A work of great beauty and sophistication

Vortex Temporum

opening HF 2014

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Rosas, Ictus

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From her earliest work, the renowned Flemish choreographer Anne Teresa De  Keersmaeker has used contemporary classical music as a source of inspiration. The present high point of this body of work is Vortex Temporum, which premiered in 2013 and is based on the musical piece of the same title by the French composer Gérard Grisey (1946-1998). For this performance, De Keersmaeker brings together the talents of the Ictus ensemble and her own company Rosas. Using basic, exact movements the seven dancers give physical expression to the pure, acoustic sounds and circular patterns of the composition. Jointly, the musicians and the dancers take the audience along on a search for different ways of experiencing time, ranging from extremely dense to endlessly expanding. It's a venture which results in a work of great beauty and sophistication.
Programme Icoon


Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
created with and danced by
Bostjan Antoncic
Marie Goudot
Carlos Garbin
Julien Monty
Michael Pomero
Cynthia Loemij
Igor Shyshko
created with
Chrysa Parkinson
Vortex temporum, Gérard Grisey (1996)
musical direction
Georges-Elie Octors
Jean-Luc Plouvier
Michael Schmid
Dirk Descheemaeker
Geert De Bièvre
Jeroen Robbrecht
Igor Semenoff
light design
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
Luc Schaltin
artistic advice light
Michel François
Anne-Catherine Kunz
musical dramaturgy
Bojana Cvejić
artistic assistant
Femke Gyselinck
rehearsal director
Mark Lorimer
artistic coordination and planning
Anne Van Aerschot
technical management
Joris Erven
Alex Fostier
assistant costumes
Valérie Dewaele
Maria-Eva Rodriguez
De Munt / La Monnaie (Brussel)
Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg
Théâtre de la Ville (Paris)
Sadler’s Wells (London)
Opéra de Lille
ImpulsTanz (Vienna)
Holland Festival (Amsterdam)
Concertgebouw Brugge
with thanks to
Thierry Bae
Jean-Paul Van Bendegem

Viel weiter kann man wohl nicht mehr gehen in der tänzerischen Erfoschung der Musik.

die Tageszeitung

Background information

In her latest performance Vortex Temporum, the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and her dance company Rosas team up with the musical ensemble Ictus in search of the many forms through which we can experience time. Based on the same-titled musical piece by the French composer Gérard Grisey (1946 -1998), the performance shows how time contracts, slows down, expands, whirls around, compounds and splits up again, like a maelstrom embodied in the sounds and the gestures of six musicians, the movements of seven dancers and the dynamics of the space.

De Keersmaeker has been returning regularly to the Holland Festival since her debut in 1993 with the premiere of her production Toccata, along with a number of reprises of earlier works. In 2010, she featured at the festival with three performances: Keeping Still part I, The Song and 3Abschied. Vortex Temporum sees her returning to her earlier minimalism, enriched by thirty years of experience as a groundbreaking choreographer. 'Contemporary music mirrors our time,' De Keersmaeker explains her fascination for this form of expression. 'I'm looking for ways to make the audience feel which elements of dance are hidden in the music. Contemporary music makes it all the more of a challenge, as it breaks with the steady rhythm and the tonal harmony we are so used to hearing because of the all-pervasive influence of pop music.'

From her earliest performances, De Keersmaeker has been using complex, contemporary music as her source of inspiration, early examples being Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich (1982) and Drumming (1988), which is set to the same-titled work by Reich. Musically,Vortex Temporum is a taut and sophisticated composition with a delicate timbre, great contrasts and an emphasis on spectral harmonies, natural acoustic sound and recurring circling and spiralling musical movements, patterns which are strongly representative of the Rosas choreographies. As previously in Cesena (2011) and En Atendant (2010), in Vortex Temporum De Keersmaeker pairs every musician with a dancer, the dancer giving shape to the music with his movements within a larger, fluid and interconnected group choreography.

