|BODY a new dance theater work by Les Enfants
Terribles from The Netherlands, examines the use and abuse of the body with
traditional and modern dance, featuring a cast of three men and two women
dancers and two actresses. The piece is set to minimalist orchestral and
piano music by Belgian composer Wim Mertens, who is well-known for his collaborations
with Belgian theater director Jan Fabre. The work is choreographed by Erwin
Kokkelkoren and directed by Kokkelkoren and Bert Oele.
The style of the piece is detailed, precise, high-energy movement which
is structured and mapped, ranging from the intense to the anarchistic.
There is a scene in which a male dancer hangs for 15 minutes by his arms,
with the other performers witnessing. As his body trembles, the theme
of real versus artificial pain is explored.
The piece was developed by Kokkelkoren and Oele interviewing their ensemble
on issues of pain, death, loneliness and lovers, and gathering stories
on these themes. The cast's stories and anecdotes were used as starting
points for scenes. Each scene became a movement piece, since all the performers
were dancers. Imagery from their stories were captured in the piece, which
now includes such situations as a man being exposed on a balcony and a
woman being chased.
Erwin Kokkelkoren (choreographer) worked from 1985 to 1987 with the
well-known Dutch contemporary dance theatre Penta in Rotterdam. He starred
in five different productions in Rotterdam and toured throughout the Netherlands,
Germany, Belgium, Austria and France. He directed and performed 2 contemporary
dance pieces; 'Gedachtenval' in 1986 and 'Mannendans' in 1987. In 1989
he founded Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company, initially as a vehicle
through which to perform his own works. His dance creations with Les Enfants
Terribes are characterized by poetic but raw images, multimedia and unusual
music. His "Forgotten Faces and Future Lives" (Amsterdam, 2001)
was a performance work for eight dancers about basic instincts, with a
"manipulation of knives that makes my skin crawl" (De Volksrant).
"Chaos" (Amsterdam, 1995) was a performance work for one actor
and two dancers whch dealt with the liberation from suppressive social
structures. De Noord Hollandse Dagbladen described it as "full of
conflicts, emotion, humour and death." Kokkelkoren is also a prolific
actor, working in theater (mostly classics), TV dramas and films.
Les Enfants Terribles debuted in 1989 with "Ich Ewiges Kind,"
a story on the life and work of the painter Egon Schiele. By 1992 Les
Enfants Terribles were making waves through Dutch theater and Erwin Kokkelkoren's
partner, Bert Oele, joined the troupe as producer and manager. Now Kokkelkoren
and Oele are the permanent members of the company and additional cast
and crew are employed for each production. Dance, performance and imagery
are mixed in most productions.
This is the troupe's first dance work in the U.S., although it has performed
two plays previously at La MaMa. Enfants… made their American debut
at La MaMa in June, 1999 with "Tales of a Traveler," a monodrama
inspired by Simone de Beauvoir's existentialist novel, "All Men Are
Mortal." The play depicted a man's thoughts in the hour before his
500th birthday, when he has the option of dying or living another 500
years. The New York Times (D.J.R. Bruckner) reflected on how the protagonist,
played by writer/performer Kokkelkoren, was--after twenty generations
or so--"somewhat less than free to choose" his fate, citing
this as an underlying theme in de Beauvoir's novel. With the "unspoken
suggestion" that Mr. Kokkelkoren was speaking about AIDS, the message
of the play was described as plain: "get to know exactly who you
are because--this he does say--'death is the peak of being alone.'"
This was followed by "Kwame, The Ultimate Love Story" (La MaMa,
2001), written and performed by Kokkelkoren, directed by Bert Oele. The
play concerned the break up of a deep love affair and the conflicting
choices couples make in living with a life threatening disease.
Bert Oele (co-director) made a long-term career in psychiatric health
care before switching to a career in the theater. He wrote and directed
a number of short movies: "Deep Dream" (1970", "Self-portrait
I" (1970), "Tea Time" (1972), "Break" (1980)
and "Self-portrait II" 1991. Since 1992 he has been producer
and company manager for Les Enfants Terribles, where he has directed six
productions, including the two which have been presented to-date by La
Kokkelkoren and Oele are both fluent in English (which is common among
Dutch people) and enhanced their mastery of the English-speaking stage
by studying in New York acting conservatories. When there is text in their
American productions, it is in English.
"Body" is directed by Erwin Kokkelkoren and Bert Oele and choreographed
by Erwin Kokkelkoren. The performers are Vincent Verburg, Willem Aerts,
Jorge Arbert, Ina Stockem, Maaike van Dijk, Emma vd Mey and Cam Kornman.
Music is by Wim Mertens. Set design is by Lisa Lalieu. Costumes are by
Ferry van Slooten. Light design is by Jacques van Room. Technician is