Ultima Vez / Bruxelles / BE


In Traces, Wim Vandekeybus follows the traces he has left. He looks back on the intuitions from whence his search began: to the drama of impulses and instincts; to the game of energies and intensities. It is a search for traces of nature that the body has forgotten or repressed. How much nature still lives in human mankind? How much animal in the human body? What happens when at risk or in danger, when we have to take intuitive decisions to survive?

The performance was produced as part of the International Arts Festival Europalia 2019, whose guest of honour was Romania. In the overwhelming Romanian nature, with Europe’s last primeval forests, Vandekeybus searches for traces that are older than man and his memory. For ‘the inner story’, for the story that unfolds before or beyond language, and can only be told in the pulses of dance and music.

Ten dancers move to a soundtrack composed by Trixie Whitley, Shahzad Ismaily, Ben Perowsky and Daniel Mintseris, recorded with special guest Marc Ribot on guitar.

Performance for the spectators over 16 years of age!


Wim Vandekeybus

Wim Vandekeybus (1963) is a choreographer, dancer, filmmaker and photographer. He founded his dance company Ultima Vez in the mid-eighties. He made a remarkably artistic debut with his performance What the body does not remember (1987). The performance won a Bessie, an award granted for groundbreaking work. His second performance Les porteuses de mauvaises nouvelles (1989) was also honoured with a Bessie Award. In his unique style, Vandekeybus has created milestones in the development of modern dance with his performances over the last few decades, at home and abroad.

Vandekeybus has created a language of movement wherein he juxtaposes intuition, impulse and instinct with energy, risk and danger, which exemplifies a dramatic Weltanschauung, full of dynamics and conflict, through the medium of dance. A central focus in his work is the irreconcilable conflict between body and mind, feeling and intellect, man and woman, nature and culture, man and animal, group and individual, illusion and reality, etc. Vandekeybus’s work is
characterised by almost obsessive reiterations of one single concern: how man responds to extreme situations. In this context, he attaches special importance to what he refers to as ‘the moment of catastrophe’ – which ironically does not preclude his inclusion of humour, playfulness and even a certain jocular lightheartedness in his work.

He worked as an invited choreographer at the Batsheva Dance Company in Israel (1996) and at the Spanish company Compania Nacional de Danza. At the invitation of the Flemish production house Victoria, he participates in the Nightshade project (2006), created choreography for Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (2002), between 1993 and 1999 he worked as an ‘artist in residence’ at the Royal Flemish Theatre KVS. He has also created short films for use in various performances – some of which may be regarded as standalone works in their own right, such as Blush (2004) and Monkey Sandwich (2013). His very first feature film is Galloping Mind (2015). Some of his performances were inspired by the writings of Paul Bowles, Milorad Pavic, Julió Cortázar, Djuna Barnes. His recent work such as Mockumentary of a Contemporary Saviour and TrapTown, reveal his overarching disquiet about the current political state of global affairs.


Ultima Vez

The performances by Wim Vandekeybus’s company take the form of associative montages with a penchant for criss-crossing borderlines between disciplines that at the same time lose nothing of their strong-rooted autonomy in the process. Their dances are rendered in a powerfully theatrical manner. (Live) music and video/film are not only integral to their mode of theatrical expression, but more often than not, are actually the prime movers underlying the performances.

In the performances of their early period, text and story were totally subordinate to the bodies and their impulsive movements, scattered throughout the narrative as fragmentary material. In the course of the years, they developed a stronger narrative style that presents coherent fables with a
broader scope, often revolving around community, individuals and conflict. Their performances represent a transition from tensions between bodies at a purely physical level, to more complex tensions as between groups, and as between groups and individuals. They re-presented existing tragedies by Jan Decorte and Euripides, and also collaborated with contemporary authors such as Bart Meuleman, Peter Verhelst and Pieter de Buysser.

They has collaborated in the past with composers and performers such as Thierry De Mey, Peter Vermeersch, David Byrne, David Eugene Edwards, Arno, Charo Calvo, Mauro, Marc Ribot, Trixie Whitley, Eavesdropper, George Van Dam, as well as with filmmakers and visual artists (Walter Verdin, Octavio Iturbe, etc.). Between 1985 and 1987, they toured the world for the first time with the play named The Power of Theatrical Madness by Jan Fabre, one of the greatest Flemish directors. Later, Fabre wrote and directed a solo play for the already famous Vandekeybus in 1997.

Their performances are and remain rooted the vital energy of the body itself. This is a realm in which Vandekeybus has been able to create a rich and diverse oeuvre that is acclaimed not only at home, but internationally as well.




Direction, choreography: Wim Vandekeybus
Created with and performed by: Alexandros Anastasiadis, Borna Babić, Maureen Bator, Davide Belotti, Pieter Desmet, Maria Kolegova, Kit King, Anna Karenina Lambrechts, Magdalena Oettl, Mufutau Yusuf, Pjotr Nuyts, Changmin Lee, Paola Taddeo
Music composed and recorded by: Trixie Whitley, Shahzad Ismaily, Ben Perowsky, Daniel Mintseris
Special guest on guitar: Marc Ribot
Movement assistant: German Jauregui, Iñaki Azpillaga, Flavio D’Andrea
Storyline: Wim Vandekeybus
Dramaturgy: Erwin Jans
Costume design: Isabelle Lhoas
Assisted by: Isabelle De Cannière
Scenography: Wim Vandekeybus, Tom de With
Stage management: Pepijn Mesure
Sound engineer: Schröder
Light design: Wim Vandekeybus, Francis Gahide
Light on tour: Benjamin Verbrugge
Bear costume design: Jan Maillard
Set paintings: Patrick (Bob) Vantricht
Production: Ultima Vez


Co-production: Europalia Romania, Concertgebouw Bruges, KVS Brussels and La Rose des Vents Villeneuve d’Ascq
With the support of: Tax Shelter measure of the Belgian Federal Government, Casa Kafka Pictures Tax Shelter empowered by Belfius. Ultima Vez is supported by the Flemish Authorities & the Flemish Community Commission of the Brussels Capital Region.


Duration: 1 h 40 min., without interval
Premiere: 8th of December, 2019.