SPRING Performing Arts Festival
20-29 May 2021 UTRECHT

Podcast series SPRING in het diepe!


As from today five weeks long we will share a podcast every friday that is specially made for SPRING; the ultimate anticipatory fun for the festival!

Always wondered how the mind of an artist works? Dive in at the deep end with our podcast SPRING in het diepe. A digital, but very intimate exploration of the weird and wonderful ways of thinking of the artists featured at SPRING. Immerse yourself in their world.

In collaboration with the online art magazine Mister Motley, art journalist Luuk Heezen talks to Dries Verhoeven (Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid), Ho Tzu Nyen (R is for Resonance), Florentina Holzinger (TANZ), Marte Boneschansker (BLOOS de mannen) and Julian Hetzel (Mount Average). What fascinations lie at the bottom their work? How did their show take shape? Which scene cost the most blood, sweat and tears?

Lean back and catch the wave of these leading creatives’ thoughts. An in-depth conversation that is interesting to follow either before or after watching the show.

Click here for the podcasts.

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SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2021 is calling (emerging) artists and students: makers, choreographers, scenographers, audio storytellers, dramaturgs, dancers, actors, performers, writers, curators, researchers and political engagers who would love to learn more during the Masterclasses and Open Programmes of SPRING Academy 2021. Meet other (young) artists, as well as professional artists that are performing at SPRING this year.

This year we offer you three open call programmes:

The application deadline is Monday, April 26, 2021. You can visit the SPRING Academy page to discover more information about our programmes. We’re so excited to welcome you all back to an exciting and inspiring edition at Het Huis Utrecht!

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First names SPRING 2021 announcement


SPRING believes in the magic of live encounters between the artist and the audience. That’s why we will do everything we can to make this possible. During SPRING Performing Arts Festival (international) artists will experiment with new art forms and ways to connect with the audience. We will go live in theaters and in the public space with intimate one-on-one experiences, installations and special setups in theaters. Performers will adjust their work to continuous experiences, specially for SPRING there will be an intimate one-on-one meeting and there will be a sensory experience in a single person cocoon. We can announce the first names…

During SPRING the long awaited follow-up BLOOS de mannen will go into premiere. Marte Boneschansker had conversations with men between 10 and 100 years old about intimacy, sensuality and desire. Lying in a single person cocoon which moves, turns and shakes you will listen to their exiting stories.
Another intimate experience will be Motus Mori: Meeting the archive from choreographer Katja Heitmann. Herewith Heitmann builds an archive of the human movement, for which already more than 700 people donated their moves. Specially for SPRING, Heitmann and her dansers will look for personal encounters within this archive. In a unique one-on-one meeting the danser will work with your movements.

Dries Verhoeven is asking himself in Broeders verheft u ter vrijheid what our working body is meant for these days. With a group of Bulgarian performers who have experience as migration workers, he creates a requiem for the labouring human body. The stage of the Stadsschouwburg serves as a shop floor that is home to a live installation for eight hours a day. Julian Hetzel will also take us on a factory visit during the performative parcour Mount Average, where he will confront us with our own ideologies. Statues of rulers, dictators and tirans will be ground to pulp and given a new meaningful interpretation.

Lastly, the postponed performances of Spectrum by Schweigman&, graphic designer Cocky Eek, light artist Matthijs Munnik and composer Yannis Kyriakides can be visited at the festival. 

The ticket sale for SPRING Performing Arts Festival will start on Friday 16 April at 10.00 AM.


Photo: Motus Mori: meeting the archive © Jostijn Ligtvoet

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SPRING in 2021


SPRING believes in the magic of live encounters between the artist and the audience. That’s why we will do everything we can to make this possible. During SPRING Performing Arts Festival (international) artists will experiment with new art forms and ways to connect with the audience. 

From 16 till 19 September 2021 we will present the project ARK Utrecht in the entire city. Information will follow later.

SPRING in Autumn 2021 will take place between 27 and 31 October 2021. We're working on the programme for SPRING in Autumn. 

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Eerste namen SPRING 2021 bekend First names SPRING 2021 announcement

Conneting with the audience in times of corona


SPRING is looking for volunteers!


Do you want to be involved behind the scenes of an international festival and experience the thrilling, artistic ambiance? Sign up as a volunteer of the SPRING Performing Arts Festival!

With lots of new energy and enthusiasm we already started with the organization of the SPRING that takes place from 20 may until 29 may 2021, and we can already let you know that we have very exciting performances planned. However, we cannot do these things all by ourselves. So, we can use your help! No need for experience, but your commitment and enthusiasm are more than welcome, so we can make this years festival successful.

Take a look at the different functions down below. If you’re unable to decide which position appeals to you the most, we’ll gladly look for the most suitable position together.

  • Host(ess)                           you are helpful, friendly and representative
  • Cashier                              receives visitors from SPRING and helps them with their tickets
  • SPRING Reporter               photograph, film or write about everything that SPRING has to offer
  • SPRING Flex team              you like unexpected services with varied jobs
  • Crew catering                     awaken your inner chef and prepare the best lunches

What does SPRING offer you?
With this volunteerjob you gain a fun, educational work experience, you will be part of a close team and will get the chance to build up a relevant network.

In addition we offer you:

  • A real SPRING t-shirt and festival pass
  • Matching training depending on your position
  • Lunch / dinner depending on your shift
  • Free ticket per worked shift for performances (based on availability)

What do we ask of you?

Your commitment, enthusiasm and reliability are very important to make it a successful festival. Besides, it is very important you adhere to the corona measures as drawn up by the Dutch government. Depending on your availability and functions we ask you to work at least 4 shifts. A shift lasts on average between 4 and 6 hours.

How do you sign up?

  1. You can register via festivalroosters with your name, phone number and favorite function. The form is partly in Dutch, if you need help filling it in, please let us know.
  2. We’ll invite you to an introductory meeting. During this conversation we’ll find out which position fits you best and we’ll give you all the information you need to get started as a volunteer. Welcome to the team!
  3. We will keep you informed by e-mail of important information and practical matters, such as the volunteer meeting and your schedule.

We’ll be happy to answer them. Send an email to vrijwilligers@springutrecht.nl

See you soon at SPRING!


Volunteer coordinator SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2021

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A little bit more patience...


Lately, we've been very busy planning the performances from domestic and foreign performers. We anticipate to the current corona measures, but ofcourse we'd love to offer as many magnificent performances as possible. We will announce the first names shortly. The ticket sale will start approximately half April.

Follow us on the socials and keep an eye on the website for the latest updates! 


Image: Message from quarantine by Ho Tzu Nyen, photo Anna van Kooij

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From Standplaats Utrecht to Standplaats Midden


After two years of working, rehearsing, developing, trying out, innovating at the great Fort Blauwkapel, the Standplaats Utrecht platform ends. The theater makers and performing artists associated with this place for talent development will continue. Iona&rineke and Julian Hetzel receive a two-year subsidy from the Gemeente Utrecht.

Under the name Standplaats Midden, the platform is developing into a regional network organization of six cultural institutions: Het Huis Utrecht, Filiaal theatermakers, SPRING, Gaudeamus, De Coöperatie and Holland Opera. Talent development of young and mid-career makers from different disciplines (theater, dance, performance and music) is central. The organization is developing further this season. We'll let you know!


Photo: Sjoerd Derine

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Performances December and January cancelled


Last night Prime Minister Rutte announced a new lockdown until January 19. Unfortunately, therefore, the performances Spectrum by Schweigman & (December 16-20), Cow is a cow is a cow by Abhishek Thapar (December 17 and 18) and Mount Average by Julian Hetzel (January 8-10) have been cancelled. If you have tickets, we will contact you soon.

We expect to be able to present the series of Spectrum performances at the end of February, if the measures allow. As soon as we know the exact dates, we will inform the ticket buyers. In addition, we are investigating whether we can move the performances Cow is a cow is a cow and Mount Average to SPRING Performing Arts Festival that will take place from 20-29 May 2021.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and hope to see you again in the new year!


Photo: Noor van der Wal

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We need volunteers at Spectrum!


After we had to cancel Spectrum during SPRING in Autumn XXXL, we started looking for replacement data together with Schweigman&. And we have found it! Between November 25th and December 20th we’ll present this performative light installation again at the Loods at Locomotiefstraat 8, and for this we need your help! Are you available to help us out? We look forward to hearing from you!


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Rainer Hofmann is leaving SPRING


Artistic Director Rainer Hofmann will leave SPRING in summer 2021. He will take the position of head of dramaturgy at Kunstfestspiele Herrenhausen in Hannover.

Rainer Hofmann leaves after more than 10 years as director at SPRING and Huis en Festival a/d Werf. Hofmann began in 2010 as artistic director at Huis en Festival a/d Werf where he shaped the last two editions of the festival. In 2013 Festival a/d Werf merged with Springdance Festival and Hofmann became artistic director of the new SPRING Performing Arts Festival. He gave SPRING a strong signature by putting the focus on innovation in contemporary performing arts and by programming artists who work on politically relevant topics.

Tanja Mlaker, head of the Supervisory Board of Stichting SPRING about the leave of Rainer Hofmann: „The board is very grateful to Rainer Hofmann for his many years of commitment. He connected many ground-breaking artists with the festival and has expanded its international networks and reputation. With his visionary and inspired leadership, he strengthened the position of SPRING, which had received praising evaluations for its subsidy plan for the years 2021 – 2024.”

Rainer Hofmann: „After more than 10 years at SPRING and Huis en Festival a/d Werf, it was time for me to find a new position. The years in Utrecht have been (and still are) rewarding, often challenging, sometimes hard, always exciting. I could work with a great team and together we developed SPRING into a leading festival for contemporary performing arts. This was possible only with the outstanding artists, who we could present in Utrecht. I am looking forward to my last edition of SPRING in 2021 and to a new adventure at Kunstfestspiele Herrenhausen in Hannover.“

In 2021, Stichting SPRING plans two festivals: SPRING Performing Arts Festival in May and SPRING in Autumn in autumn.


Photo © Anna van Kooij

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Eigentijdse intimiteit


This blog is only available in Dutch.

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Vacature Leden Raad van Toezicht


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Overweldigend lichttheater. Over de voorstelling Spectrum


This article is only available in Dutch.

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SPRING in Autumn XXXL unfortunately canceled


The news was already coming and we are very sad to announce; unfortunately we have to pull the plug on the seventh day of the SPRING festival in Autumn XXXL, which would last 19 days this year. We hope that the stricter measures will improve the situation. We sympathize with the artists whose work we cannot show, the enthusiastic public that we are not allowed to receive and our own employees, freelancers and volunteers who have worked so hard on this special edition. We are also proud that we were able to show a wonderful first weekend with performances by Kris Verdonck, Benjamin Kahn and Genevieve Murphy, among others.

The performances of Spectrum van Schweigman& for wednesday 4 November will go on as planned. We try to move the further series of performances by Schweigman& to later this year. For the performances Mount Average by Julian Hetzel, Cow is a cow is a cow by Abhishek Thapar and Womb m/f/x by Ulrike Quade Company, we will search for alternative dates during the coming months. Unfortunately, we have to cancel all other performances definitively. Visitors will be informed by e-mail. It may take a while for us to process everything, so we ask for your patience.

We are saddened but also resilient. We continue to work on our plans for 2021 and hope to meet you again!

Many greetings,


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Postmodernisme op het podium. Over ‘Sorry, but I feel slightly disidentified...’ van Benjamin Kahn


This article is only available in Dutch.

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De zin van het leven. Over de minimalistische schoonheid van Exit van Kris Verdonck


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Creating Space and Dismantling Hierarchy: Radouan Mriziga’s 7


By Morgan Amonett, for the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus - USA), November 4 2019

Radouan Mriziga’s 7 is the final installment in a trilogy exploring the relationship between the human body and the spaces it constructs and occupies. I was fortunate to speak remotely with Mriziga about his background, the concepts behind the trilogy, and plans for the future.

Growing up in Marrakesh, Mriziga was exposed to some of the most stunning physical spaces humans have created. A traditional art education, centered around institutional instruction, was not available. Instead, the manifestations of ancient geometry and magnificent architecture, alongside street art, and hip-hop culture informed his artistic tastes, as did sports, and his inclinations toward mathematics. When he finally studied dance, the inspiration of these rich, organic, and collectively available sources of information continued to impact his work.
            Mriziga frequently referred to the hierarchy of relationships between the intellect, the body, and the spirit. The “western” inclination is, and has been for many centuries, to prize the intellect over the body and the spirit. In contrast, he emphasizes the fallibility of this concept, arguing that intellect and body exist horizontally: that is, (mostly) level with one another. For him, these elements are not one and the same; within an artistic and abstract context, he allows for variation and emphasizes emotional reactions to and intuitive participation with his work; and, by extension, to other works of art.
            Acting in toxic accordance with this concept, he says, is another hierarchy: that which places more value on certain methods of communicating and storing knowledge than others. Predictably, the most highly valued methods are the “western” ones; anything written or empirical, under this system of classification, is deemed inherently more valid than information communicated in other ways. This scale of assigned acceptability marginalizes cultures and people who store, communicate, and discuss knowledge in other ways. In limiting the spread and consumption of information in this way, he notes, we confine ourselves to certain methods and dimensions of expression and lose out on a great deal of learning.

The Trilogy: 55/3600/7
In these three pieces, Mriziga confronts these concepts among others, challenging audiences to reconsider the mind/body/spirit hierarchy and work to accept new ways in which we can communicate and apply knowledge. In 55, the first installment in the trilogy, he constructs a two-dimensional space using chalk and tape; the measurements for this space are both defined and given by the body and its movement. In this work, he both defines the physical with respect to what it can create and defines the creation in terms of the physical; the body constructs the space, so the space is constructed for that body. In 3600, he broadens both the conceptual and physical scope of his work; the construction in this piece yields a three-dimensional product.

7 is simultaneously the most complex and the most accessible. It adds both time and imagination to the other three dimensions, inviting and requiring the audience’s direct engagement. Mriziga noted that the space constructed in 7 will be shaped by the space already occupied by the audience. Influenced by the seven wonders of the ancient world, he says that participants in the piece will hold those monuments in their imaginations while not actually seeing them represented on stage. In this way, the space created is one that will take shape collectively.

Plans for the Future
In his new project, he plans to challenge the creation of the “western” canon by exploring the “epistemologies and mythologies of the Tamazigh, the indigenous population of Northern Africa.” Though their culture influenced other, more recognized societies in the ancient Mediterranean significantly, these people have been largely ignored by scholars of the region. He explores and criticizes the reasons for this neglect in his new work, again challenging the construct of knowledge in “the west” and presenting a more thorough history of a complex and influential culture with a different way of communicating information.

Radouan Mriziga (1985) is a choreographer and dancer from Morocco, currently living and working in Brussels. After studying dance in Morocco, Tunisia and France, Radouan Mriziga graduated from PARTS in Brussels. Fairly quickly he began to focus on his own work, creating his first solo, 55, followed by the group piece 3600 in 2016, and in 2017 another group piece called 7. His works have been touring in major festivals and theatres worldwide. His performances explore the relationship between movement, construction and composition. Focusing on human beings as the makers of their surroundings, Mriziga’s choreographies forge links between the body in motion and the expression of form in everyday materials and the architecture of our built environment. Mriziga is an artist-in-residence at Moussem Nomadic Arts Centre, and between 2017-2021 at the Kaaitheater (Brussels).

7 is shown during SPRING in Autumn XXXL,  1 November at 15:00 and 19:00 at Werkspoorfabriek. You can buy tickets here.


Picture: Bea Borgers

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"Het einde van de mensheid nadert en dat is oke"


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Reserve a seat at our installations


For our special installations, you now have to reserve a timeslot. You can check out all the interesting installations of SPRING in Autumn XXXL and book your spot now. 

