Portrait Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker

Eleven different pieces, added to which will be a Slow Walk right in the heart of Paris and programmes involving former and current students at the P.A.R.T.S (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios) school which she founded in Brussels. Just recognition for such a major body work, yes, but what strikes us most about the Portrait dedicated by the Festival d’Automne to the work of Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker is its amplitude. Few choreographers have the capacity to offer such a broad spectrum of work, spanning thirty-five years, the foundations of which were laid down with Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich (1982) and Rosas danst Rosas (1983). It goes without saying that such a varied offering would not have been possible without the unerring efforts of her company. The latter was to find its leader from the moment that Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, a recent graduate from the Mudra school, directed in Brussels by Maurice Béjart, embarked upon her “own, untrodden, but sure-footed path” (Henri Michaux) in the early 1980’s. Pistil and petals: the company was baptized Rosas. An epithet which, secretly, had as much to do with Gertude Stein’s “A rose is a rose is a rose” as it did with the rosaces of Gothic facades. Or, more directly, with the very structure of the rose: “within me”, confides the choreographer, “lies a fascination for the shapes and processes that stem from nature, perhaps the most astonishing of which is the spiral itself”.
Lasting from mid-September to the end of December, the string of choreographic pearls that the Festival d’Automne has put together bears witness to Keersmaeker’s artistic path, in terms of its persistence, constant renewal and sharpness of outline - kept in a permanent state of alert. That said, the efforts of the Rosas choreographer revolve around a single subject matter: the dialogue between structures and emotion, set in motion by Fase, that “infinite beginning”. How, within the confines of an unrelenting cadence - carried along, at the time, by the music of Steve Reich - can the body give itself over to a freedom of movement and interpretation? “So that avidity emerges at the encounter with the effusion.” (Paul Claudel, L’Oeil écoute)
Without compromising on the resources of danced movement, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker exhales a jubilant clairvoyance from her compositional lines. “Each new line has a desire of its own, which it follows as it uncovers it. [...] A path thus created, cheered along at will, has every chance of retaining this sense of astonishment with each new discovery, as opposed to redundant satiety. Jet or inflection, the line banishes regret, is inherently just, and makes spontaneity its rule of thumb” : what René Char wrote on the subject of Joan Miro’s paintings could just as well be applied, word for word, to the movement states whose present-in-the-making Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker traces out.
The line: a succession of points in space. In order to find answers to the mystery of articulations and interior universes, music, in the work of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, is much more than just another ingredient of onstage representation, a mere bringing together of different forms. The minimalism that accompanied her debuts - Steve Reich, Thierry De Mey - has progressively opened out into a beguiling range of musical sources, ranging from the ancient - the mediaeval Ars Subtilior -, the “classic-al” - Jean-Sebastien Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart -, the modern - György Ligetti, Eugène Ysaÿe, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern -, and the “jazzical” - Miles Davis, John Coltrane -, to the score of a text - with the likes of Quartett. The latter brought out the dramatic tensions in Heiner Müller’s writing inspired by Choderlos de Laclos’ novel Dangerous Liaisons, and saw the spawning of moving bodies and their insatiable virtuosity, conductors of rhythms, energies and emotions... “Music belongs too much to this world and all that we can designate for it to figure anything other than the essences of the Being, its ebb and flow, growth, explosions and its tumult”, wrote Merleau-Ponty. Such an appreciation would not have gone unheard by Fernand Shirren, the percussionist and “teacher of rhythm” under whom Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker studied at Mudra, and who she has in turn invited to teach at P.A.R.T.S. For Schirren, she says, “dance is not only about moving but also thinking. And this thinking reflects itself very clearly in our work”. And this is Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s brand of dance, a sort of thinking in movement, a constant flow of circumvolutions, surges, phrases and releases against which she swims.

Coming out this Autumn:
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker : Rosas, 2007-2017 – Photographic book / Published by Fonds Mercator and Actes Sud / 19 September 2018

The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès is the patron for the Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker Portrait.