in: De Munt/ La Monnaie Magazine, June and September 1994, pp. 33-37.

Steijn, R. ‘Choreograferen op de tekentafel’, in: Notes, June-July-August 1994, pp. 38-40.
Verstockt, K. ‘De beweging van het oog’, in: Knack, 1 June 1994.

Amor Constante más allá de la muerte
De Mey, T. ‘Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker/ Rosas. Amor constante más allá de la muerte’, in: De Munt/ La Monnaie Magazine, December 1994-January 1995, pp. 41-44.
Rubens, V. ‘Verborgen intenties’, in: Etcetera, 49, 1995, pp. 33-35.
Van Imschoot, M. ‘De liefde voor muziek van Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’, in: De Morgen, 30 November 1994.
Verstockt, K. ‘Liefde met alle egards’, in: Knack, 14 December 1994.

Schmidt, J. ‘Turning onto the high road. A new De Keersmaeker dance work in Brussels’, in: Ballet International / Tanz Aktuell, March 1997, 40.
Verduyckt, P. ‘Een meisje in het bos. Woud van Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’, in: Knack, 5 February 1996.