R for Resonance: What unites the region Southeast Asia? Embraced by the warm sounds of a gong, an instrument that resonated throughout the region’s 3000 year history, you become part of a visual storm of objects in this VR installation. More information & reservation

Haptic Installation: In a small, darkened room, you experience this video installation with your eyes closed. Behind your eyelids you begin to detect lines, in black and white, in colour. Did you see light in the darkness? More information & reservation

MASS #2: The installation MASS #2 shows hundreds of thousands of graphite-grey pebbles slowly sliding alongside each other. In two white containers this mass, heavy yet velvety soft, forms slow moving landscapes. MASS #2 demonstrates the power of nature and shows us just how insignificant humans are. More information & reservation

BRASS: Suspended inside a darkened room are three sousaphones that appear to be playing all by themselves. You hear compositions by Erik Satie, who is sometimes called the composer of revolutionary simplicity, and fragments from an animated film from Japan. But while this orchestra may be completely devoid of humans, it does have human characteristics. There’s breathing, blowing, rehearsing and warming up. More information & reservation

HONGER: Last May, Dood Paard was to play HONGER (HUNGER) in a glass greenhouse in Utrecht Overvecht during the SPRING Performing Arts Festival. Inspired by HONGER, Manja Topper and Julian Maiwald took photos during wanderings through Utrecht and Amsterdam that depict different aspects of hunger. More information (reservation not required).

This is for everyone: The world consists of billions of individuals. Together they form communities, cities and countries. The German artist Marc von Henning makes a video installation for everyone. Take your foot off the gas, step out of your busy life and read this poem, one sentence at a time. More information (reservation not required).

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SPRING in Autumn XXXL continues with modified programme


The exceptional edition of SPRING in Autumn, titled SPRING in Autumn XXXL - Extended, Extraordinary, Exhilarating. Live., continues. As a result of the tightened corona measures that have been in place since 14 October, we have, in close contact with artists and venues, examined which performances could still be presented, possibly in an adapted version. SPRING believes it is important to continue to present art even in difficult times. Art is an essential part of our society. As long as it is possible in a safe way, we want to keep presenting performances that can touch us, move us, make us think and give us a sense of community. Of course we strictly adhere to the safety regulations in the modified program.

Stadsschouwburg Utrecht will be closed in the coming weeks. We have found another location for some of the performances that were programmed in the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

  • The opening performance Exit by Kris Verdonck and “Sorry… but I feel slightly disidentified” by Benjamin Kahn can be seen on the original dates in TivoliVredenburg
  • The world premiere of I Don't Want To Be An Individual All On My Own by Genevieve Murphy will now take place on October 31 and November 1 in TivoliVredenburg
  • 7 by Radouan Mriziga has been moved to November 1 at the Werkspoorfabriek
  • A Cow is a cow is a cow by Abhishek Thapar is moved to 12 and 13 November at Het Huis

Unfortunately, as a result of the tightened measures, we also have to cancel a few performances: Ensaio para uma Cartografia by Mónica Calle, _APOLOGY: DENIED_ by SETUP and My shadow used to have a density by Francesca Lazzeri. Relay of Ula Sickle also cannot take place.We hope we are able to present those performances in 2021.

The visitors are informed about the changes to the program.

Picture: by Radouan Mriziga (Marc Domage)

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"De muur tussen het theater en de straat moet verdwijnen" - in gesprek met Julian Hetzel


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"Mijn werk gaat niet over mij" - in gesprek met Genevieve Murphy


This article is only available in Dutch. 

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Join the SPRING crew!


With great pleasure we’re organizing a expanded version of SPRING in Autumn this year and we need your help! Are you ready to be part of an international festival that will take place from October 28 till November 15 2020 and experience the real festival feeling? Together with other volunteers you’ll play an indispensable role in turning this edition into a great success! No need for experience, with a healthy dose of enthusiasm and commitment you’re more than welcome!



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Update corona measures


Starting October 14th, stricter corona measures from the national government and RIVM are in place. Among other rules, the maximum number of 30 visitors now applies to all rooms. We are looking into the further consequences of the measures for SPRING in Autumn XXXL. We are trying to make as many performances and installations possible as we can. Naturally, we believe the safety and health of our public, the makers and employees is the most important thing and we strictly adhere to the safety regulations. We will keep you informed.

Stay healthy, be kind to one another, and hopefully see you soon!


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Sensorial surprises in Hiroaki Umeda’s work


Hiroaki Umeda’s work is all about haptic experience, or sensorial observations through touch. But Umeda’s aim is to widen the scope of the concept, which leads to some surprising performative installations, such as Haptic Installation which can be seen at SPRING in Autumn XXXL. 

Hiroaki Umeda, born in Tokyo in 1977, studied photography at Tokyo’s Nihon University. However, he didn’t stay there for very long, as he tells Performing Arts Network Japan: “I ended up quitting it after about a year. It seemed to me that when I was photographing (as the photographer) it was necessary for me to step back from the surroundings and try to become objective, which wasn’t interesting for me. I was wondering if there wasn’t a way I could make it a more real-time form of expression (of more direct involvement), but those efforts didn’t lead to much. So, I began looking for another form of expression and that is when I discovered that there was this thing called dance and decided to give it a try.” When Umeda was about 20 years old, he started taking all kinds of dance classes. He started creating pieces that incorporated different disciplines by combining his various professional fields. His main focus became: giving people unfamiliar sensorial experiences. Now he works as a choreographer, dancer, composer, lighting designer, scenographer and visual artist. His subtle works that move spectators both visually and physically, have travelled the world and received universal praise. 

As an artist and choreographer, Umeda doesn’t differentiate between human bodies and other objects or materials. This enables him to create choreographies based on auditive, visual or cognitive stimuli, or, as he puts it himself: ‘’I believe that technology is a means of accessing the world at different scales. And for me, choreography and dance are not exclusively for human bodies. What fascinates me in choreography is that it realizes and embodies the world that can only be created as a result of existence of movements. By collaborating with science and computer technology, I would like to bring a different definition of choreography.”

Haptic Installation, which was created in 2010, is a continuation of Umeda’s earlier work Haptic (2008). Which, in turn, was based on Umeda’s idea that colours can be considered a type of haptic stimuli. He researched this idea in Haptic by peopling the stage with extreme shadows. In Haptic Installation Umeda continues his line of thinking, delving into the possibility to observe light and colours with closed eyes. 

When you close your eyes, normally speaking, the world turns pitch black. In Haptic Installation the audience is led into a small darkened space to ‘watch’ a video installation with closed eyes. It soon becomes clear that even with our eyes closed, we can still observe lines, colours and movement. A strange realisation, confusing to spectators, because what is observed hardly seems to gel with the experience. In a similar response to sneezing as a result of looking into a bright light, here, the body physically responds to the visual impulses. Meanwhile, visitors are listening to electronic sounds through their headphones. Allow yourself to be taken on this journey and experience light and darkness. 

Catch the Haptic Installation during SPRING in Autumn XXXL from 7 – 10 November at Theater Kikker. For further information, click here

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Critical reflections in the work of Abhishek Thapar


By Merel Eigenhuis

Abhishek Thapar is a theatre maker, performer, puppeteer and teacher from India. In this conversation, we talk about his latest performance Cow is a Cow is a Cow, his background, his inspirations and the critical reflections in his work.

It has been quite a journey for you, professionally as well as personally, to build a career as a theatre maker in the Netherlands. What motivated you to become a theatre maker?
I’ve always had a desire to create, since childhood, and went from being an actor/performer during my bachelor's degree to working professionally as a theatre director, writer, puppeteer, and performer in various projects. I was fascinated by the creation process, which led me to study 'creating theatre and performance' at London International School of Performing Arts, a physical theatre programme based on Jacques Lecoq's pedagogical tools and methods. Since then, I have been trying to develop concepts and formulate ideas, to actualize them in time and space, and share them with an audience. 
I moved to the Netherlands in 2015 to pursue a master's programme at DAS Theatre, Amsterdam. I already had 7 - 8 years of experience in making theatre and performances in India and wanted to take some time away from the production process to examine my tools and fascinations and redefine my voice as an artist. I wanted to examine the role and function of theatre in today's rapidly changing society. I believe a theatrical space has the power to move mountains, and to move the spectators present inside that space. But it also has the power to shift micro thoughts, momentary perceptions, to offer the experience of something unfathomable. 
My work dives into the complexity of narratives. It ruptures pre-conceived notions of identity politics, historical narratives, religious-political ideologies, migration discourse and environmental issues. As a theatre/performance maker, I engage my audience into a critical discourse on current issues in our globalized world. Through my work I seek to create a state of ‘uncertainty’, from which newer thoughts or other perspectives can emerge. It is my way of enabling the audience to re-engage with the world through a different lens. 

What inspired you to create the performance Cow is a Cow is a Cow? 
It started in 2007, when I was pursuing a postgraduate programme in marketing and entrepreneurship at a business school in Pune, India. I had the idea of starting a business in cow-based products. Although I never pursued it, the thought stayed in my peripheral thinking. That was the seed. But also, I felt I had to deal with the way the political and social landscape has emerged in the last decade or so, as an artist and as an entrepreneur.

The performance deals with the economic value of the cow, which in India is seen as a sacred animal. What would be the Dutch equivalent of the holy cow – what is seen as ‘holy’ here?
Today, I happened to stumble across a video from the Rijksmuseum on the internet titled 'The Holy Cow' (with the hashtag: #Rijksmuseumunlocked). October 4 was world animal day and the Rijksmuseum did a video tour with a special focus on cows in 16th - 18th century painting. During the tour, the curator kept repeating: 'The cow is perhaps not only a symbol of The Netherlands, it more or less becomes the Netherlands'. Although I would disagree with the phrase and question the title of the video, it got me thinking about what 'holy' stands for, and its association with cows. It seems to surpass a specific geographical landscape and perhaps has a wider universal resonance. Is it the abundance of resources from the cow that gives it its status of holiness? Have cows always been holy? Or is it just an expression (Holy Cow!)? 

If I were to think about what is holy here, many different associations come up. Once I cycled on the Afsluitdijk, and that was when I experienced the sacredness of the ‘dijken’. I realised how important they are in protecting the Netherlands from the sea. 

Would you like to perform this show to Indian audiences/in an Indian context? Why (not)?
I would, absolutely. I believe it digs into certain narratives and ideological discourses which are crucial to the political and social landscape emerging in India at the moment. I’d like to reach out to the Indian diasporic community here in the Netherlands and create a space for open discussions and critical reflections through my work. 

What is the role of food in the performance? 
That's a surprise!

Thanks, Abhishek!

Cow is a Cow is a Cow will be playing on 17 and 18 December, 18:00 at Stadsschouwburg Utrecht. Click here for tickets.


Image credit: Karin van de Wiel

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New narratives in the work of Ulrike Quade Company


By Merel Eigenhuis

During the rehearsals for Womb m/f/x (which will premiere at SPRING in Autumn XXXL), director Ulrike Quade has found the time to discuss her latest work with us from her rehearsal studio.
Hi Ulrike! Could you tell me how you became a theatre maker, and where your fascination for puppets comes from?
I was a student at the HKU acting school in Utrecht. And I found out I had a way of creating images that was unique to me. So my development into a visual maker, with puppets as a component, grew from there. As part of my education I went to Japan and did an internship with the Japanese theatre maker Hoichi Okamoto, where I learnt to make dolls and perform with them. And while in Japan, I learnt a lot about the different forms of theatre in Japan, such as No, Kabuki and Bunraku theatre. The Japanese dramatic genres stretch across a wide range and have been an inspiration to me in many aspects ever since. 

Have you ever performed one of your own shows there?
No, not yet. I did go on tour with Hoichi Okamoto, but I haven’t presented any of my own shows over there. It’s definitely on my bucket list, though!
You are currently in the process of creating Womb m/f/x. What inspired you to make this work?  
There were lots of different sources. The idea started from the ancient Egyptian myth of Isis, Osiris and Seth, and we linked it with another subject: the desire to have children. The myth goes like this: the god Osiris is cut into 14 pieces by his brother Seth. Isis, his wife, tries to gather the pieces, but she can find only 13 of them. The 14th part, his penis, is lost. Isis puts the 13 pieces together and uses her own thumb to impregnate herself. This myth led to a much wider research into what it means to want to have children.

And then there’s Corona, which also plays a huge part in the development of the piece: after we had finished the first rehearsal period, the virus appeared. It made us decide to capture the entire myth on film, working with The Transketeers, an audio-visual collective consisting of three transmen. We turned our entire planning on its head and during the summer we filmed the story of Isis, Osiris and Seth up to when Horus (the new human) is conceived.

And then it also became a very intimate collaboration content-wise with The Transketeers, because their personal stories were gradually woven into the fabric of the show. It highlighted all kinds of different aspects to the subject matter. In 2014, for instance, the law regarding the sterilization of transmen was changed. It means transmen are no longer legally obliged to undergo sterilization. So transmen have the possibility to bear children as males, or however they choose to identify. Until 2014 this was legally impossible. When, in our case, the Netherlands is one of the most open-minded places to live. The three performers embody these stories, but they are and will stay the personal stories of The Transketeers. 

The three performers you just mentioned each have a background in a different art discipline. What is it like collaborating with all these different artists?  
It’s gone really, really well. I’m used to working with different disciplines and it doesn’t always go so well. Sometimes it can be hard for people to switch between disciplines. In this case, we took our time. Our filmmakers aren’t purely there to make a documentary film, but they’re creating dramatized visual scenes. One of our performers, Gabriel Casanova Miralda, is a screen actor but he’s also a musician, and the other performer, Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti, is a mime but also a singer, and the third is Gil ‘The Grid’ Gomes Leal [known in the Netherlands as a contestant in Holland’s Got Talent, ed.], is a dancer who also works with text. Limits are not our starting point. We are very fluid in our process, and that’s what the subject matter demands as well. 

How do you as a director deal with all these different disciplines?  
In this case, the biggest question, because of Corona, is: how to balance the live aspect and the recorded aspect. We recorded a number of things, which helped us out enormously. The form we’ve ended up with was born of necessity, but in the end, it was only right to do it this way. Now the question is: how to place this ‘live’ in a space? I have some idea about it, but for the moment, this is our biggest challenge. 

Your website tells us innovation is an important theme for you. How does the show reflect this? 
Innovation is present in different ways in this show. First of all: we wanted to create a retelling of the myth. And it was clear that if we wanted to retell the myth today, we couldn’t stick to just one narrative. Often in theatre there’s an author who writes the story, so there’s this one narrative, born from a single mind. That’s a limited narrative. We’re trying to innovate on this level, too, with the genderfluid theme, but also with the central question we’re asking in Womb m/f/x, which is: what exactly is this desire to have children? Also, we’re thinking in creative ways about the space we’re in. It doesn’t mean I want to leave the theatre space, but I think that after Corona, we’ll have to reconsider the digital space, and how it relates to physical space. These times demand that we focus on innovation, more so than ever before.

Thank you Ulrike, and see you at SPRING in Autumn XXXL! 

Visit Womb m/f/x by Ulrike Quade Company on Friday 13 November at 7:00 PM (premiere) or 9:00 PM, or on Saturday 14 November at 4:00, 7:00 or 9:00 PM at Stadsschouwburg Utrecht. For tickets, click here.

Image credit: Anouk van Kalmthout

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The different perspectives of Benjamin Kahn


By Merel Eigenhuis 

In this interview dancer, choreographer and theatre maker Benjamin Kahn talks about his performance “Sorry, But I Feel Slightly Disidentified…”, representation and power relations.

Good afternoon, Benjamin! To start off with the first question: why did you ever want to work in the field of performing arts?
To work in the performing arts field was not necessarily a clear goal from the start but something that slowly and gradually grew by different experiences. I tried many things: I studied law, economics, dramaturgy and theater but I found out that I was more fascinated by putting things in form, into the body, into physicality. This brought me to study at the national circus school ESAC in Brussels, to then become a dance-performer myself for ten years. Today, by choreographing myself, I find in the meeting of bodies and politics a very powerful tool.  

