Mention Belgium and you might think of chocolate or beer, but it also occupies a special position in the world of contemporary dance.
Back when Europe’s contemporary dance scene began to bloom in the 1980s, Belgium produced a large number of its central figures, including the multitalented choreographer and artist Jan Fabre, artist Jan Lauwers with theatrical dance troupe Needcompany, and Wim Vanderkeybus with his stormy ensemble Ultima Vez.
On that illustrious roll call, too, was Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, who presented her debut dance piece, “Asch,” as a 20-year-old in 1980. The piece propelled her into the limelight.
In 1983, the young artist founded the Rosas dance company with friends from the Mudra dance school in Brussels (founded by the fabled French choreographer Maurice Bejart). Ever since, her minimalist and experimental programs have been right up there at the top of the contemporary dance world tree.
This time around in Japan, Keersmaeker and nine dancers from Rosas are set to grace Saitama Arts Center with their latest work, 2008’s “Zeitung” (which means “newspaper” in German), together with their powerful Belgian collaborator, pianist Alain Franco.
Working with Keersmaeker, Franco has restructured music by Johann Sebastien Bach, Anton Webern and Arnold Schonberg. For this program he will perform live on stage alongside casually clothed dancers who will express their improvisational style.
As the Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique put it in reviewing the production last year in Paris: “It is simplicity made visible because of the harmony surrounding it.”
“Zeitung” runs Nov. 27-29 at the Saitama Arts Center, an 8-minute walk from JR Yonohonmachi Station on the Saikyo Line from Shinjuku or Ikebukuro stations. For more details, call the Saitama Arts Foundation at (0570) 064-939 or visit www.saf.or.jp