De Keersmaeker first came across Vortex Temporum in 2006, at the time of her performance Zeitung, when the composer Thierry de Mey brought the composition to her attention. The abstract, mathematical construction of the piece had great dance potential, but it was the intense live performance of the music which especially inspired De Keersmaeker in her creation of the resulting choreography: the joint physical movements in playing the music, the relationship between the performers' bodies and instruments and the instruments' raw materialism and pure sounds.

The score has three parts with short breaks, in which the sound of the performers' breathing and movement, the noise and the reverberating sounds fill the silence in a subtle manner. The breaks are devised to give reprieve to the performers as well as the audience. Grisey himself has said about his work that the music exists in three different categories of time: 'In the human category (the time of language and of breathing), the whales' category of time (the periods of the sleeping rhythm) and the category of time of the birds and the insects (the most extremely compacted form of time, which makes the contours blur).'

'My walking is my dancing' served as a leading principle during rehearsals for Vortex Temporum. Although the music was her starting point, De Keersmaeker used the basic rhythms of the body – the heart beat, breathing and directional locomotion – to create the movements of the dancers. In close collaboration with Ictus' conductor Georges-Elie Octors every beat in Vortex Temporum was given an extremely exact physical expression. Interpreting the notes as well as the physical movements of playing the music, a special rapport is created between the dancers and the musicians, a constant and concentrated interaction between movement and sound. Everything is repeated, endlessly recurring in invisible mutual relationships, triggering a transformative theatre experience.

Vortex Temporum premiered on 3 October at the Ruhrtriennale and will have its Dutch premiere at the Holland Festival.


Ever since she started her career, the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (Mechelen, 1960) has been at the forefront of international contemporary dance. De Keersmaeker studied at Maurice Béjart's Mudra School in Brussels and at the New York University School of the Arts. Having made her debut as a choreographer with Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich in 1982, she founded her own company Rosas a year later in 1983, with Rosas danst Rosas as its debut performance. The success of these two performances established her break-through onto the international stage. Resident choreographer at the Brussels opera house La Monnaie from 1992 until 2007, De Keersmaeker initiated the international educational institute P.A.R.T.S (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios), a joint venture between La Monnaie and her dance company Rosas, in 1995. From the start, contemporary and classical music have played a vital role in her work, as well as jazz, traditional Indian music and pop music. De Keersmaeker directed a number of operas, including Béla Bartóks Bluebeard's Castle (1998) and Toshio Hosokawa's Hanjo (2004). She regularly looks to collaborate with other artists such as Ann Veronica Janssens and Jérôme Bel – both featured at the Holland Festival 2010 in the three-part programme Keeping Still part I, The Song and 3Abschied – and composers such as Steve Reich and Thierry de Mey. Since her performance Kinok in 1995, she has regularly worked with the musicians of the Ictus ensemble.
De Keersmaeker is also creating performances that blend choreography with texts: Kassandra, speaking in twelve voices (2004), I said I (1999), and
In Real Time (2000). Several of her works have also been turned into autonomous dance films, directed by Thierry De Mey, Peter Greenaway, and De Keersmaeker herself, among others.
De Keersmaeker's work is characterised by a constantly evolving dynamic between architectural compositions and a distinct sensuality and theatricality, a unique style which has won her many prizes. She received the H. Scripps / American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2011), the Gold Order of Merit of the Austrian State of Vienna (2011) and she was decorated with the French Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her contributions to the enrichment of the arts in France and across the world (2008).
Her most recent works are Partita 2 (2013), a duet with dancer and choreographer Boris Charmatz, set to Bach's Partita No. 2 and Vortex Temporum (2013), on the music of Gérard Grisey.