Where did you get inspiration for the concept of this performance?
At the moment we started the creation for “Sorry, But I Feel Slightly Disidentified”, I had been a performer for a long time but wanted to explore the process of creating. I found it a very challenging situation. When I started this project, I had no concept. The concept was the wish from me and Cherish [the performer in the performance] to work together. So, if we talk about the concept, the idea was more to start from the two of us and to understand what this relationship already contained in terms of poetics, politics and possible physicality. This first work has been about understanding these themes and how both our history and experiences meet or clash.

So you made this performance together?
Yes and no. There is a difference in the way we relate to this performance, Cherish as the performer and myself as the maker which implied a specific collaboration in the creative process of this performance.  It’s a difference in the way we relate to each other but also in the way society perceives us. If I state, “we made it together!”, I avoid a lot of problems about our relationship, because we both represent certain stereotypes. I don’t want to avoid this political situation that this performance contains. But at the same time, of course, we did do it together. We’re very close, also in life, so it’s not detached from that intimacy. But my route in the process of making this performance is very different from hers. 

Interesting that you brought this up, because I was also wondering: how are you dealing with the power relations and questions of representation when you (as a white man) are working with Cherish Menzo (a Black woman)?
For me this is something that we cannot look away from (still now) due to our history and the constructed systems. I find it a very complex question to answer. which is also what we try to articulate in the form of a performance and in a non-binary approach. For me this creates an opportunity to understand, negotiate and exchange in how we perceive and relate to each other. So of course, in this performance I also look and investigate my own gaze and which relation to power it already contains. It also depends a lot on who asks this question.

That’s a good question, as well.
Also, for me this relationship of power is not only linked to the process of making, but also for who we are performing for and where we present the performance. We performed at theaters and festivals, but also in gymnasiums and classrooms of secondary schools. The younger audience has a very different way to interact and respond to this performance. The question of relation and power has not been asked. Instead a lot of different concrete and urgent questions pop up. 

I am conscious about the power dynamics involved. Even the title is problematic because I created the title and it contains this ambiguity. Is it an apology or is it, again, a reinforcement of white privilege? At the same time, if you think about the history of theatre, the person who creates something, often goes beyond his own narrative. You always go beyond the personal. Like Chekhov, writing about the suburb countryside of Moscow: he’s not part of it himself. It would be problematic for me to start from myself. I did try, though, to portrait myself but I didn’t find the same urgency.

But it is true that we ask ourselves why this relationship of Cherish and I immediately refers to the relation of powers and questions of legitimacy. Every power relationship is different in another situation, being a dancer myself I am very aware about power relationship in this world. I wonder if every creative process needs to be referred as a power relationship. I think that when two artists are working together it’s not so much about power, but how we divide responsibility in the making of a performance. 

I hope this performance that tries to show the complexity of apprehending the other, does not portrait Cherish as a victim, and also not as an empowerment to her, but opens a discussion about this complexity and how we collectively embrace these narratives. It’s to collect and to react to collective narratives and not to morally comment on them, even though it’s impossible to do so
But, I think even this question is somehow problematic because it implies right away that one could always perpetuate a situation of power and one is always seen as a victim.

When talking about representation and politics of the body: is there a difference in the way white and black bodies are represented on the stage? And is it changing, in this political climate?
I think, but this a very personal opinion, that representation hasn’t changed. First of all, the contemporary dance field, that is a very European and white-knowledged, it the terms of maker but also in the terms of its audience. For example, in other dance fields there is a different representation. I think that our approach is still very exotic to the “non-normative body” and this goes beyond the race question. The awareness of a disbalance of representation has improved but for me its these bodies are still considered “outside” the norm. We are still far from a normality where the questions that you ask in this interview do not have to be asked. We are still not ready to talk about something else than the questions we assigned them. Which is for me the question of identity. This is for me still a strong relationship of power.

At the same time, you have to start somewhere…. But, indeed, we won’t overcome the problems by speaking about it like it’s a binary opposition.
Yes, it shows how complex this problem is. How on the one hand, you have to embrace the urgency, and on the other hand, how to embrace the complexity and think outside of the box. 

The performance of Benjamin Kahn, “Sorry, But I Feel Slightly Disidentified…” can be seen at Staddschouwburg Utrecht, October 28th at 19:00 and 21:00. Tickets can be bought here.

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Vacancy SPRING


This information is only available at the Dutch website.


Image: What Is The City but The People? by Jeremy Deller, produced by BAK, Centraal Museum and SPRING 2017 © CU2030

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"Is this body out of date?" An interview with Doris Uhlich and Boris Kopeinig


By Merel Eigenhuis

Doris Uhlich and Boris Kopeinig talk about their durational performance TANK, and the themes related to technology and the human body that it contains. 

Hi, Doris and Boris. How did you come up with the concept for TANK?
Boris: It started with an invitation by Tanzhaus NRW [in Düsseldorf, DE] to participate in a festival about "the human body 2.0". We did a lot of research on exoskeletons and robotics. The more machines we saw the less interested we became in bringing them on stage. Inspired by science fiction, especially the movie alien resurrection. we came up with the idea for the TANK. 

Doris: We were thinking and discussing themes such as physical enhancement and prognosis of our bodies in relation to technology. The tank stands for transformation, operation – it is like a loop in which my body transforms constantly into another body. I also liked the idea to perform in a space which has an unusual dimension for my body. Because of the size and transparent walls, the tank makes some movements impossible to perform. On the other hand, it enables movements which you can´t perform in an open space. 

In different reviews, it is stated that TANK “[…] asks the existential questions of human existence”. What is the most important existential question that lays at the base of this performance?
Boris: There is a section in the performance with an almost ritualistic beat along a vocal mantra: "is this body out of date?". For me, this a key sentence. Do we really want to talk about human bodies the same way we talk about software updates? At the same time, it's a question about the actual body of the dancer in front of you and the mechanisms of the art market.

The original version of TANK that would be shown at SPRING 2020 in May, is the ‘theatre version’. Now you’re presenting the ‘durational version’. How do these two differ?
Doris: In the durational version, audience can come and leave as they want. Because of the pandemic this seems to be an interesting proposal that more audience members can enter and watch the performance. It will be a more non-linear flow which we are very interested to develop. TANK has a lot of potential to work beyond the one hour-format of a theater performance. 

Did TANK gain a new meaning in the light of the pandemic?
Boris: The pandemic has such an impact on life, that people will have different associations for sure. However, there are more layers to discover and I hope virus-related associations will not override the depth of the piece. 

Doris: The isolated body in the tank gets a deeper meaning which we haven´t had before the pandemic. Moreover, there is one sentence in the project: “Rich people swim in a tank, poor people…” When I performed TANK the first time after the lockdown and said this sentence, I thought about who is able to afford e.g. quick tests, medicine or the first available immunizations...

What is the role of music in the performance (where did the inspiration for the music come from?
Boris: the sounds are influenced by my background as a DJ. I share my fascinations for alien, electronic, futuristic body-music. We tried something new in our collaboration, namely, we worked on "songs". Sound has a very physical and emotional layer. If you hear these patterns and frequencies your perception will align differently to what you see. 

Do you have plans to extend your artistic collaboration? 
Doris: Boris and I have worked together since 2014. He has been making the sound for most projects since then. TANK is our first collaboration where developed the concept together. Let´s see what future will bring. We are at the moment very much into developing work with local people and work site-specific with huge ensembles. Boris is making the sound for these performances, and even performs in them as he is visible as a DJ and thus part of the group. This is our focus at the moment. 

TANK is shown at Saturday, November 14th between 19:00-23:00 and Sunday, November 15th between 13:00-17:00. Click here for tickets.


Portrait of Doris Uhlich: Elsa Okazaki

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Hope and collective experiences in the work of Marc von Henning


By Merel Eigenhuis

In a Thursday-afternoon conversation with German/British theatre-director, writer and artist Marc von Henning, he talked about his video-installation/moving poem this is for everyone, which will be presented at SPRING in Autumn XXXL at the renewed library in Utrecht. this is for everyone exists shows, as Marc explained himself,  “sentences, one after another. They all start the same, but end differently. They are very associative; it’s like life, unforeseeable. It seems to have no rules, and it mirrors life in the way that everyone repeats things day after day, but never does them exactly the same.”  

Good afternoon, Marc! How did you come up with the idea for the installation/epic poem this is for everyone
I was working at a theatre in Germany, and their funds were being cut. There were some protests, and so on. One of the technicians at the theatre was also a photographer, and he had the idea to shoot a portrait of everybody of the theatre, in black and white. He showed me these pictures, and I said: “I could do a little bit of text!”. That’s how it started. I wrote these sentences for everyone. It worked really well: it ended up being an exhibition in other towns. This was a long time ago. Then I did a few others, not just this is for everyone, but other projects, very similar in format but different in content. Suddenly I had a lot of them, about 400-500. And I thought: what do I do with them? You can’t just put them in a book, it doesn’t work like that. It took a while to find a medium that would fit the words, and I am still not sure. It can present itself in many different contexts. I felt like it needed to speak for itself, so it had to have a life of some kind. I put a few sentences together, and I showed it to people, asking: “what do you think should happen with this?” Almost all of them thought it was a kind of performance. As you can see, its an ongoing journey, and I just try to figure it out as I go along. Every now and then a new sentence comes to me, and I need to decide where to put it. It’s like a poem that you keep writing. 

A living artwork.
Yes, something like that.

What does the title mean to you? Who do you mean by everyone? And why for everyone?
That is an interesting question. What I think its potential is, is to share thoughts, emotions, contradictions, unfulfilled desires and disappointments. It taps in to these shared experiences in different ways. It’s like a key to an ignition. I feel like it puts something in motion. The title points out the things we share, not what makes us different. I think it wants people to feel like a collective, and has potential to speak through different times and cultures. I feel it has a potential to create the idea that we are one, everyone. I suppose I try to find meaningful ways to connect to strangers to create collective experiences. 

The work was supposed to be shown at SPRING last May, then you made a new version for SPRING on Screen [the online programme of SPRING last May]. Do you think the work has gained a new meaning somehow because of the pandemic?
I made a new version, which includes some of the sentences that I thought of during the lockdown, and some of the sentences that I hadn’t put in originally, but now seemed to gather a new meaning. The thing that is on people’s minds will influence the way in which they will see this artwork. And we have something collective on our minds now, with what we’re going through.  I think it’s a good time to see it, also in this context, where it’s accessible for everyone. Because that’s also the idea, of course: that it is for everyone. 

I think this is for everyone is a very hopeful poem/installation. Is your other work this hopeful as well?
I am working on a piece in Hamburg, named The Misunderstanding of the World. One of its main focuses is the positive developments that most societies have gone through in the last 100 years. We’re trying to create a platform for things that need to be addressed, from a point of self-confidence, rather than out of a panic or fear and blame with we’re always doing everything wrong. Most of the time, we tend to see the bad things, and disregard our abilities and capacities. We tend to think the weather is always bad, inside and out. There are some beautiful books being written, for example the book of Rutger Bregman - who are pointing to the good and potential in people. But: it’s not as clear-cut as we like it to be. There are no easy solutions and definitely no comfortable answers. So, with that in mind, that is where we start to feel good, if we stop trying to think there is a solution around the corner. I think that idea shows in my work. 

Thanks, Marc, and see you at SPRING in Autumn!

this is for everyone is shown from October 28th until November 15th at the Bibliotheek Neude. For more information, click here.

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Mónica Calle’s Roadmap


The map doesn’t really make sense until you set off on the road. In Portuguese theatre maker Mónica Calle’s case, this cliché became a reality when she abandoned her original roadmap during the creation of her show Ensaio para uma Cartografia.

Mónica Calle is a professional actress and theatre maker. In Portugal she enjoys a unique status as an artist; elsewhere in the world, she is still relatively unknown. In her shows she pairs an interest in themes referring to human relationships, specifically love affairs, to a focus on the (female) body. 25 years ago, Calle founded the Casa Conveniente theatre company. Since 1992, Cais do Sodré, the Lisbon district where Casa Conveniente had its home, had been gentrifying, changing from a port district with dockers and sex workers into a hip and expensive neighbourhood. By 2014, the company, which was named after the local supermarket that was the original occupant of its building, was feeling chased out of the area and moved to a different district: “It was a year of breaking away, of reconsidering everything, of blazing a trail across the city, an emotional journey,” Calle explained to the Portuguese magazine GPS.  They ended up on the outskirts of Lisbon in an district called Zona Jota, which had a bad reputation. Here Calle started creating her projects in collaboration with the local community, as she told journalist Ana Pais from the website Critical Stages: “What I felt In Zona Jota was that working there would have a consequence, not just for the community but also for my artistic work. It was stimulating, both artistically and personally. It gave me the possibility of not restricting my work to a minority, a homogenous group of cultural consumers. I believe that the whole dynamic we create with our presence in that neighborhood is inscribing its territory in the city. I ask myself: how can an artistic practice inscribe marginality in the center of a city? I have always been interested in mixing people and contexts, in creating movement.” 
During the transition Calle planned to base her next show on the ‘sung ballet’ The Seven Deadly Sins by the politically outspoken German playwright Bertolt Brecht. Calle intended to use the seven districts of Lisbon and the seven regions of Portugal as a blueprint for the production. But she reconsidered: “Going through my mind was one of Leonard Bernstein’s rehearsals. I shut myself up at home to revisit the project and forced myself to watch these orchestra rehearsals.“  As Calle continued on her artistic roadmap, she ultimately created the show that is coming to SPRING in Autumn: Ensaio para uma Cartografia, which roughly translates as A rehearsal for a Cartography. Calle wonders how to create a map of a route, a city or a country? How to go back to the start? And how to continue? 

The show sees 12 actresses, their ages ranging from 22 to 50, attempting to perform a classical dance, while trying to play an excerpt from a complex symphony on cellos, violins and double bass. The attempt is endlessly repeated – in the same obsessive vein in which composer Ravel wrote his Bolero: “I began by stripping everything away, from text to costumes, until I came closer and closer to the essence: challenge, effort, and emotion. We try to work with disciplines we are not trained in, like dance and classical music. We see where it takes us, and observe what is left at the core, both artistically and personally.” What about the text in the show? It comes from the conductors, yelling off-stage.


Ensaio para uma Cartografia is shown at October 31st in Stadsschouwburg Utrecht. For tickets, click here.

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SPRING IN AUTUMN XXXL: Tickets available now!


I Don’t Want To Be An Individual All On My Own is the title of the new show of composer and theatre maker Genevieve Murphy, which premieres at SPRING in Autumn. This title is almost emblematic and prophetic today. In times of ‘social distancing’ we don’t want to be all on our own. We want to be part of something. We want to come together. In any way that is possible.

Welcome to SPRING in Autumn XXXL. An exceptional version with special works for special times with special rules. The artists created many different formats: installations, durational shows, stage-on-stage settings, and one-on-one shows that allow very personal and intimate encounters. This year, the festival will not last the usual three days, but almost three weeks. Extended, extraordinary, exhilarating. Live. We look forward to seeing you again!

Tickets are available now - so dive into the programme, get yourself some tickets and we cannot wait to see you again. 


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SPRING in Autumn 2020: 28 Oct - 15 Nov


This time, a larger edition of SPRING in Autumn is scheduled this fall. In addition to the original weekend in Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, we also present performances in Theater Kikker, TivoliVredenburg, Het Huis and De LiK between October 28th and November 15th. The program includes performances by Genevieve Murphy, Mónica Calle, Abhishek Thapar, Benjamin Kahn and Julian Hetzel. We also present a series of continuous performances and installations.

All performances and installations are presented within the COVID-19 guidelines by the Dutch government.

Full program will be announced in September. Stay up to date by RSVP-ing or sign up for our news letter at the bottom of this page.  

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Supported by Fonds Podiumkunsten


At the beginning of August we received the good news that for the next 4 years we will again be supported by Fonds Podiumkunsten (Performing Arts Fund) in the multi-year festival subsidy 2021-2024. The recommendations state: “The committee is of the opinion that SPRING makes art relevant in a new way by making a connection with current social developments. SPRING does not shy away from abrasive performances and knows how to contextualize this in an appropriate way. ”

Thanks to the structural support of Fonds Podiumkunsten, the province of Utrecht and the municipality of Utrecht, we can create beautiful editions of SPRING possible in the coming years.

