De Gelderlander: Bach's work poured into dance

De Gelderlander: Bach's work poured into dance

March 2nd, 2023

The impressive oeuvre of one of the world’s greatest composers, Johan Sebastian Bach, forms the basis for Introdans’ latest production: BACH. The premiere is tomorrow evening in Nijmegen.

Sandra van Maanen, de Gelderlander, March 2nd, 2023


No ticket? Don’t worry, the international tour also takes the dancers to Doetinchem, Wageningen, Nijmegen again, Apeldoorn, Tiel and Arnhem. The promise? It doesn’t lie: choreographers went with Bach’s most beautiful music. Even more exciting: one of the four pieces in which there is no live performed dancing, but a film made by two Introdans dancers.

Choreographer Manuel Vignoulle presents ANIMA, a new work for a large ensemble that he made especially for this production. Physically tough for dancers, meditative for the audience. It’s about the personal journey to your true self.

„We start with the outside, the superficial facade, and travel further and further inward until all the layers have been peeled off and you arrive at the essence, the soul.” – Manuel Vignoulle.

Energy and pure desire is what Selon désir is all about. For those who know Bach even a little, the opening choruses from the Matthew and John Passions will be all too familiar. Its imagination by the Introdans dancers adds a new dimension. Artistic director Roel Voorintholt speaks highly of choreographer Andonis Foniadakis.

„He asks the utmost of our dancers, really lets every fiber move. With this work he leaves no one untouched.” – Artistic director Roel Voorintholt

Waving bodies

But is Bach’s work cast in concrete? The audience will receive an answer to that question in Corpus Bach, a choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Nicolas Vladyslav. Playful and seductive, the Moroccan-Belgian and French dance makers take Bach’s suites to new heights. Every note, played live on stage by cellist Detmar Leerketen, is reflected in the undulating bodies of the dancers.

The fourth piece is atypical and therefore interesting: the dance film. This is not live dancing for once, but a cinematic performance created by Intro dancers Jurriën Schobben and Alberto Villanueva Rodriguez. The dancers who recently won the Young Discovery Award with their film The Final Chapter – We Arnhem, dived into a deeper layer of the composer. In the life of Bach, the person behind the great works. That life was choreographed by them, danced by their fellow dancers. Then the question arises: why film?

„We’ve got a taste for it, the award we won gives us something to hold on to, it’s proof that we can do it”, – Alberto Villanueva Rodriguez

„So when Roel Voorintholt asked us to make a choreography and film for this performance, we were both surprised and honored.”

That one muscle

The film is not a promo for the performance, as Introdans often makes. Also no film in which dancers are introduced or footage to fill the time in between pieces. “This is a production in itself, an equal part of the programme. Film offers different, new possibilities. As a choreographer and maker it is a better way to zoom in on what you want to show the audience. Down to the last detail, down to that one muscle that matters so much at that moment,” says Jurriën Schobben.

For the film, the dancers immersed themselves in Bach’s life.

„Everyone knows his music, but who was he as a person?

We did a little research into his life, found out quickly that he was a difficult man. For himself especially. He was passionate but had a short fuse. He was religious too, hardworking and struggling. Bach went through many dark periods in his life. Because there was little time, we limited ourselves to three aspects that defined his life: discipline, willfulness (to the extreme, which landed him in prison) and perseverance. Bach could get his teeth into something, just kept going. His most beautiful works were created during the most difficult periods in his life.”

Bach’s Struggles

A choreography was made around these three qualities. The makers opted for an abstract representation. Dancers’ bodies depict Bach’s struggles, the fight he fought with himself. “That fight is being taken to a higher level,” says Alberto. “Bach was always looking for perfection, but the tragedy is that he probably never realized how much perfection he delivered.” The film was made in no time, after two days of rehearsals. “Something like this is only possible as quickly as you work with colleagues you know well, who are attuned to each other,” admits Jurriën. “We had to speed up and then practicality becomes key. The piece includes many organic moments in which dancers are free, and everyone took responsibility. Only the choreography for the group dance was fixed.” As part of the BACH performance, the film will add an unexpectedly fresh dimension. “Maybe he will soon also be seen at film festivals.”

Photo: David Jonathan Jagersma

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