Maarten Seghers at Latitudes Contemporaines: Chap-o!!!
Bérengère Alfort - (10 June 2016)

Having programmed the first piece by Maarten Seghers and his group, where the choreographer himself performs as a free electron, the Latitudes Contemporaines festival in Lille has brought a hazardous undertaking to a successful conclusion. The artist had already given a well-received solo performance in France, in an outstanding show at the Théâtre des Vanves. Seghers, a musician, dancer, performer and visual artist, is a member of Jan Lauwers’ Needcompany. Is that the source of the burlesque, almost childlike theatricality of his work, his play on the atavistic reflexes of the animal within us? How can you combine humour and music? O provides an unsettling answer to this question. From the very beginning, Seghers sets the tone, armed as an orchestral member with a cello from which he [in fact Simon Lenski] elicits a couple of notes that are multiplied by the basses. Onstage, his four male companions add, to their heart’s content, innocent or acrobatic, static or spontaneous expressions, which are invariably comical and slightly deviant. The cello is replaced by drums and percussion. One of the most memorable scenes is the so-called ‘creation’ scene, in which the five performers wear pieces of carpet as balaclava helmets while screaming out in unison words that end in an O sound. We also remember with pleasure the moment when one of the players adopts the role of a cow, with a bell round his neck. Amusing? Yes, but not only that. After all, beneath the good-natured irony of the piece (which at times, because of the fragility of its construction, does indeed still bear the mark of a first collective opus) lies another interpretation: anyone who is prepared to listen beyond the agreeable hubbub of the instruments will hear the philosophical implications of a world where the unambiguous truth makes way for the sometimes confusing variety of mankind, so that a poetic world opens up before him. That of ‘living together’. So the main theme of the piece is ‘the other’. A challenge that is taken up with love.

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Jan Lauwers Grace Ellen Barkey Maarten Seghers performing arts visual arts Film
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