In addition to this good news, it is now clear that in the category of multi-year production subsidies 2021-2024 many companies will not be awarded their subsidies due to an insufficient budget (despite a positive advice); these companies include (former) festival makers such as Third Space, Nieuwe Helden, Dood Paard and This Is Not A Show - Katja Heitmann. This would mean an enormous impoverishment of the performing arts. We sympathize with our colleagues and support the call from the professional field for an extra budget so that the applications from these talented makers can still be honored. Also read the urgent letter (countersigned by SPRING) that was recently sent to the Tweede Kamer and minister Van Engelshoven.

(photo: Rikkert Wijrdeman)

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The Art of Walking


On Friday July 3rd, artists Pankaj Tiwari and Abhishek Thapar will start their durational performance The Art of Walking, which is co-produced by SPRING. In thirteen days they will walk from Amsterdam to Calais, France, a hike of 312 kilometers long. With this performance, Tiwari and Thapar would like to raise awareness to the oppressive situation of migrant workers in India during this corona era.

After COVID-19 broke out in India, the Indian government hastily announced a strict national lockdown from March 25th. A decision that has a major impact on the working-class communities in India. In a matter of hours, the lockdown was jolting halt to the economy and many daily wage laborers and other precarious workers were rendered jobless, moneyless, food less and under the fear of contracting COVID. In such a desperate situation, the migrant workers who were living in large Indian cities were left with no choice but to turn towards their homes in remote villages and small towns of India. Trains, buses or other public transport was suspended. The streets were barricaded and under a curfew. Millions of workers took to the streets and decided to walk towards their villages and towns with their children, families and a few belongings. These distances were from 300 to 2200 km. Few died on the way, few lost their children, few got killed by a train, few survived to reach home.

Tiwari and Thapar start their journey on July 3, a long hike with meditation and mourning. During the journey they will initiate conversations with other migrant artists and build solidarity across Europe on some of these issues. The journey will conclude with a meal. It will be cooked, shared, and eaten together at Calais with everyone.

The Art of Walking seeks to create space for conversation, and exercise an urgent role and function of art in the time of crisis. 80% of the production budget of this project is paid to the migrant workers in India. With the experiences that Tiwari and Thapar gain on their journey, they develop a performance that we present at SPRING 2021.

You can follow Tiwari and Thapar on their journey via their Facebookpage The Art of Walking.




Co-Produced by HAU Hebbel am Ufer (DE), Flinn Works (DE), Theaterfestival Boulevard (NL), Productiehuis Theater Rotterdam (NL), SPRING Festival (NL), Standplaats (NL) wpZimmer (BE), Performing Borders UK, Liberty UK Festival. Support by Over Het IJ Festival (NL).

Image: Himanshi Parmar

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Looking for volunteers


SPRING presents the performance You are here by Studio Dries Verhoeven in the Werkspoorkathedraal in Utrecht from 8-18 July. The revival of this successful work from 2007 was scheduled for SPRING Performing Arts Festival last May, but was canceled due to COVID-19. The installation performance, in which visitors get their own bedroom, is about loneliness and contact and has only become more urgent due to the past months of lockdown and social distancing.

We are looking for volunteers to help run this special installation performance in a smooth and corona-proof way!

Your role
The activities at this performance are mainly related to making / keeping the venue corona-proof. For example, door knobs and taps must be disinfected and the sheets in the “bedrooms” changed every time. In addition, there is also the task of scanning the tickets upon entering and possibly guiding the public.

As a volunteer, we offer you a glimpse into the world of a special location project, you work together with a small but fun team and you get the chance to attend the dress rehearsal of the installation performance! We ask you to work at least 2 shifts, depending on your availability. A shift lasts from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM or from 6:30 PM to the end. Depending on your shift, we will prepare your dinner.

We are very happy that we can still realize this project, but we are also very aware that this may entail risks for some people. It is therefore important that as a volunteer, you do not belong to one of the risk groups as defined by RIVM.


Do you have any questions or are you interested in becoming a volunteer at You are here? Send an email to kelly.jacobs@springutrecht.nl


Photo: Anna van Kooij

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Culture Subsidy 2021-2024 Gemeente Utrecht


Great news! This week, the recommendations for the Utrecht culture subsidy 2021-2024 were announced and subsidy has been granted to SPRING! We received a nice positive advice from the advisory committee: “The committee is impressed by the urgency expressed in the SPRING application. (...) The committee considers the programming of SPRING to be groundbreaking in an artistic sense and she considers the festival to be of convincing importance for the city. (…) The festival also has an exemplary function nationally, in the Committee's view. ”

Curious about our plans for the coming years? Read our Kunstenplan 2021-2024 (available in Dutch only!)


Photo: Think Much. Cry Much. by Rima Najdi (SPRING 2018) © Rikkert Wijrdeman

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You are here by Dries Verhoeven in reprise


We are happy to announce we can present the performance U bevindt zich hier (You are here) by Dries Verhoeven from 8-18 July in the Werkspoorkathedraal in Utrecht. The reprise of this successful work from 2007 was scheduled for SPRING Performing Arts Festival last May, but was canceled due to COVID-19. The installation performance, in which visitors get their own bedroom, is about loneliness and contact and has only become more urgent due to the past months of lockdown and social distancing. Thanks to intensive collaboration with Studio Dries Verhoeven and the organization of Theaterfestival Boulevard, we are able to present this experience theatre this summer. The performance is shown within the corona protocol of the Dutch association NAPK. Ticket sales start Thursday, June 11 at 10:00 am here at springutrecht.nl

Dries Verhoeven about the revival of You are here: "The current pandemic makes the work a reflection on our time of self-isolation. In our current internet reality it appears that contact is no longer a requirement for living: we can order our food online, we talk via online platforms, the cinema has been replaced by Netflix. In this way, we could live side by side for years. But what does it do to the human soul, to our mental state, when we no longer meet each other in real life? The recent period of social distancing has further increased that distinction between digital and 'flesh and blood.' Many of us only have had physical contact with a few people in the recent months, but tried to find an alternative via the internet for that physical closeness to others. It revealed the limitations of the internet as a substitute for life. "

After Utrecht, the performance will also be presented in the Brabanthallen in ‘s-Hertogenbosch from 6-16 August as part of the alternative summer programme of Boulevard.

Photo: Anna van Kooij

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SPRING Academy exchanges remotely


SPRING Academy, SPRING’s platform for artistic exchange, would have welcomed over 200 participants this May. At SPRING Academy, (inter)national artists, scholars and students come together to share knowledge, skills and perspectives. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 the SPRING Academy is cancelled this year. As a reaction to the corona crisis, we see national governments looking inwards, countries competing over supplies and autocratic leaders growing their dictatorial powers. But we also see acts of solidarity, creativity and collaboration. This is a time to reach beyond (national) borders, even if it is digital. That’s why we think it is important for Arts students to be able to exchange ideas and inspiration across borders. Therefore, we developed a small exchange assignment for students from all the schools that would have participated in SPRING Academy. The students chose an existing artwork that inspired them and reflected on the idea of ‘creating togetherness’, the theme of this year’s Academy. The assignments were exchanged between the students and it was a start of a transnational conversation about togetherness in these corona times. We share three contributions by the students here below.


Roots by Frida Kahlo
Contribution by Selina Tuijnenburg, ArtEZ University of the Arts

Strong presence of abandonment and tangled roots during these distance times.

While we are all finding our ways around this situation our world is in right now, we experience how vital social contact is for our wellbeing. We’ve all been put in this crisis, involuntary, yet we are quickly adapting, transforming, optimizing in a noticeable way!
I took this work of art to portray the importance of touching base with your roots, to check upon your health, physical and mental. To remember and respect that there is no right way of dealing with a global pandemic and that we will grow from this experience, together.


Ascent by Fiona Tan
Contribution by Jesse van Delft, Utrecht University, pre(masters) program Contemporary Theatre, Dance and Dramaturgy 

Ascent is a work by film maker Fiona Tan. It is 80 minutes long, made of only pictures from the mount Fuji in Japan. It is a work that, by watching it, gives you a sense of moving stillness. It brings you in a kind of liminal space. The pictures are combined with a fictional narrative in which impermanence, time, moving and stillness are reflected. In Japan, death is the fall of the cherry blossom, which is celebrated. Change can be a tradition. In this time of change and death, this work can give a humble reflection on these matters and 80 minutes of breath space.


Relay by Ula Sickle
Contribution by Ashley Ho, ArtEZ University of the Arts, The Netherlands / Singapore

In Relay, a black flag undulates in a quiet riot – a baton passed from performer to performer. The durational work is centred on the flag’s tabula rasa, which invites a multiplicity of interpretation. Raised in celebration, mourning, alarm, within each performer’s singularity, the relay structure alludes to the omnipresence of a collective, embodying a symbol and a product of togetherness. At any point of apparent standstill, feet rooted to the ground, the flag remains in constant motion – you know that elsewhere, which is also right here, a ripple of black is calling out a name, which is all of ours.

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Messages from quarantine


SPRING has a rich tradition of presenting art in the public space, and we see no reason to stop. We asked current and former festival artists what they want to tell the world in this corona time. Under the title 'Message from quarantine', we will show contributions by Milo Rau, Nicole Beutler and Julian Hetzel on posters and digital screens in Utrecht, offering hope, reflection, and inspiration to all of us. 

Thirteen artists have contributed to this poster project. 


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Opening speech SPRING on Screen


From an empty Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Rainer Hofmann opened the SPRING on Screen programme on Thursday 14 May with a speech via Zoom. Read the speech here.


Opening speech for an unopened festival 2020

Goedenavond, good evening.

Welkom, welcome at the opening speech of SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2020. There is no SPRING this May, but I thought I keep a good tradition alive and give an opening speech in the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht. Thanks for joining me here. Now it has become an opening speech for an unopened festival in an empty theatre. So this is not a moment of starting something, but of not-starting something, a moment of pause, of reflection. Fulfilment is postponed.

The actual opening show that we wanted you to see tonight, had the title The Lingering Now. It was created by the Brazilian theatre maker Christiane Jatahy with a cast of people who had to flee their homes and countries. It is about people on an unknown and involuntary journey, people whose lives had been interrupted, people who want to go back home or build a new home somewhere else. The show is about life in suspension.

Now in some way we all live in suspension, most of us under comparably safe conditions. But we do not know what comes tomorrow. ‘Varen op zicht’, as they call it in politics using a nautical expression. According to Dutch laws you need a good radar-installation to be allowed ‘op zicht te varen’.

The other day I listened to an essay by Olga Grasnjowa, a writer from Azerbaijan. Having grown up in a country with questionable democratic and humanitarian standards, she expressed how surprised she is about how surprised we Europeans here are about the fragility of existence. Her life experience in her country taught her that everything can be taken away from you in almost no time.

Then I saw a video on YouTube – yes, I spend too much time staring at small screens trying to make my lockdown a bit more intelligent -, an edit of commercials from our Corona time. All the commercials looked and sounded the same, no matter if they sold cars, insurances, beers, smartphones, tacos, running shoes, tractors or credit cards: They had sad but soothing piano music, they were referring to decades of tradition (trust us, we know how to make you drunk, buy an insurance and drive a car), they showed pictures of warmly lit homes, and they said, we are here for you, we are all part of a community, we help each other, we are there for each other, we are in this together, we do it together, we build it up together.

At least if you buy our cars, insurances, beers, smartphones, tacos, running shoes, tractors and credit cards. Is this being together? Is this offering a safe home? I mean we all know, that in a glass of jam with a sticker that says “home-made with grandmother’s recipe”, there is surely nothing homemade in it and grandmother was absolutely not involved in it at all.

All these desperate companies from the video with their shrinking advertisement budgets and their exhausted marketing departments exploit our need for togetherness and safety, which I also feel strongly in these days.

At the same time the ‘anderhalve-meter-samenleving’, the one-and-a-half-metre society is sold to us as the new normal, het nieuwe normaal. Sold to us by a government whose press conferences have highest viewing rates on TV and internet. They have become very successful pest-sellers.

Expressions like “het nieuwe normaal“ or “anderhalve-meter-samenleving“ (even with the good intention of keeping us safe) try mainly to keep things going. Come up with a harmless name and you do not have to think about real changes! But calling something normal, does not make it normal. It is a step on the way to business as usual. It is the opposite of a Lingering Now, the opposite of a pause, the opposite of a moment in suspension, the opposite of a moment of reflection.

But is there not something that we could learn instead of rushing to a new normal? The virus is like a magnifying-glass, showing us the effects of the ideologies of growth and exploitation which rule our society. Theatre maker Milo Rau said in a poster project that SPRING initiated: “If you are not relevant for the system, perhaps the system is not relevant for you”. This leads to the question: What kind of system would be relevant for us? What kind of system do we want? All together? I have no answers, but let’s use this lingering moment to think about it. This is the hour of the life savers, soon comes the hour of the big questions.

And here we come in. We from the arts. The paradox is that whilst all our theatres and venues are closed, we are as much needed and as important as maybe never before. We ARE a radar. We are THE place of coming together, we are THE place of creating communities. We are THE place of reflecting on a crisis. And of discussing the deeper causes of a crisis. And possible futures. We cannot save sick people. But we can help to understand the world and come up with ideas for a different world.

What could we learn about the old normal? What kind of new normal would we want? Could we imagine a different society? How could it work, even on a global level? Does the human perspective that we can offer help with these questions against the preachers of efficiency? Could the emotional quality of art and its utopian power lead to a different understanding of how we want to live?

How can we promote an open society, also against those who use the virus for their nationalist and populist goals, against those, also within the EU, who dismiss democracy under the pretence of safety rules? How can we safeguard international exchange when nationalist, protective behaviour threatens us? How can we balance the local and the global in the future?

I do not want to instrumentalize the arts, I want to argue for freedom and support for the arts, especially at this moment. They offer the most, when they are not forced to offer something. Culture and art are not a luxury for good times, they are part of the infrastructure of a liberal, democratic society. They reflect deep human needs. They can offer feelings of togetherness or comfort, a larger sense of being, critical thoughts, visions and provocations, utopias and new spaces. Don’t tell the arts what they should do. Leave it to them, give them support and the chance to surprise you.

Right now we cannot go to theatres. Theatre means coming together in the same place at the same time, artists and audiences. We from the performing arts are hit in the core of our existence. We were the first to be closed and we will probably be the last to open up again fully.

We are thankful for the support the Dutch government offers to the cultural sector so far. It is a beginning at least. Yet they underestimate the relevance and the power of the arts heavily. I would like to remind them, we are essential for an open society. Let me translate it into a recommendation for action: fair practice is no fair weather practice.

Obviously, our government does not even know the big economical role of the creative sector. They seem to stick to an old idea of economy which is held alive by equally old and powerful lobbying structures. Even less do they see our strength beyond the economical role, beyond immediate exploitability. Even less do they see the need for this. Back to business seems to be good enough for them, back to normal. It is not for us. We are essential in imagining our future world. Artists and audiences together. In the theatres and in the foyer bars afterwards. Without someone saying “End meeting for all.“ Only “last round“ is accepted.

For the time being, we all created online activities. Far too many in my eyes. A strong and stale smell of “Ersatz“ hangs in the air as soon as the streaming starts. (I am really sorry for imposing myself onto you in the same way, but there is no other way right now and you signed in voluntarily.) Let’s make a little less digital noise for a while and prepare for the time when we open again, when we can invite the audiences again to our venues and museums.

Loving contradictions and ironical gestures, I cannot help but make some noise here myself. And we at SPRING cannot help but offer you an online programme. Don’t worry, it is very specific: We do not show any registrations of performances. We show you work that is made for the screen by the artists that had been invited to the festival. We want to give you an idea of what you have to miss and some inspiration. Every day you can find a new art work on our website. Today we start with a short film by the Japanese choreographer Hiroaki Umeda, a spectacular merging of the physical and the digital. As a special extra we offer you next week on Saturday a new online version of Lotte van den Berg’s Building Conversation called Digital Silence. On the third space combining digital and physical presence.

