Wim Vandekeybus, Blush

Review in Issue 16-1 | Spring 2004

Wim Vandekeybus started his career in the 80s with Jan Fabre, and Blush betrays its creator’s origins – impeccable stagecraft mixed with bits that push an audience’s tolerance to its limits. He is positioned in dance but his work is intensely theatrical. There’s spoken text and moments where the performers seem to react to stage events rather than carry out rehearsed activities.

It starts off with a piece of provocation. There is a big backdrop of a monochrome riverside scene, a man sleeping against it. A woman comes on stage, performs fellatio then mounts him as he sleeps. We’re into the theme of the show – attraction and division between the sexes. The male dancers look like members of American nu-metal bands, the women in their dresses look very 80s (Pina Bausch, early Forced Entertainment or indeed Jan Fabre). The dancing is dynamic – but every time you settle back to enjoy its sensuous qualities a piece of theatre intrudes to confound expectations.

Some sections of Blush were beautiful but perhaps a bit over-literal (a woman walking on the hands of a man who slithers along the floor) and some just made you long for them to stop – this isn’t a show created to make us feel comfortable. But there was one breathtakingly beautiful moment. The backdrop was whisked away to reveal a film of water playing on a big white screen. The dancers ran towards it and quite literally dived through it. Strips in the cloth allowed them to pass easily through. Their real disappearance coincided with splashes in the film and they appeared in larger scale swimming in the water. Quite fantastic!

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-1
p. 29