Belgian choreographer Jan Fabre’s most controversial work, “Je Suis Sang (I am Blood),” will be performed for three stagings only in Japan at the Saitama Arts Center this weekend.

The production, which Fabre himself describes as a play, but many others position as between contemporary dance and theater, drew criticism following its world premiere at the Avignon Festival in 2001, due to what some felt to be its shockingly gory direction and use of blood-like paint.

But there were also those who hailed “Je Suis Sang” as an epoch-making production in the performing arts. It’s this view that appears to have prevailed, because the work was selected for headline staging at the same French festival in both 2003 and 2005.

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Arts in his home city of Antwerp, Fabre, 48, at first concentrated on drawing and sculpture before adding stage direction and choreography to his resume, aged 22.

Within two years, he was already attracting attention in the international drama world for his 8-hour-long play, “C’est du thea^tre comme c’etait a esperer et a prevoir.”

Since then, Fabre’s name has become better known for his nonstop work in dance, theater and opera, not only as a director/choreographer, but also as a stage designer and scriptwriter.

In a recent interview, Fabre said he focused on blood because he saw it as the source of human life, and that he tries to express his hope for humanity through stripping off the medieval-style armor in which he feels we are still clad in order to return to a primitive sense of being.

This production incorporates rock music, vibrant dance scenes and philosophical, Fabre-penned lines. With armor, swords and enough blood to make a vampire drool, this will be an avant-garde event to savor. “Je Suis Sang” runs Feb. 16 (7:30 p.m.) and 17-18 (4 p.m.) at Saitama Arts Center, an 8-minute walk from JR Yonohonmachi Station on the Saikyo Line. Tickets are 5,000 yen and 7,000 yen. For more information, call Saitama Arts Foundation at (048) 858-5511 or visit www.saf.or.jp

“Jan Fabre Visual Arts Exhibition” runs till Mar. 10 at Shugo Arts Gallery, near Kiyosumishirakawa Station on the Toei Oedo and Hanzomon lines. For more details, call Shugoarts at (03) 5621-6434.

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