We do not restrict ourselves to the screen. Theatres are closed but the city is not. For a poster project we asked artists: What do you want to tell the world? Many answered our call and gave us Messages out of quarantine for the future, amongst them Tim Etchells, Nicole Beutler, Philippe Quesne, Dries Verhoeven and Christiane Jatahy. Look out for their contributions on posters in Utrecht and also on our website. I am sure they offer some comfort and some thoughts for our future.

The current situation is not the new normal. It is an emergency situation. Otherwise we are not living, only surviving. I do not want to imagine a world with 1.5 metres distance, where social interaction takes place mainly via screens. I want to believe in us coming together again. I want to believe in the moments, when we will meet here in the theatre, when we will be moved by what we see together at the same moment.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2020 alive and unopened. Please raise your glasses with me. I see many of you have dressed decently for this non-opening. Please stand up and show also the lower half of your bodies and the clothes there. To a moment of pause and to postponed fulfilment. Do yourselves a favour whenever your current situation allows: Stop being efficient and take your time! To a shared future with open theatres! To the magic of the live moment! To coming together again! Hopefully at an extended SPRING in Autumn edition. Latest at SPRING 2021. Thank you for joining and cheers!

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SPRING presents SPRING on Screen


Like many other events, the SPRING Performing Arts Festival has unfortunately been cancelled this May. We’ll miss the surprising and innovative performances, the healthy tension at the office, the enthusiastic volunteers, and of course the wonderful, curious audience. But SPRING still exists. Even though the performances can’t take place, we intend to present the artists who would have been part of the festival in an online programme. SPRING on Screen will include dance films, music videos, podcasts, philosophical reflections, living room performances, and short documentaries. It doesn’t replace the festival experience, but gives a glimpse of what we’ll be missing, in the hope that SPRING in Autumn or SPRING 2021 will enable us to see the work of the festival artists live again. In addition, we’ll show a series of posters in the streets of Utrecht and online, with messages in quarantine from current and former festival artists. Artistic director Rainer Hofmann is happy to invite you all to a talk via Zoom on Thursday 14 May at 8 pm.

Digital artworks
The programme on the SPRING website is short and powerful. Genevieve Murphy will release the first song of her new album with a music video. Theatre collective Dood Paard is working on a podcast. Jan Fedinger is making a video version of his work land[e]scapes 4 - redistribution of wealth by nature. In addition to new work, the festival also showcases existing pieces by festival artists. Christiane Jatahy shows a short documentary from her performance The Walking Forest. Japanese artist Hiroaki Umeda presents the short dance film Holistic Strata Screen, and The Bohemian Rhapsody project by Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen will also be streamed. The full programme will be published online soon.

The public space is not closed
SPRING has a rich tradition of presenting art in the public space, and we see no reason to stop. We asked current and former festival artists what they want to tell the world in this corona time. Under the title 'Message from quarantine', we will show contributions by Milo Rau, Nicole Beutler and Julian Hetzel on posters and digital screens in Utrecht, offering hope, reflection, and inspiration to all of us. The series of posters will also be published on springutrecht.nl.

Opening speech
The performances of SPRING 2020 have been cancelled, but there will still be an opening speech. There’s a lot to say. Artistic director Rainer Hofmann will talk via Zoom on Thursday 14 May at 8 pm, when SPRING would originally have opened, and everyone is welcome (keep an eye on our website and social media). The first SPRING on Screen programme will be available online immediately after this, and new contributions will follow on a daily basis.

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European theatre project Moving Borders launched


Society is shutting down, borders are closing and we cannot meet. Unfortunately we had to cancel SPRING Performing Arts Festival in May. However, we are not sitting still. Especially now we realize that the importance of meeting is a great deal. We are thinking about the future, including with this project where diverse people meet to question borders.

The international theatre project Moving Borders, which is co-funded by Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, began with a digital kick-off meeting at the end of March.  SPRING Performing Arts Festival developed this project together with six European performing arts institutions. 

Over a period of two years, seven individual editions of one artistic concept – ARK by the British ensemble of artists & producers Quarantine with director Richard Gregory – will be produced in Athens, Dresden, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Porto, Strasbourg, Utrecht and Warsaw. In each city, Quarantine will collaborate with local artists, creatives and citizens to construct an ‘ark’ – which could materialise physically or metaphorically and will be adapted to each city’s individual local demographical, historical, cultural and social realities – providing a space for alternative activities and for new encounters between people.

This joint participative project aims to examine the term “borders” and its manifestations in our contemporary European societies. Through it, we will address the phenomena of borders in our cities and in our everyday lives: as a divisive element that can prevent people from reaching out to each other and which can foster inequality, but also as a constituent part of successful diverse communities, where mutual respect and recognition only become possible by drawing lines. As we witness a dangerous resurgence of nationalist and xenophobic tendencies in Europe and in times of COVID-19 and increasing economic inequality, ARK will send a positive message about diverse ways of being together.

The preliminaries for the long-term project have now started in each city and these will lead into the next phase of the project, consisting of laboratories and workshops in autumn 2020. The seven editions of ARK will be developed and presented in each city in spring and summer 2021. ARK will take place in Utrecht during SPRING Performing Arts Festival in May 2021.

For more information click here.

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SPRING and the coronavirus


At SPRING, the health of all of us humans comes first. We follow the advice on the coronavirus from RIVM and the government and closely monitor developments. It is still unclear what the possible consequences are for our festival in May. We take into account all scenarios. We have currently suspended our pre-sales of the first three performances and moved the ticket sales of the entire program from March 25 to April 7. As soon as there are new developments, we will keep you informed via our website and social media channels. Stay healthy, pay close attention to each other and hopefully see you soon!

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SPRING Performing Arts Festival 2020 is calling (emerging) artists and students: makers, choreographers, scenographers, dramaturgs, dancers, actors, performers, writers, curators, researchers and political engagers who would love to learn more at the masterclasses & SPRING Intensive of SPRING Academy 2020. Meet other young artists, as well as professional artists that are performing at SPRING this year.

This year we offer you three open call programmes:

With this years’ theme: Creating Togetherness, SPRING Academy promises an inspiring gathering of artistic minds and bodies at Het Huis Utrecht! We will be exploring questions such as; What does it mean to be human? And what is the ratio of your body to its environment?

The application deadline is April 14. To ensure yourself of the Early Bird Discount, please apply before April 1st. You can visit the SPRING Academy page for more information about the masterclasses and intensive.




We look forward to meeting you at SPRING Academy 2020!

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WANTED: old mobile phones


For "my shadow used to have a density", the new show by Francesca Lazzeri / no time for commas, we are looking for MANY MANY mobile phones! Do you still have a telephone somewhere in a drawer that is just collecting dust? Send an email to: vera@wildvlees.com

Give your old phone (either working or not working) a new life, help us prevent buying and wasting new phones and help make a show. Afterwards, all telephones are donated to eeko ccc, a company that recycles parts and distributes all profits to charities.

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First three performances and Early Bird passe-partout tickets on sale now!


SPRING proudly presents the first three performances of SPRING 2020!

In Ensaio para uma cartografia created by the Portuguese theatre maker Mónica Calle we bear witness to the strength of women, to human strength and the power of imperfection. Twelve actresses – a cast that reflects the diversity of humankind and of womankind – attempt to execute classical dance routines and perform a complex symphony.

TANZ by chorographer Florentina Holzinger – best known for her overwhelming and raw brand of total theatre – is a study of the female body as a special effects machine. The dancers are undergoing a rigorous training in "action ballet". It is a search for perfection in a world on the run, and turns the raw into the sublime.

In The Ecstatic Jeremy Nedd and the Impilo Mapantsula company intertwine the energetic dance form that arose during the Apartheid era in South Africa, pantsula dancing, with the spiritual dance tradition of the praise break. Onstage, time seems to come to a standstill as six pantsula dancers reach a point of extasy in an explosion of energy.

Do you desire to see all these above mentioned performances, and even more? This is your chance to buy an Early Bird passe-partout for € 68,- (instead of € 88,-). Check this page for more information & terms of condition. 


Program       Passe-partout

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Shout-out to our most loyal visitors!


We are looking for five people with different backgrounds (young / old / fat / thin / short / tall / man / woman / everything in between) who want to become the face of our fresh SPRING campaign.

We photograph in Utrecht on 12 February. More information? Send an email to marketing@springutrecht.nl.

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Talking with rice cookers


This article is only available in Dutch.


Zuid-Korea is wellicht nog onbekender dan het totalitaire Noord-Korea. Vanuit het Nederlands perspectief zien we de ellende en onderdrukking in Noord-Korea en gaan we er vanuit dat Zuid-Korea net zo is als het welvarende Japan. De voorstelling Cuckoo van Jaha Koo biedt een somberder perspectief op Zuid-Korea.

Eerst over de vorm: een tafel met drie rijstkokers en een groot projectiescherm. De voorstelling is een mengeling tussen documentairefilm, een persoonlijk verteld relaas door Koo en pratende en zingende rijstkokers. Koo laat zien hoe twintig jaar geleden de economie van Zuid-Korea in elkaar donderde. Toen het land op de rand van bankroet stond, hebben het IMF en Wereldbank onder aanvoering van de VS het land geld geleend, maar onder voorwaarde dat de markt werd opengegooid. De rente steeg tot ongekende hoogte en veel bedrijven gingen failliet. Dat leidde ertoe dat Korea door het buitenland (Amerika) werd leeggeroofd. En dat leidde tot werkloosheid en onlusten. Keiharde demonstraties en confrontaties met de politie.

Koo vertelt dat zes van zijn vrienden zelfmoord hebben gepleegd. Zelf ontvlucht hij Korea en woont nu in Amsterdam. Hij worstelt met de ellende die hij heeft achtergelaten en de vrienden die dood zijn. Het grote verhaal over economie en de kapitalistische roofeconomie komt dicht op de huid door het persoonlijke verhaal van Koo.

In het interessante nagesprek van 10 minuten waarbij vragen uit het publiek verzameld werden op briefjes, vergelijkt Koo Nederland met Korea. In Nederland is er meer ruimte voor het individu, meer ‘zuurstof’, dan in het strikt hiërarchische Korea. Een van de vragen (toevallig mijn vraag) was: hoe moet het verder met Korea? Koo gaf aan dat hij daar het antwoord niet op heeft. Hij wil analyseren en laten zien dat er problemen zijn. Dat is natuurlijk allereerst noodzakelijk, pas als het helder is dat er een probleem is en wat het probleem is, kan er gedacht worden aan mogelijke oplossingen.

Gebukt onder een probleem waarvan ik het bestaan niet wist en waarvoor ook ik geen idee heb wat een oplossing is, haasten we ons naar de andere zaal voor alweer de slotvoorstelling van SPRING in Autumn.

Kleurrijk excentriek modeconcert
Het publiek zit op het podium in de grote zaal rondom een vierkante glanzende vloer. Er volgt een veelsoortige voorstelling waarbij een interculturele excentrieke modeshow van de toekomst de hoofdmoot vormt aangevuld met muziek, zang, dans en poëzie. Een groot deel van de performers is afkomstig uit verschillende landen in Afrika. Er komen Afrikaanse elementen in voor, zoals traditionele trommels, maar het geheel doet denken aan een moderne club. De show is een grote verkleedpartij met op de catwalk dansacts en een intrigerende vechtscene in slowmotion. Bij het kijken krijg ik ook een ongemakkelijk gevoel. Tussen alle excentrieke vrolijkheid door vragen de makers aandacht voor neokolonialisme en politieke correctheid.

De drie daverende dagen SPRING in Autumn verruimen de blik op de wereld. Ik zie uit naar het grote 10-daagse SPRING festival in mei.

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Alles anders Everything is different

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 1 by philosopher Floris van den Berg

Dronefare op de bühne Drones on stage

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 2 by philosopher Floris van den Berg


The fashion in Chombotrope


This article is only available in Dutch.


Blogger Liesbeth Berg-Meulenberg doet verslag van de fashion in fashionconcert Chombotrope.

SPRING 'Fashionweek' in Autumn sluit af met de toekomstvisie van de Oegandese modeontwerper Xenson, lid van The Jitta Collective.

Alle bekende VIPs zijn aanwezig: de artistiek directeur van SPRING, de programmeur van Stadsschouwburg Utrecht en de crème de la crème op het gebied van choreografie. Speciaal voor deze gelegenheid is het toneel van Stadsschouwburg Utrecht omgebouwd, zodat al het publiek om de catwalk heen op het podium plaats kan nemen. De muzikanten maken zich klaar, het publiek wordt opgehitst. De show kan beginnen!

Nieuwe collectie
De modellen worden op het podium aangekleed en tonen de eerste creaties van het nieuwe seizoen. Het begint gelijk al goed met een verschillende set aan jurken. Wat een ruimtelijkheid, wat een rijk gebruik van materialen. Plastic, aluminium, karton, touw en nog veel meer passeren de revue. Mijn voorkeur gaat uit naar de kartonnen verpakkingstrui en de schuimjurk.

De modellen showen modeposes, die je normaal op een catwalk niet tegenkomt. Er wordt gevogued, gerapt, gemarcheerd en benen in de nek gegooid. Het martial-arts outfit wordt op een wel heel toepasselijke wijze getoond: in volle actie, al is het in slow-motion. Zo is goed de mate van flexibiliteit van de gekozen stof te zien. Alle mogelijke stoten worden gedemonstreerd.

Ook is er aandacht voor het haar: zowel de supersnelle haartrends als hoofddeksels, waarbij de UFO-hoed en de tentakel-muts een heuse eye-catcher zijn. Deze laatste kan ook ingevlochten worden.

The Jitta Collective slaagt erin een nieuwe manier van catwalk te presenteren, fashionshow en concert ineen, die meegaat met de tijd en de kostuums laat zien in de situaties en omgeving waarvoor het kledingstuk bedoeld is. Of juist de afkomst van het kledingstuk accentueert. Als klapper op de vuurpijl wordt een geheel nieuw concept naar voren gebracht: het community pak. Om een community te vormen die alle verschillende afkomsten samenbrengt!

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Drones on stage


This article is only available in Dutch.


Reflecties over SPRING in Autumn, dag 2 door filosoof Floris van den Berg. 

Only the dead have seen the end of war
. - Plato

Als je niks zou weten van wat er in de wereld speelt, dan zou de voorstelling #minaret vermakelijk kunnen zijn. Maar in de tijd dat iedereen online is, krijg je de ellende uit de wereld mee, of je het nu wilt of niet. Wat mij verbaasd is dat ellende en geweld entertainment kunnen zijn – kijk naar de vele actie- en geweldfilms die kaskrakers zijn en waar niemand ook maar een nacht minder om slaapt, zoals onlangs de geweldsorgie van de film Joker. Het nieuws stort dagelijks ellende over ons uit en ook al is dat geen entertainment, we laten het onverschillig langs ons heenglijden. Tenzij het de kat van de buren betreft die door een dierenbeul is doodgemarteld, dan vinden we het niet leuk meer. Dan zijn we geschokt. We kunnen het nog wel, geschokt zijn. Maar we zijn het niet vaak. Klein leed dichtbij doet ons veel meer dan groot leed ver weg. Wat moeten wij met de ellende die er elke dag in de wereld is? Geschiedenis toont ons de lange opeenvolging van ellende in de wereld. Hier in Europa, in het vrije westen, leven we in een interbellum, de vredespauze tussen twee oorlogen. Want dat er oorlog komt is zo zeker als dat na de zomer de winter komt.

