ZOO/Thomas Hauert & Zefiro Torna [Brussels]




Riddle canons

The music ensemble Zefiro Torna and the contemporary dance company ZOO/Thomas Hauert join hands for a new performance, based on musical enigmas.

Zefiro Torna has a passion for riddle canons from the ars subtilior and Renaissance. The key to the riddle canon is hidden in cryptic indications, like e.g. Guillaume de Machaut’s famous Ma fin est mon commencement. It can take highly imaginative, emblematic and symbolic shapes, e.g. a labyrinth, Cordier’s compass, Vaet’s key and sword, Senfl and Danckert’s chessboard or Josquin’s dices.

The same theme and technique also inspired J.S. Bach in his composition for organ Ein kleines Harmonisches Labyrinth and contemporary artists including Jonathan Harvey, Heinz Holliger and Richard Rijnvos who compose ricercares, study the limits of certain instruments or build music boxes.

These enigmas can be considered as a metaphor of the human condition.  The labyrinth is an expression of existential questioning and has always been attractive to many cultures starting from the Ancient Greeks. Over the course of time it has had many different forms and meanings. E.g. in Christian religion (the context that early music, studied by Zefiro Torna, was written in), it represents the path towards ultimate deliverance along the temptations of life.  What could this quest mean today? How can we conciliate such a symbol, based on the perspective of one single "way out", with the contemporary relativistic philosophies?

For nearly ten years this theme has inspired ZOO’s work on movement. Thomas Hauert explores the mechanics of the body as a combined play of possibilities, directions and boundaries. One of the headlines in the company’s research consists in building complex systems that allow coordinating a group in movement. The dancers change direction, step back, again and again, in a quest that does not seem to have any sense or way out. Here the path they follow is much more important than the point of arrival. Each dancer draws a  track within an environment full of restrictions. But in spite of all the rules, that considerably determine all the movements, he still always maintains some freedom of choice. In Thomas Hauert’s work this research on the movement between freedom and restriction is applied simultaneously on all parts of the body, every moment and every direction.

Puzzled seems like a chain of enigmas: each time we solve the puzzle, we face a new one. Polyphonic voices and instrumental caccias accompany the dancers in their timeless never-ending quest.

concept Jurgen De Bruyn & Thomas Hauert
musical direction Jurgen De bruyn
direction Thomas Hauert
light design & video Jan Van Gijsel
choreography & dance Thomas Hauert, Martin Kilvady, Chrysa Parkinson, Zoë Poluch, Samantha Van Wissen, Mat Voorter
music Els Van Laethem, Cécile Kempenaers (voices), Els Janssens (alto), Jurgen De bruyn (lute), Kristien Ceuppens (oboe), Liam Fennely (viola da gamba), Wouter Koelewijn (organ), Prof. Dr. Katelijne Schiltz (research)
production ZOO & Zefiro Torna
co-production Basilica-Festival van Vlaanderen Tongeren, Festival van Vlaanderen Brugge
supported by the National Lottery

ZOO is supported by the Flemish Community, the Flemish Community Commission, Pro Helvetia (Fondation suisse pour la culture) & ‘Ein Kulturengagement des Lotterie-Fonds des Kantons Solothurn’

Zefiro Torna is supported by the Flemish Community