What was immediately marked for a couple of times was the time each artist, dancer, or actor needed for exploring. To perfect one movement, one phrase, is not enough. What is important is to make the movement say something, to keep it from overacting, and to have them organically come one from another. The only way to achieve that is if the artists abandon themselves to a long, exhausting work and to the perfecting of the technique in their discipline. Therefore, our participants explored the difference between “small and big”, and how the two correspond. Afterwards, they practiced various types of lifts, which made it possible for the participants to understand cooperation with partners, the relations of body within the space, and how much strength is required to perform an extremely demanding lift safely and with understanding of the mechanics. Another important aspect of Wim’s work is imagination reflected through physical actions, movement, act, voice, and sometimes even look. In the first half an hour of the workshop already, the participants were in sweat, determined to imbibe the knowledge Mr Vandekeybus wholeheartedly shared. At the end of the first day, everyone left with a big smile on their face, seen out by Vandekeybus just as he had greeted them when they arrived. The master comes the first and leaves the last.
The second day focused on exercises that contribute to the feeling of the group - I in a group, and the group in me - as well as the work with partners led through a set dance combination. The participants were “bees in a hive” who constantly moved together through the space. The aim was to feel, without words, who and when takes the initiative and becomes the leader. The music that Vandekeybus chose for that exercise additionally motivated the participants to buzz through DKC Majdan. Vandekeybus pointed out that work on ensemble is of utmost importance, especially if the company wants to establish long and fruitful cooperation. The people in one company must see with invisible eyes, i.e., intuitively feel what is around them. Afterwards, the work focused on mastering a demanding dance combination with a lot of incorporated jumps. The focus was placed on changing partners during practice, and that each combination must be performed in different directions. That promotes flexibility and adaptability to any partner, as well as the feeling of space. The technique of the jumps was explained to the participants in great details. That helped artists of various dance levels perform the task.
To be among the ones chosen to participate at the two-days workshop led by the famous Belgic choreographer Wim Vandekeybus was a privilege and honour. This is one of the most beautiful presents that Bitef Festival, in cooperation with Stanica, gave to this city, to its local artists. The masterclass was free of charge for all the participants, and we know that it is almost unbelievable when it comes to great choreographers. This was a true refreshment, but also a motivation for our local scene to keep developing and exploring. All the participants of the workshop express their gratitude to Bitef and Stanica.
Impressions of the participants
Vladimir Čubrilo, contemporary dancer
An opportunity to participate in a masterclass led by Wim Vandekeybus himself is a rare one. We were lucky that Stanica, in cooperation with Bitef, organized a two-days masterclass. The energy, the information we received, and the work with Wim, open a totally different dimension withing a dancer. For only two days, we got so much material that can help us persist in exploring. I am grateful to the organization and to the one and only Wim Vandekeybus.
Ivana Iv Milovanović, performer and actress in DAH Theatre
I am a performer and an actress in performing arts. I work in a theatre which is not classical but involves a lot of physical theatre, and I found this workshop very useful. Wim Vandekeybus talked about things which are universal for all the performing arts, not only for dance. At the same time, it was physically useful as well, because DAH is currently working on a new performance which involves only physical theatre. I learned a lot about lifts, and I feel safe now to lift a person of seventy kilos. The workshop focused on jumps, and I could do that straight away. In this workshop, I managed to do some things I’ve never done before. The best part of it all was Wim Vandekeybus who is amazingly friendly, cooperative, and witty in his approach to work.
Branko Mitrović, Bitef Dance Company dancer
Working with Wim Vandekeybus was an amazing experience. The class was wonderfully structured, every part of it. He explained the exercises in detail, and had time for everyone, although the group was big. What was problematic was that it was a mixed-ability group in terms of dance experience, especially as the big part of the class was focused on exercises in partnership. The dynamics of lifts and the speed ask for a better physical shape and understanding of partner’s body.
Ana Obradović contemporary dancer
The workshop was excellent, the focus was on partnership sequences, work in group, and the use of voice for improvisations and expressions. The second day was more focused on technique and mastering of certain elements typical for this choreographer. We had a chance to experience his style, and I am grateful to the festival for this opportunity.
Miona Petrović, Bitef Dance Company dancer
I am honoured, happy and grateful for the opportunity to meet Wim Vandekeybus and participate in his masterclass; to feel his way of thinking, his process, and the way he prepares the body for new explorations, new creations. I enjoyed the fact that all of us were on different levels (dancers, performers), and that was a unique experience. As we had to master the steps very quickly, we had to follow the task but in relation with other bodies in order to be prepared so we could be efficient and complete the task. Another thing I liked is that he talked to us a lot and shared his experiences. He told us how he obtained material, and all the things that we, dancers, performers, actors, people on stage, should do to surprise ourselves and become more interesting for the audience. He told us that that is the way to push the borders and become better. My body is still pulsating, which is normal given the intensity of work with Mr. Vandekeybus, and I’m still excited because of the knowledge he shared with us. I’m still thinking a lot about it all. Also, I had a chance to see the performance Traces and it rounded off the impression. The very fact that he came to our country is amazing.
Đorđe Živadinović Grgur, actor
Working with Wim Vandekeybus was a truly wonderful experience, as it usually is with people who are successful and accomplished - simple, physically exhausting, but in a way light and fulfilling. It takes you back to the things in work you tend to forget, it reminds of physical but also essential principles and relationships that go from life to artistic work, and then back to life again.