Ik had op gezien tegen de voorstelling #minaret. Ik had de trailer bekeken en de aankondiging gelezen. En, eerlijk gezegd, als ik niet had toegezegd om erover te schrijven, zou ik niet gegaan zijn. Vluchtgedrag. Escapisme. Het is omdat ik niet weet wat ik ermee moet. Ik vind het geweldig dat er via theater aandacht voor is, maar ik hoef het niet te zien. Net als dat ik het goed vind dat er concentratiekampen zijn die bezocht kunnen worden – maar ik hoef het niet te zien. Ik steun mensenrechten en ben lid van Amnesty International, maar het blad Wordt vervolgd ligt ongeopend op de trap – ook dat durf ik niet in te kijken. Ik kijk liever weg. Omdat ik het gevoel heb dat ik er niks aan kan doen. Ja, ik doneer en ja ik teken petities en ja ik loop mee met fakkeltochten en demonstraties. Maar ik besteed meer tijd aan Netflix entertainment dan aan pogingen het leed in de wereld te verminderen.

De voorstelling #minaret op de tweede avond van SPRING in Autumn, gaat over het oorlogsgeweld in Syrië, meer precies over Aleppo en de minaret aldaar die in 2013 door oorlogsgeweld is verwoest. Het meest opvallend is de drone die in de lucht hangt. Een drone met een camera die de dansers volgt en filmt en het beeld groot op het achterdoek projecteert. Er is Arabische livemuziek en er is dans. Dus je zou kunnen denken, als je niks weet, dat er gewoon vrolijk gedanst wordt. Maar het geweld maakt mij misselijk. Het lijkt of er lijken liggen. Er wordt met lichamen gezeuld. Er wordt gedanst vanuit angst en wanhoop. Er zijn martelscenes. De drone die alles volgt en vastlegt als een vijandelijke indringer voelt als een constante dreiging. Er is geen privacy. Moderne oorlogsvoering is dronefare. De drones doen het vuile werk en de drones filmen de gevolgen. De mensen blijven op afstand. Maar het geweld van de oorlog wordt er niet minder om. De slachtoffers zijn alleen steeds vaker de ander.

In het nagesprek vertelde Omar Rajeh over wat hem tot deze voorstelling inspireerde en dat was een video die hij op Facebook zag van een drone die een verwoeste stad in Syrië filmde. Rajeh is opgegroeid in Beiroet ten tijde van de burgeroorlog. Libanon wordt thans overspoeld door Syrische vluchtelingen. Oorlog is voor Rajeh heel wat concreter dan het voor ons, Utrechtse Schouwburgbezoekers, is. Oorlog is ofwel ver in het verleden, ofwel ver weg. En zo zal het altijd zijn, dat was de conclusie van de geschiedenislessen op school, in ieder geval impliciet.

De vraag knaagt waarom deze voorstelling zo aangrijpend is, en waarom de Hollywood actiefilms dat niet zijn? Is dat de kracht van kunst? Gaat kunst de wereld redden of tenminste een bijdrage leveren aan een vreedzamer wereld? Gandhi benadrukte dat oorlog slachtoffers maakt en dat het voor de slachtoffers niks uitmaakt wie degene is die hen leed brengt:

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy. - Ghandi

Hoe zou het zijn als alle strijdende partijen in Syrië deze voorstelling zouden zien, zouden ze dan begrijpen dat het beter is om de strijd te staken en in vrede met elkaar samen te leven? Het is een vraag waar iedereen het antwoord op weet en waarvan we het tegendeel hopen.

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Alles anders Everything is different

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 1 by philosopher Floris van den Berg

Praten met rijstkokers Talking with rice cookers

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 3 by philosopher Floris van den Berg


Everything is different


This article is only available in Dutch.


Reflecties over SPRING in Autumn, dag 1 door filosoof Floris van den Berg

Daverende derwisj dans
Bij SPRING is alles anders. Na drie ervaringen op een avond worden de voorstellingen in mijn hoofd vermengd tot één overdonderende belevenis. Na een hele dag achter een scherm werken is de openingsavond van SPRING alsof je gaat stappen in Ibiza. Dat probeer ik mij dan voor te stellen, want ik ben daar nooit geweest. Bij Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break begon de doorbraak uit de sleur en gebaande paden gelijk. Bij de ingang stond een bak met oranje chips, dat dacht ik tenminste even, maar het bleken oordoppen te zijn. Meer iets voor een dance party of metal concert. Geen stoelen. Op de zwarte dansvloer wervelden drie dansers rond in drie lichtcirkels. Het publiek zocht een plaats langs de kant. Eerst staande, maar langzamerhand gingen mensen zitten op de dansvloer. De moderne derwisj dans bracht niet alleen de dansers in een trance maar heeft ook op het publiek een hypnotiserende werking. De dans ging over in een concert met de dansers als muzikanten. Er werd al dansdraaiend een gitaar, een drum en een bekken aangereikt. Al draaiende werd er een concert ten beste gegeven. Midden in de voorstelling opeens een moment stilte en stagnatie. Prachtig. 

Wat theater tegenwoordig tot een extra intense ervaring maakt is dat het een van de weinige plekken is waar mensen nog van hun telefoon afblijven. Al ging in de Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break een telefoon met luide melodieuze ringtone af. Waar zitten mensen nog zo lang zonder hun aan het scherm gekluisterde blik? Velen zitten op de wc en aan tafel nog met een scherm voor hun neus. Wat tot voor kort heel normaal was – omdat de smartphones er domweg niet waren – is nu bijzonder aan het worden. Theater brengt de focus van attentie van een hele groep mensen samen. Van de individualistische schermen naar de collectieve ervaring. Theater is een intense gedeelde ervaring. Zodra het applaus verstomd grijpt een groot deel van het publiek alweer naar het scherm want daar speelt blijkbaar het echt belangrijke deel van het leven zich af. Dit is geen goedkope cultuurkritiek op anderen. Ik ben guilty as hell. 

De harde muziek waarvan de trillingen in heel je lichaam voelbaar waren, maakte de voorstelling intens. Erover schrijvend word ik duizelig in mijn hoofd. Hoeveel rondjes zouden de dansers hebben gedraaid? Hebben ze alle drie hetzelfde aantal rondjes gedraaid? Draaien ze elke voorstelling dezelfde hoeveelheid rondjes? Hoe voelen ze zich na de voorstelling? Bij het in ontvangst nemen van het applaus leken ze nog vast op hun witte sokken te staan. Een vraag die bij mij opkomt is: bestaat het getal van de som van het aantal rondjes van de voorstelling van vanavond? Als het is opgenomen, is het mogelijk om te tellen. Maar als het niet is opgenomen en niemand heeft geteld, bestaat dat getal dan, ook al is het niet te achterhalen? Wellicht is deze metafysische reflectie over de ontologische status van getallen van standen van zaken in de wereld, mijn doorgedraaide brein.  

Dansen op de vulkaan
Dikwijls heeft moderne dans en theater een minimalistisch decor. Maar niet de voorstelling Crash Park. Die is juist gemaakt rondom een decor. Ik heb in al de jaren geen voorstelling gezien waarbij het doek gesloten was aan het begin van de voorstelling, zoals hier. Regulier zijn eersterangs kaarten duurder, maar bij de vrije placering is er soms vrees voor de voorste rij. En daarom was er nog ruimte genoeg om midden vooraan te zitten. Zonder silhouetten van hoofden in je beeld beleef je het op de eerste rij het meest direct. 

Overlevenden van een vliegtuigramp op een onbewoond vulkaaneiland. Er ligt een vliegtuigwrak en er is een grote rotspartij met palmen, het vulkaaneiland. Het eiland draait. Een laag water op het toneel. Er is een schuimparty. De vulkaan spuwt metershoge vlammen. Er staat een pianola op het toneel die eenzaam zoetgevooisde muziek pingelt. Hoewel de overlevenden een vliegramp hebben overleefd, laten zij zich niet kisten, of is het naïviteit? Ze feesten vrolijk en zien overal de zonnige kant van in. Het eiland wordt een heus party-eiland met een bar en discotheek. Een vliegramp mag de pret niet drukken. Op het toneel ligt nog een afgerukte arm, maar helemaal niks verstoort de obsessieve vrolijkheid van de overlevenden. De voorstelling is een klucht van losse acts met muziek en weinig tekst. Verkleedpartijen naar 17de -eeuwse kleding uit de tijd van Daniel Defoe en diens Robinson Crusoë. Even lijkt het mis te gaan met komst van een zeemonster. Maar het monster wordt verslagen en vervolgens vrolijk op gepeuzeld. Helemaal niks kan de pret drukken. Er wordt gefeest en gedanst, op de vulkaan. En zolang het goed gaat gaat het goed. Après nous le déluge. 

Is de klucht wel een klucht en niet een aanklacht tegen de moderne mens die de rokende vulkaan – de ecologische crisis – in de wind slaat en vrolijk doorfeest alsof er niks aan de hand is? Als SPRING een feest is, is er in ieder geval de reflexieve ondertoon die het publiek aan het denken zet. Er is een ongemakkelijke ondertoon. SPRING biedt weliswaar entertainment, maar je krijgt het niet voor niks. De klucht van Crash Park is de harde werkelijkheid en ook al hebben we het soms door dat we dansen op de vulkaan, we doen alsof we het niet zien. We feesten om te vergeten. Misschien gaat het goed. Zolang het goed gaat, gaat het goed.

Ik moest denken aan dat vrolijke lied ‘met die sombere ondertoon Dansen op de vulkaan’ van De Dijk met daarin de regels:

Dit is de grote vrijheid
Je mag zeggen wat je denkt
Niet dat het iets uitmaakt
Met hoeveel je ook bent
Ze doen toch wat ze willen
Al moet de hele boel vergaan

Chemie van het geluk
Is de apotheek van Dries Verhoeven entertainment of een aanklacht? Het is in ieder geval fascinerend. Voor de Stadsschouwburg staat een onopvallend gebouwtje met een wit kruis. Toen ik er naar binnen wilde kwamen er net wat type drugsdealers uit. Zo bereikt SPRING ook nog eens een ander publiek en wordt het multicultureel. Er passen vier mensen in het krappe gebouwtje. Wie binnengaat komt voor een toonbank waar achter glas een vrouwelijke robot staat die vriendelijk allerlei farmaceutische gelukspillen aanprijst. Ze vertelt waar het voor dient, hoe het werkt, hoe het voelt en wat de bijwerkingen zijn en of het verslavend is. Het zijn gelukspillen. Daar zijn er veel van. Naast de legale gelukspillen die huisartsen en psychiaters voorschrijven zijn er natuurlijk ook de illegale gelukspillen waarvan er veel in Nederland gemaakt worden en waarvan de vaten chemische afval regelmatig in de natuur gedumpt worden. Maar alcohol is ook een middel voor instantane geluksbeleving en afstomping voor de werkelijkheid. En is suiker in de vorm en mate waarin wij het tot ons nemen niet ook een genotsmiddel met als bijwerking obesitas? Het streven naar genot en verdoving is niet nieuw. Roesmiddelen hebben de mensen al millennia verleid en je vindt het in vele culturen. Is geluk voor zoveel mensen dan zo onbereikbaar dat ze naar geluksmiddelen grijpen? Er zijn mensen met psychische problemen, maar hoe kan het dat zoveel mensen zoveel pillen slikken, legaal en illegaal? De apotheek zet – in tegenstelling tot een echte apotheek – aan tot kritische reflectie over waarom we eigenlijk zoveel pillen gebruiken. Het is een apotheek waar je niet met pillen uitkomt, maar met vragen over de aard van geluk en daarmee naar vragen of wij ons leven goed leven en de samenleving optimaal voor een echt gelukkig leven hebben ingericht.  
Niet alleen farmaceuten houden zich met geluk bezig. Er zijn ook filosofen die proberen geluk te bevorderen, zoals Bertrand Russell in zijn boek The Conquest of Happiness (1930). Hierbij een filosofische pil voor geluk. Aan jou om het te proberen: 

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live. 

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Dronefare op de bühne Drones on stage

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 2 by philosopher Floris van den Berg

Praten met rijstkokers Talking with rice cookers

Reflections on SPRING in Autumn day 3 by philosopher Floris van den Berg


What happens after?


This article is only available in Dutch


Blogger Liesbeth Berg-Meulenberg over Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break

Kan jij rondjes blijven draaien? 45 minuten lang? En wat gebeurt daarna?

Er staan drie performers op de vloer al cirkels draaiend in een ronde spotlight. Ze draaien 45 minuten lang om hun as. Of zijn het muzikanten? In het begin zijn de adem en de wind die ze al draaiend maken de muziek. Daarna wordt deze overgenomen door muziekinstrumenten die de performers al draaiend krijgen aangereikt.

Wat nou als je hele wereld een cirkel is waar je rondjes in blijft draaien? Wat nou als je hele wereld rondjes draait? Of nog erger: als je maar om de kern heen blijft draaien en niet uit je afgebakende cirkeltje komt?

De ronde spotlights zelf gaan ook draaien. Het hele wereldbeeld verschuift. Je staat steeds in iemand anders cirkel. Zonder de houvast van de regels, begint de onderlinge afstand tussen de performers te wisselen. En dan gaat plots het licht aan: einde.

Terwijl het voor mij dan pas echt begint. Wat gebeurt er met mensen als hun framework wegvalt, hun vaste kaders? Blijven ze dan toch zo lang mogelijk doorgaan in hun ritme of gaan ze afwijken van hun routine? Compleet losgeslagen?

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Chombotrope: opening questions on power, ownership and the future


An interview with Stephanie Thiersch and Kefa Oiro about the fashionconcert Chombotrope. 
Source: Berliner Festspiele.


The Jitta Collective is a collaboration of various artists, dancers and musicians led by the Kenyan dancer, choreographer and director Kefa Oiro and the German choreographer and media artist Stephanie Thiersch. In 2017, The Jitta Collective made the show Chombotrope, which has its Dutch premiere on 2 November at SPRING in Autumn.


Which journey is the audience invited to in your work Chombotrope?
Thiersch: A very diverse journey, a very colorful journey.
Oiro: It’s an open journey also, an open journey of rediscovery.


What does ‘chombotrope’ mean?
Oiro: It’s a made up word, an invention. ‘Chombo’ is the Swahili word for container/vessel. And ‘Trope’ is the visualization of a poetic expression. We mixed it together. ‘Chombotrope’ is for us the container in which we find ourselves and in which we make the journey together, from one geography to the next.


In what way do you consider fashion or clothes as an instrument of power?
Thiersch: Fashion is a style and it means also something. You can change your character with fashion. And in this piece we talk a lot about the use and misuse of power, and fashion is an instrument for that. It can be fake power, it can be fake weakness, it can be real power or real weakness. Fashion is a way of juggling with these notions. And it’s also a way of expressing yourself, of course. And in the end it is a way of freedom, freedom of expression and fantasy. Which I think is an important part of our work.

Oiro: It’s a definition of ownership as well. There are grouping, classes, and the identity behind it. Especially in Kenya we have conflicts of where the ownership lies and where the class divides. So there is a strong sense of ownership around it.


What is your artistic strategy to question and deconstruct it?
Thiersch: I think the fact that we work all together, and the most interesting part of the journey is that we were in different countries for the curation of the collective. But also we passed most of the time not in rehearsal space creating, but discussing the issues. Which doesn’t mean that our approach is basically political but of course it’s a deconstruction of each issue we have because we shed light on very different perspectives of the same problem or issue. So, it’s a deconstruction, it’s getting fragmented. It opens questions and doesn’t give necessarily answers.


How did you find together as a collective?
Oiro: The route to Chombotrope began when Stephanie and I were looking at the issues of clothing. It’s transformation from Europe, going all the way to Africa as a secondhand clothing and becomes an economy there. We started to explore this route and it was called mitumba, where we created a fashion setting and talked about al these questions. That gave an impulse to discuss something further around this. From there we started a research around it. Stephanie proposed different people to include. Then we had a research where we travelled to Kenya and Uganda and met interesting people. The fashion designer we work with we met in Uganda and other interesting people like musicians and DJ’s in Nairobi. Through this research of moving to this place to the next, we met interesting people and that’s how we shared collectively our materials.