The French composer Gérard Grisey (1946 -1998) was one of the most original composers of his generation. He rose to fame with his so-called spectral music, a unique method of composing using mathematical principles, sonograms and analyses of the spatial structure of sound. His work is characterised by a fascination for slowly unfolding musical processes, as well as a love for elements of Oriental, Asian and Western music, whimsical twists and surprising humour. He spent much of his career exploring the overlapping tone colours between harmonic overtones and dissonant sounds, moving between harmony and chaos. Born in Belfort, Grisey studied at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in the German town of Trossingen between 1963 and 1965. Subsequently, he attended the l‘Ecole Normale de Musique under Henry Dutilleux in 1968 and the Conservatoire de Paris from 1968 until 1972, under Olivier Messiaen. He took additional courses at the Accademia Chigiana in the Italian town of Sienna in 1969 and at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt (1972). Grisey was a winner of the prestigious French Prix de Rome, taking up a residency at the Villa Medici from 1972 until 1974. In 1973, Grisey founded the L’Itinéraire group with Tristan Murail, Roger Tessier and Michael Levinas. His famous works include Dérives (1974), Talea (1986), the monumental composition in six parts Les Espaces Acoustiques (1976 -1985) and Vortex Temporum (1996). A gifted and inspiring coach, he started developing his considerable teaching talents from the early 1980's. From 1982 until 1986 he was Appointed Professor of Theory and Composition at the University of Berkeley in California, subsequently returning to France to teach at the Conservatoire de Paris. In 2007 his composition Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil (1996 -1998) was performed at the Holland Festival.


Rosas is a dance company from Brussels founded and led by the Flemish choreographer and dancer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. Having risen to instant international fame with her debut performance Fase, four movements to the music of Steve Reich (1982), de Keersmaeker went on to found her own company Rosas a year later, Rosas danst Rosas being their first performance. Over the course of thirty years, the company has built an impressive body of work, which includes works such as Drumming (1998) Raga for the Rainy Season / A Love Supreme (2005), Zeitung (2008), and the three productions which featured at the Holland Festival 2010: Keeping Still part I, The Song and 3Abschied. Rosas' dance aesthetic is to create pure writing with movement in space and time, based on the relationship between movement and music, or, in some productions, between dance and text. With its permanent ensemble of dancers, the company's structure enables a personal development plan for each individual dancer. Whilst creating new productions, Rosas also continues to perform from its repertoire. The company has intensive working relationships with established international cultural organisations as well as a regular association with a number of smaller venues. Having set itself an explicit task to promote art education, Rosas has developed a number of educational and participatory projects. Some of these, including the Bal Modern event, the international educational institute Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (P.A.R.T.S.) and the residence programme Workspacebrussels, have succeeded in becoming independent organisations, creating space for new projects such as Dancingkids and Rondomdans. Rosas shares its infrastructure not only with P.A.R.T.S., but also with the contemporary music ensemble Ictus, Workspace Brussels, the Summer Studios’ summer guests, and other companies.


The Flemish ensemble Ictus is a permanent collective of twenty musicians, a director and a sound engineer, who perform contemporary music. Since 1994 Ictus has been housed in the premises of the Rosas dance company in Brussels. Since their first collaboration, Kinok in 1995, Ictus and Rosas have worked together on dozens of productions. Ictus concentrates on post-1950's music, playing a variety of different styles, from George Aperghis to Steve Reich and from Tom Waits to Mike Patton. The group's concerts are always centred around either a specific theme or the work of a specific composer. The ensemble also regularly collaborates on staged productions such as operas, videos or dance performances. Concentrating on contemporary music, the use of electronics is an integral part of the ensemble's musical practice. Every year, in collaboration with the Brussels Philharmonic Society and the Kaaitheater, Ictus organises a series of concerts for a broad and diverse audience, often combining music and spoken word. The collective has played at many international venues and renowned festivals, including Musica Strasbourg, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Festival d'Automne à Paris, Ars Musica, Royaumont, Milano Musica, Ultraschall, Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, Wien-Modern and the Holland Festival. Since 2004 the ensemble has been in residence at the opera of Lille. In 2010, Ictus performed in three productions at the Holland Festival: 3Abschied by Rosas, American vocal artist Mike Patton's concert Laborintus II and Telegrams from the Nose by South-African artist William Kentridge. This year, Ictus will join Rosas in a performance of Gérard Grisey's masterpiece Vortex Temporum (1996).

This performance was made possible with support by