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Kwaad Bloed - Talk

don 21/05/2015 - 12:00 > 16:00

Kwaad bloed (bad blood) is the company centred on the choreographer Ugo Dehaes. Ugo is fascinated by the human body and by the person who inhabits that body. He initially studied the body as an object, in predominantly visual performances, but he later concentrated on the energy that can emerge from the body. In the course of time his focus has expanded to include the interaction between bodies and the capacity of groups to communicate emotions to an audience. Zooming out to a broader perspective also involved zooming in: who is the individual behind the dancer? And also: what are the intimate reasons why we dance and create performances?

Kwaad bloed stands for ‘pure’ dance. Its productions are kept deliberately sober. They focus on the power of dance and dancers, and not on the power of effects that other media can generate.

Kwaad bloed makes extreme but accessible dance productions. Extreme because each one develops just one single idea to the full, using only the absolute minimum of resources necessary. Accessible because each piece emerges out of the viewer’s perspective, but without falling into the trap of taking an easy approach or constant repetition. Ugo remains true to his artistic exigency and is dependable in his motives, but always takes the audience into account: after all, without them a performance simply does not exist. The work invites the viewer to use his imagination and to be amazed by what he sees, though in this regard he is not expected to have any specific previous knowledge.

Kwaad bloed was set up in 2000 and has thus now been in existence for 15 years. All its work has so far been project-based, with a new creation being presented every two years. As from 2015 the company is receiving operational support from the Ministry of the Flemish Community, and has an active administrative structure. In addition to the annual creation of new productions, Ugo’s repertoire from previous years will also be revived, so as to give productions a longer life.


Kwaad Bloed believes in co-working with organisations. Distribution is managed in strong collaboration with the artist agency Vincent Company. It is not just looking for opportunities where to play, but it is as well following the artistic story of the company and looking for long term relationships with organizers or producers. We found a strong partner in the Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek making use of their facilities: not only do we have our offices in their infrastructure, but is a back-up for us when it comes to rehearsal spaces. We can as well make use of their business, artistic and technical support. At artistic level we make co-productions with partners when it reinforces the story. In 2017 we are coproducing with fABULEUS a new creation, which will involve a group of youngsters. The core task of the fABULEUS company is working with youngsters. They take adolescents’ artistic abilities seriously and often carry out projects with them.

 Ugo Dehaes on intimacy in movement:

My progress as a choreographer began with a fascination with the human body: I wanted to show, manipulate and isolate it, distort it and make it unrecognisable. In Lijfstof (Body-Substance) we showed the body as a thing, a lump of flesh in a cardboard box. In ROEST (Rust) I tried to distort it, to manipulate it by means of a big metal machine. The notion of decline and age seeped into my work naturally. In Rozenblad (Rose Leaf) we transformed bodies into emerging plants or insects. In FORCES the body represented one of the four forces of nature.

A second series started with Couple-like, in which I no longer showed a body, but people, and how they dealt with being in a single space together. I started becoming increasingly amazed by the relations between people and even more by who the person behind the dancer is. To me, Couple-like, WOMEN, GIRLS and Grafted are all primarily about the dancers themselves. By working on an extremely physical basis, with lots of dance and strict precision, I try to get the dancers into such a state of concentration that they forget they are on stage, and in a certain way this makes them transparent: the audience is given a glimpse of each dancer’s personality. This fascination with people led me to work with very different individuals: someone I didn’t know at all (Keren Levi in Couple-like), ‘older’ dancers (WOMEN), young girls (GIRLS) and real couples (in life and/or in dance) (in Grafted).

This view of people and relationships gave rise to a third series that will have a powerful influence on my work in the years to come. I am extremely interested in the concept of intimacy: for years I have been zooming out, from an area of skin to a large group of people, which at the same time led to zooming in on who these people really are. Intimacy is also very closely linked to the reasons I create dance: the genuine choices I make, and the profound processes that lead to a production, are very closely associated with my personal life, and are often much too intimate to explain to just anyone. The relationship with my partner gave rise to the idea of Grafted, while having an older female friend led to WOMEN, and the fact that we did not have children was an element in the genesis of GIRLS, while my tremendous doubts about whether to study civil engineering played a part in FORCES, and so on. In the concept documents and in the productions that ultimately emerged, these minor and highly personal starting points are elevated to a universal level. The small becomes spectacular and recognisable, which makes my work more powerful.