Do you consider Chombotrope an Afrofuturistic piece?
Thiersch: We talked about Afrofuturism a lot but I think its something by its own and we are not creators of Afrofuturism I would say. But it’s something that is close to us and we discussed it a lot. And we definitively don’t look backwards, we look into the future. We talk about ownership and new identities and that goes towards the future definitively. So, there is something about that in it, but I wouldn’t call us Afrofuturists. The definition is also coming more from the States, right?

Oiro: Yes. But I also want to shy away from the label ‘afro’, we don’t stick ourselves to that kind of labeling. And just like Stephanie says, we do not look back but to the future. Its being open and being free to just dream and fantasize and all that. So, we let the audience that sees the performance decide from themselves, but we tend not to stick to that label.


Chombotrope takes place on Saturday November 2nd at SPRING in Autumn.

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Can a city die?


A director’s note about #minaret by Omar Rajeh

Can a city die? And with it the values, ideals, principles, history, and culture that embodied it? Would it be possible to revive its presence? This performance is an act of resistance against the demolition and destruction of one of the oldest cities in the World. It is an encounter between contemporary dance, visual arts, and a soundscape inspired from the classical musical heritage of Aleppo. A meeting that takes us into the heart of the city, digging into its cultural and artistic heritage and questioning our position towards the act of its destruction today. What remains? Everything moves, changes, and shifts around us. We experience turmoil of human, social, religious, and political conflicts. A ‘big bazar’ of lost human values and brainwashed minds. We witness a sickening applause to extremism, conservatism, and fanaticism.

Violence / Violation
While witnessing the destruction of a city and the killing and suffering of people, we ask ourselves many questions. What can I do? Do I have to do something? Am I guilty? Do I ignore it? What is my role? Am I able to change anything?
It becomes obvious that in front of the scale of atrocities and the silence of the international world we find ourselves helpless and powerless. This performance focuses on the specific moment of questioning our position and where we stand. How do we act and how are we able to respond responsibly and according to our human values?

This opens a further discussion into the role of culture and the ability of art to initiate change, to resist effectively and play a role in defending human values. Moreover, to ask how it is possible to open opportunities of change rather than fix the structures and mentalities criticized. It seems urgent to ask whom are we resisting against. Is it the fighting opponents, the conflicting parties, that are a result or an outcome, or the underneath hidden logic and policy that controls our World. The barbaric destruction of Aleppo brings me back to the destruction of my own city Beirut in 1982 by Israeli Warplanes, and the ongoing Civil War. It highlights, at the same time, the destruction of many cities in recent history. The demolition of Aleppo today and similarly of Grozny or Berlin in thepast, is not a natural disaster, it is a clear and direct decision of elimination. Not only the elimination of buildings in a city but also its inhabitants, culture, history, values, and future.

We are puzzled in front of our screens, witnessing such atrocities through the Media and we follow the daily ‘listings and calendar’ of violence. An absurd fictional scenario, or this is how it may seem, alienates us more and distances us even further. Reality is shifted by the oppressor, which not only has the ‘authority’ to destroy but also to manipulate our position towards it.


#minaret can be seen on Friday November 1st at SPRING in Autumn. 

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Jaha Koo and his talkative rice cookers


This article is only available in Dutch.


Twintig jaar geleden kende Zuid-Korea een grote economische crisis, vergelijkbaar met de financiële beurscrash in de Verenigde Staten en Zuid-Europa in 2008. Deze crisis had een grote impact op de jonge generatie waartoe de Zuid-Koreaanse kunstenaar Jaha Koo behoort. Problemen zoals jeugdwerkloosheid en socio-economische ongelijkheid zijn niet ongewoon in zijn thuisland. Maar hoe groei je op in zo’n maatschappij? Cuckoo is een combinatie tussen eigen persoonlijke ervaringen, politieke gebeurtenissen en reflecties over geluk, economische crisissen en de dood.

Cuckoo is een Zuid-Koreaans merk voor rijstkokers. Dat Koo een rijstkoker inzet als metafoor voor het hoogtechnologische Zuid-Korea, is het gevolg van een persoonlijke tragedie. Hij verloor zes vrienden door zelfmoord. “Kort nadat ik in Europa was aangekomen in 2011, pleegde een schoolvriend zelfmoord. Toen de rijstkoker die ik naar hier had meegebracht, meldde dat mijn rijst klaar was, voelde dat plots erg troostend. Het deed me dieper nadenken over de problemen in Zuid-Korea.” - De Standaard (22 FEB 2018) – Gilles Michiels. Wie had gedacht dat een machine met je mee kan leven? 

Jaho Koo en zijn vier gehackte huishoudtoestellen vertellen een bitterzoet verhaal over het leven tijdens de schrijnende recente geschiedenis. Het ‘hacken’ van de technologie van de rijstkokers is een krachtige beweging om de technologie opnieuw in eigen handen te nemen. De vier toestellen raken vermengd in een discussie rond de wenselijkheid van ‘smart’ toestellen, vanuit een origineel en grappig perspectief van de machines zelf. C4 is jaloers op de niet geüpgradede C1. C2 verwijt C3 dat zij door haar toegenomen intelligentie niet langer in staat is om haar basisfunctie, rijst koken, uit te voeren en zo haar bestaansreden is verloren. 

“In tijden van de gps met irritante stemmen en een hilarische Siri doorbreekt Koo de absolute grens die we als mens willen bewaren tussen mens en machine/robot. Hoe we zelf nog mens kunnen zijn, is de existentiele vraag die in de Cuckoos vervat zit.” - Tumult

"Cuckoo feels like a peculiar kind of dream, a communication from your subconscious, offering some truth you’ll never be able to translate into words." - Exeunt magazine


Cuckoo is op zaterdag 2 november te zien op SPRING in Autumn.

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What comes after the catastrophe?


Dramaturg of Crash Park, Camille Louis, reflects on the performance. Is the crash in Crash Park the end or a new beginning? 

Crash Park shows an outlook on our modern world. We live in a worldwide disaster park where everything is gradually falling apart - the ethos of the Enlightenment, the advances of science and an economy prone to endless ‘crises’, humanistic ideals, and more importantly, humans. We are collectively sinking. The fall has become a fixture of our lives and makes us impervious to any uprising. We, the survivors, penned in to our gated islands, are looking at those shipwrecked ships, transfixed, awed, grounded and ‘crash-landed’. 

But what if the crash is considered not as the end and the inescapable fate of our human trajectories but as a beginning? What comes after the forced catastrophe, the end of accepted, authorized and organized speech? In the theater, it is supposedly the moment of poetry when speech frees up as it breaks out of its normalized framework, leading ‘us’ beyond rationalism toward the excesses of the imagination, the fable, and the potential but unlikely pairing of reality and fiction. However, the highly contemporary artist Philippe Quesne brings his signature language to a journey between an archaic theater that indulges itself in beginnings – beginnings of worlds, beginnings of languages that do not always involve words, beginnings of images, etc – and the revived experience of a present that always comes next. 

As this paradoxical point of regained time, images are turned on their head and the island depicted by the play appears simple, uneventful and mystery-free, as if it had always been there. It is not the island of our tragic modern age but instead the little utopian place that we trivially occupy. There is no fate any longer. The play begins with a disaster and when the end is at the beginning, what remains for us takes on the appearance and quality of shared time, a common duration that we can occupy while keeping ourselves occupied. Thus, the odd little survivors of a plane crash lead us into occupation attempts that do not feel like representational ploys or talking points. Instead they convey the remains, effectively, the survivals of our current utopias that today’s doomsayers have diagnosed as ‘finished’: urban development zones, makeshift cities resulting from some kind of occupation (jungles, disused areas, abandoned buildings), phalansteries transformed by the successive attempts of communal living that fill the history of art and the history of men and women, epitomizing occupation forms that hold up not through social rules but by the simple fact that we hold on to them. Together, without any layout. 

Before the ‘penning’ of our lives became the new order of a border-expanding world that spreads us into islets separated by police-guarded and militarized seas, before the word ‘park’ was narrowed down to only one meaning – ‘closed space’ - it was a heterotopic space, an ‘other space’ like the garden or the island, right next to us. Sometimes, a few illogical artists and dreamers give us a tour of it, not taking us back to a lost past but to the junction between an endless ‘before’ and an after that becomes this present from which we can start. 

Crash Park can be seen on Thursday 31 Octobre at SPRING in Autumn.

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Spinning, Turning, Swirling


A converstation with Miet Warlop about Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break, "it is in fact like a whirlabout that is thrown out of my work and takes its course”, according to Miet Warlop. Interview by Tineke De Meyer.

How did that music enter your work?
Warlop: "I'm always looking for material that I'm not used to, to express something with. How can I make it more dynamic? How can you shake an existing thing and then discard it again, throw it out according to your own logic? In Mystery Magnet there was the investigation into painting. In my solo work it were plaster sculptures. In Fruits of Labor it was music and (spinning) movement. So great, when you're working with images and suddenly music creeps in... something that goes straight to your soul. I decided I wanted live music, but without hiding the musicians, as so often happens in theatre. If we were to do music, we were really gonna do music. So in this way, the performance has brought itself somewhere else. It makes no sense for me be the slave of an idea and to continue in a cramped energy. So I let go of the turning. But it was stuck in my head. That's where Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break came from."

'Ghost Writer', the title says, so who's writing here?
"In the performance we mix-up texts by me and Raimundas – a very good visual art writer with whom I worked in Marseille. But, yes, who is it that writes your story? People say 'Everyone writes their own story', but that’s not true. Even if you want to write your own story, if the world doesn't cooperate, you can't control it. Things just happen to you. This thought automatically brought along the Broken Hand Break. As a human being, you just have to 'go' – you just deal with what comes your way. So I didn’t mean it in a wild way, but rather intimately. Like I did with Fruits of Labor, actually I was just making a ritual for the world to have a moment to laugh at terrorism, something like that. It's wholesome. The whirling dance also has a sacred connotation. Yes, but we are more interested in profanity. Rather than reaching for something that transcends us, we want to pull things to the ground. That whirling is a state of being that also exists when we are not physically doing it, you know? I would have liked us to even be able to drink something while doing it. It's like throwing 100,000 litres of paint on a stage. Is that beautiful? No, but the underlying energy makes the audience get a sense of freedom. I think everything revolves around the attitude with which something happens, with which you pick up something and put it down somewhere else."

Your title suggests something narrative, is there a story at the base of your performance?
"It's more like thinking for a moment. A kind of outcome. If you were to rub through my work, past all those sculptures and sculptures, I am now there at the end, spinning with two others. Not really connected, but not separate either. This simplicity - not one prop, no material trick - is quite exceptional for me. For me, this spinning is being at rest, being in your own world. I need a break: what is my work at a standstill? What is my life, where does it go? Who are you, what do you stand for? Ghost Writer And the Broken Hand Break is in fact like a whirlabout that is thrown out of my work and takes its course. Turns out that..."

So your work at a standstill is in fact a sustained concentric movement. Your mind at rest remains a whirlwind?
"The 'now' means nothing, right. You look at a sequence of now, now, now, now, now, now - until you get some kind of overview. From this, you construct your memory. In the chaos, you keep searching for the middle axis. With big questions, but at the same time like a dog chasing its own tail and biting it. The restlessness in your head and your body and your world is permanent, you just have to chill in the fact that nothing is fixed. And this is exactly is the essence of the whole whirling technique. That's life, basically."

So the whirling technique is nothing more than a thought?
"Your head and body just have to become one with the space that revolves around you. Your head is used to fixed frames, as soon as they disappear, your own head can mow you down. Brain must learn. Caress your brain, everything is fine. You just go: from standing to spinning, from looking at to staring, from breathing to singing. In fact, when we are spinning, we literally can't see what's happening around us. We are blind in your midst, who are looking at us. We can't see any danger coming. We are open, now. That specific mode of being there can only exist within these walls. When we stop spinning, we use our hand to come back to where you are. Your hand is the fixed frame you always cary with you. Your hand is your brake. It's you."

Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break can be seen on Thursday 31 Octobre and Friday 1 November at SPRING in Autumn.

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SPRING receives grants from the EU and Fonds Podiumkunsten


We’re very proud to announce that SPRING has received two grants. With the support of the European Union the European network “Moving Borders” will develop a community art project that initiates meetings between people from different backgrounds and environments in the city. Next to that, the young interdisciplinary artist Samira Elagoz has received the “Nieuwe Maker” (New Artist) grant from Fonds Podiumkunsten with which she can develop herself at SPRING. We produce her next two productions and guide her in the development of her own artistic signature. Read more below!


European grant for Moving Borders

SPRING is part of the European project "Moving Borders". Together with six other European cultural institutions, the network receives € 200,000 from the European financing program Creative Europe. In the two-year project "Moving Borders", the partners are developing a community art project to initiate meetings between people from different backgrounds and social environments and in which the subject of "boundaries" is explored in different ways. The network produces seven different editions of the project, each of which zooms in on the seven European cities where the project is presented. The European cultural partners are HELLERAU - European Center for the Arts (Germany), Le Maillon / Théâtre de Strasbourg (France), Ringlokschuppen Ruhr (Germany), Teatro Municipal Do Porto (Portugal), Onassis Cultural Center Athens (Greece) and Performing Arts Institute Warsaw (Poland).


“Nieuwe Maker” (New Artist) grant for Samira Elagoz

SPRING receives the “Nieuwe Maker” (New Artist) grant from Fonds Podiumkunsten for the interdisciplinary artist Samira Elagoz. With this grant, SPRING supports Samira in the development of her artistic signature and in the creation of production and presentation possibilities. Her next two productions will be presented at SPRING Performing Arts Festival.

Samira Elagoz (1989) is one of the most remarkable young artists who has graduated from the SNDO (School for New Dance Development, Amsterdam) in recent years. Her work is very personal and at the same time sits on top of the important social and political debates of our time. It is strongly characterized by the way of life and communication of Samira’s generation. Although Samira has followed a dance education, she does not make dance productions. Samira works transdisciplinary and in different genres and contexts and she is looking for new forms to reflect on this time and the challenges we face. She makes performances as well as films and video installations. With striking ease, she combines and switches between different art forms. In 2017, SPRING successfully presented two works by Samira Elagoz; Cock, cock, who's there?, her graduation performance on online dating, sex, violence and the blurring line between public and private, and the film Craigslist Allstars in which she showcases her own intimate encounters with men. SPRING and Samira Elagoz are now going to intensify their collaboration.


Photo: Cock, cock, who's there? by Samira Elagoz

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New artists for Standplaats Utrecht


Abhishek Thapar, Julian Hetzel and iona&rineke will be working in Fort Blauwkapel from next season. Biographies for these artists are only available at the Dutch website.

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Lancering Standplaats Utrecht Launch Standplaats Utrecht

Musician and performer Genevieve Murphy, visual artist and designer Jan Fedinger and hip-hop theater collective DIEHELEDING are the first artists to start at Standplaats Utrecht.




SPRING 2019 was about robots and people, about cultural identities and global connections, about people and the city. Enjoy our extensive retrospective on a very special edition, one that we will never forget!

See you next year!!

Video: Chris van Ijken

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Standplaats serveert

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Episodes SPRING Radio 2019


On the weekends of SPRING, a radio report of SPRING was recorded. Luuk Heezen talked with SPRING artists, festivaldirectors, volunteers or fans. Did you miss the broadcasts or do you want to see them again? Read further and click on the links of the episodes below!

Episode 1
Guests: Rainer Hofmann, Shira Eviatar, Lotte Verkaik
Artistic director Rainer Hofmann discusses his tips for the festival. 
Choreographer and dancer Shira Eviatar talks about her inspiration and motivation to make the performance Eviatar/Said & Rising. 
Visitor Lotte Verkaik shares her experionce with the performance Transfrontalier. 

Episode 2
Guests: Karlien Vanhoonacker, Fang Yun Lo, Marlise Trouwborst
Artistic advisor Karlien Vanhoonacker tells us which performances she is looking forward to.
Choreographer Fang Yun Lo explains her family history, which is the starting point of the performance Unsolved.
Performer Marlise Trouwborst discusses the work Ephemeral Data, on which she is working on.

Episode 3
Guests: Jelstje In der Rieden, Silke Huysmans & Hannes Deerere, Ayham Fattouh
Managing director Jeltsje In der Rieden reveals her festival favorites.
Theater makers Silke Huysmans & Hannes Deerere created a performance on a mining-depleted island. They tell about their journey on Nauru.
Volunteer Ayham Fattouh guides visitors during their walk in PoroCity en describes his experience. 

Episode 4
Guests: Karlien Vanhoonacker, Joost Maaskant, Gido Broers & Ellen van de Mortel
Artistic advisor Karlien Vanhoonacker discusses the most memorable performances.
Soundproducer Joost Maaskant talks about the second part of PERMANENT DESTRUCTION and his work as a soundproducer.
Visitors Gido Broers & Ellen van de Mortel saw the performance Uncanny Valley and explain what it was like to see a robot on stage.

Episode 5
Guests: Rainer Hofmann, Kris Verdonck, Jacquelina Berkhout
Artistic director Rainer Hofmann looks back on a succesfull festival.
Artist Kris Verdonck tells about his performance SOMETHING (out of nothing), which premiered on SPRING.
Volunteer Jacqueline Berkhout was present at the special "uitwismoment" of Ephemeral Data and describes the experience. 

SPRING Radio was made possible by Mister Motley.

We would like to see again next year at the SPRING Radio broadcasts.

© Anna van Kooij

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SPRING 2019: Succesfull edition about technology vs humans


The seventh edition of SPRING Performing Arts Festival is over. We have enjoyed the festival, which straddled the lines between technologie and humans. The works of artists Boris Charmatz and Jeroen van Loon were an ode t transience during a time in which everything is always digitally archived. The influence of thechnology on the human body was explored by Stefan Kaegi of Rimini Protokoll and Kris Verdonck & ICK.

SPRING 2019 had 21.000 visitors. We presented a total of 20 productions with 73 performances, including 14 Dutch premieres and 3 world premieres.

SPRING 2019 brought voices from all over the world to Utrecht. In the combative Transfrontalier, the public followed the Cameroonian artist Zora Snake in the refugee trail through the center of Utrecht. The spectacular opening performance Attractor by the Australian dance companies Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc and Indonesian musical duo Senyawa ensured a collective trance. The Flemish theater makers Silke Huysmans & Hannes Dereere shared the tragic story of the mining-depleted island of Nauru with the theater audience via their smartphones.

One of the public favorites of SPRING 2019 was the bondage performance BUNNY. Luke George & Daniel Kok created an intimate atmosphere in which they explored the limits of collective responsibility and got the full trust of the public. Naomi Velissariou played the second part of her PERMANENT DESTRUCTION trilogy in a production of Theater Utrecht. A radical theatrical concert that was enthusiastically received by the press and the public. The stunning All Around, a duet by choreographer Mette Ingvartsen and drummer Will Guthrie, was a special conclusion to the festival.

We would like to see you again at SPRING in Autumn!


© Anna van Kooij

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Apparent power and complete surrender


‘WOW…’ is all I can think of when I leave the venue of the interactive performance BUNNY by Luke George and Daniel Kok. In gradual steps George and Kok guide the audience into this collective experiment of power and surrendering. When I enter the venue I don’t know it yet, but I will become part of the performance…

Beforehand I get a booklet which reminds me of IKEA instructions: inside are knots explained with little histories and backstories. I browse through it a little, but can’t make much sense of it just yet. I go in, and on the bright blue floor master George is suspending Kok in an intricate web of dark ropes. Kok wears a tight grey sports legging and macramé-braided ropes around his chest and head. George is dressed in neon colors, bright yellow ropes form a star on his chest and his kimono is dazzling pink. The dazzling colors contrast the almost tanglible tension between all attendees.

The first interaction with the audience commences when George, just after he has tied his legs, asks someone to tie his hands together. ‘Real tight,’ he says. He positions himself on the floor while Kok is still rotating in his suspension position. Gradually the spinning stops, and at this moment George invites the audience to ‘keep him spinning.’ Curious audience members are given the opportunity to participate, in a position of power relative to both suspended performers.

A sequence of disentanglements follows, while more spectators are taken along in the performance. At some point George is sitting across from me, he looks me in the eye and comes a little closer. At first I thought ‘he is not looking at me, probably someone behind me wants to go,’ but he takes place in front of me and asks if he could tie me up. I nod and he thanks me before he straps my arm together in a futomomo knot (with my hand on my shoulder and my arm folded). He guides me onto the floor en lays me down on a pillow. I am a bit tense, ‘what is going to happen to me?’ ‘how far will this go?’ but most of all: ‘how far am I willing to go?’ Kok takes over and senses my tension and starts to massage my lower legs, neck and back. Afterwards he continues strapping me down with the remaining three neon green ropes. ‘Okay,’ I think to myself, ‘while I lay here roped up, what is happening around me?’ I take a look around and see another participant being tied up. ‘I am not alone up here, I am part of a bigger picture, lying here as a sculpture of human and rope.’

Kok kneels before me again, holding up my bag: ‘is this your bag?’ he asks. I nod again, and he starts to unpack it, one item at the time. Carefully he checks every nook and cranny, even takes out all my debit cards. It was this moment other people were most curious about, ‘didn’t you feel uncomfortable?’ they asked. My answer was the same every time: it felt like my stuff, just like me, was exhibited. I didn’t have any problems with it, for it made me feel even more part of the performance. The moment I was chosen to partake, I started thinking about how I could experiment with my own boundaries, but also with the boundaries of the performance. I felt completely comfortable being exposed in such a direct personal way, even that piece (my wallet) that everyone keeps away from the outside world.

While I laid there, all my body parts tied together in a bizarre position, i noticed how at some point the ropes became an extension of my body instead of a restriction. The ropes supported me, although not for long. At some point I felt my arm and leg tingle and slowly falling asleep. As both performers said to me while making me into that sculpture, ‘if there is any moment you want to stop, just nod your head of wave your hand.’ So after an intriguing and genderbending dance routine is signed George. On the one hand I didn’t want to disturb the performance, but on the other hand I didn’t feel comfortable any more. He saw me immediately and asked what I wanted untied. Meanwhile the performance continued, another spectator was invited to spank Kok with a pink whip. ‘Don’t worry, he wants it,’ George says while loosening my leg. Again the power play shifted from performer to the audience.

For me the performance was mostly about communication in such situations of power and surrender. At first i thought George in his role as master would be in control, for he decided what happened to Kok and the audience in certain parts of the performance. He also directed them at moments when the participants appeared to be in control (like the invitation to keep Kok spinning, or the spanking later on). However, the moment I laid there tied up on the ground, I realised that the bunny is actually in control. When they say ‘stop’, the master stops, listening and sensing very carefully. At the same time the bunny gives away some power, trusting the other to respect their boundaries. This mutual respect, sensitivity and trust ensures a intimate communication between both parties. I felt a connection, which extended to the day after when I ran into Kok in the ‘festivalhart’, and we greeted each other with a hug. BUNNY for me was an experience I would recommend to everyone - if only to explore your own limits. It gave me new perspective on successfully involving the audience into a performance, and on the importance of the presence of both these parties in theatre events. Both the performer and the audience do not exist without each other - every experience of every attendee can leave a deep mark. I want to thank Luke George and Daniel Kok for this extraordinary experience, BUNNY i will remember for the rest of my life.

By Sofie Revet

© Bryony Jackson

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Ephemeral Data leaves no recognisable trace behind it


Over ten days ‘Ephemeral Data’ was created, worked upon and on the final day, obliterated.

In this visual investigation, the performers work with coloured sand in the construction of a mandala depicting a giant Google map of the city of Utrecht.
Additional markers of internet hotspots are depicted throughout, as well as a location point.

Housed within a large white tent with many windows, entrance is via a side door.
After being advised that Ephemeral Data is not to be documented, a sticker was placed upon my phone’s cameras and I enter the space.

Over the course of the festival, visitors witness the slow and meditative building of the mandala.
The performers work silently, seperate from one another.

With calm faces, I cannot tell how they feel but there is a total engrossment and occupation with their activity.

Each sit with a metal pipe and a wooden stick they use to gently coax increments of sand onto the glass squares that form the base of the work.

Set within the Neude in Utrecht, a bustling square with the open air cafe seating, bikes hurtle by and people peer through the windows encasing Ephemeral Data.

With life outside visibly chaotic, the space within contrasts as contemplative, consistent and largely silent.

As the mandala grows, I begin to think about personal attachment and how we negotiate the temporary elements of our lives.

With the internet a dominant force in most of our existences, we rely upon it for work, entertainment and communication, as well as for projection of self-image.

But nothing on the net is definite or even permanent, how many times have you attempted to visit a favourite music video on Youtube and find it has been removed?
Or a familiar webpage has been entirely reformatted?

We have little to no control over the ever-changing nature of the online world and yet we are so heavily invested in it as an entity, a necessity for life.

Social media platforms and their popularities shift and change over time and demographic and often exist as attempted curations of what we view as our non-embarrassing traits.

In the past when you liked a musician, you had to go to a shop and purchase an album, in the years to come the object would exist within the home.

You may come across the album now and again and think, ‘wow, that was an era, a time in my life. I forgot that I even liked that band.’ 

In the internet age our fleeting likes and dislikes are searched and experienced online, leaving behind no tangible evidence of our tastes and dreams of a time and eventually wiped away with the clearing of our web histories.

Everything has become intangible, less permanent than ever before.
And with this being the case, how can we look back and remember the large quantities of the eras we now live online?

Ephemeral Data reflects this lack of permanence, with the mandala constructed from the very material used in fibre optics (which must exist for the internet to), the performers invest time and energy in something they know will very soon cease to objectively exist.

There is a natural fear present to need to document everything, what if I forget some key element?
I must be able to look at a photo, to retrace that step.

But documentation of this performance is not allowed.
Everything experienced here must be remembered in our imperfect memories.
I get anxious thinking about it.

The moment of obliteration arrives.
It must be witnessed in person to have ever existed, no other record will document this process.

The performers are neutral, seemingly unaffected by their involvement in creation or destruction.
I wonder why they are like this?

I had not touched a grain of sand and yet as the more detailed squares of Ephemeral Data are poured off their glass base into a growing heap, I feel my heart mourn in a slow and sad way.

All that exists now is a grey pile of sand with glimmers of colour hinted on the exterior.

The sand shows no signs of what it had once been, the process, imagery and feelings that were created.

A physical version reenactment of our current engagement online, Ephemeral Data leaves no recognisable trace behind it.

By Diana Story

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SPRING In Autumn

This information is only available at the Dutch website.

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What remains of nature lies in wait for this annihilation to be over


​​​​​​The stage is still, vast and dark, the crowd before it waits silently for SOMETHING (out of nothing) to begin.

With the tiniest glimmer of light revealing her existence, a woman sits in the back left corner of the stage.
She doesn’t make eye contact or break the atmosphere with her voice.
She has a cello.

A minimalistic string plucking commences.
It is not song but the sound of something happening.
My eyes are fixed upon her, in trepidation for what will happen next.

A small blue imperfect orb begins its descent from the ceiling.
There is haze around this unknown shape, it brings a further mystery to what it is composed of?
Is it purely light?
Is it physical?
As time unfurls, so does the orb.
It slowly opens into a full form.
Although abstract it has a stem and what looks like a flower at the top.
My mind decides this is an unusual type of tulip.

As fast and as alien as it grew before us, it shrivels, deflates and retracts its bodily form within itself and disappears from sight, leaving us questioning what it was that we had just witnessed.

With the stage empty apart from the silent cellist, a voice broadcasts.
It’s the sort of accent I can imagine global-English sounding like in futuristic times, it is well polished and perhaps Canadian.

Her speech is allegory, directed toward ‘you’ but the identity of ‘you’ is unestablished.
She speaks from a place of helplessness, a time after the destruction of the earth and all things natural, she is unable to restore the damages we have inflicted.
She addresses the audience as ‘you,’ seemingly I and every audience member has a role in the descent of the earth as we know it.

Ending this segment of speech, she asks whether she can tell us a story.
We learn of an island ‘we would call paradise,’ where it was believed that spirits live in the trees and if a person was to cut a tree down, certain death equated.

One day a man travels to another island and buys a chainsaw.
He returns and fells a tree.
Nothing happens.
Humanity is in disbelief.
They too begin to cut the trees they had once held with such esteem.

And thus the story begins to (as the unknown object before us had) unfold.

Four people enter the stage, two wear pink dresses in slightly different patterns and cuts.
The other two, grey suits similar to each other but not the same.
Instead of skin, their bodies are encased in black fabric, their heads with domed masks.
In the right light, you can just catch a glimpse of what may be a face underneath.

Their bodies are tireless, they sway their arms and test the extents of their physicality.
It reminds me of when you are a child and your teacher tells everyone to wait and be silent in the classroom.
They silently interact with their surrounds, with the others around them.
There is this feeling that they have entirely nothing to do, an aimless boredom consumes the stage.

Part absurd, part surreal, in this initial sequence, we witness a depiction of the first sign of the earths demise, humans no longer necessary, purposeless.

In segmented transitions, the voice returns narrating the development of global circumstances, the dancers portray the lessening control of individuals upon their altering physicality and unearthly forms proliferate, engorge and rescind.
Physical embodiments of the present impact of our obsession to ‘progress’.

The voice returns, there is a certain rage and surety in her words, her tone.
In these narrative sequences, she repeats certain phrases both convicted and broken by what she tells.

‘I cannot move, I cannot make whole what has been broken.’

She speaks of the decline of the earth.

‘I am afraid of the rain, the sun and the wind.’

Something once so natural has become insidious and toxic from the influence of humans.

The cello plucking and hisses become more and more rapid, both calculatedly controlled but entirely chaotic.

Dancers enter a new segment, their movements wilder than ever before.
They no longer have dresses nor suits.
Are they human?

The narrator returns.
She has heard the cries of nature that exist on another frequency, entirely inaudible to humanity.

The desire to ‘progress’ reigning so supreme that humans become entirely unaware of nature and blindly smother its attempts to communicate its suffering.

The unearthly forms that once innocuously descended from the ceiling have multiplied and exist alongside what were once humans.
They don’t seem to notice them.

‘The flowers are blooming but they have no scent.’
‘I cannot move, I cannot make whole what has been broken.’

The narrator speaks of the demise of our children, our partners and eventually our entire families.
When it happens we don’t believe it, despite living in the reality of this dystopia.

Alongside the road we have wrapped a deceased elderly woman and dead cow in the same plastic, world unbalanced.

We are unable to cope.

‘Trash is all that remains from progress.’

Black snow falls upon the earth.

Modified creatures roam, absorbing elements through their  anomalous forms, no longer human.

What remains of nature lies in wait for this annihilation to be over.

I start to wonder whether this narrator is intended as an embodiment of Mother Nature and perhaps it is only at this moment any of us have been able to hear her?

By Diana Story 
© Bas de Brouwer

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Dancer in the dark

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Magic with an on-stage robot

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Dancing against repression

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Nostalgia towards folkdancing

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Circus of 10,000 movements

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SPRING Academy: experience the relationship between sound and dance

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Lessons from Nauru that nobody listens to

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“We waren benieuwd naar de perspectieven die resten op een plek die kapot is.” "We wanted to know what perspectives there might be in a place that is so devastated"

Interview with Silke Huysmans en Hannes Dereere about Pleasant Island. 


"What do we project onto, and into, this absence? Fantasy, horror, desire, and so much more."


Angela Goh is an Australian dancer and choreographer working with dance in theatres, galleries, and telepathetic spaces. Her work considers the body in relationship to commodity, materiality, technology, and feeling, and explores how meaning is both revealed and obscured through image making. Angela Goh preforms her performance Uncanny Valley Girl at SPRING. 

What was your motivation to work in the performing arts?

I think motivation always somehow crosses over with circumstance, chance, or where you find yourself already. For example, I started dancing when I was very young, after my mother and doctors realised I had a femoral torsion, which meant my legs were rotated inwards 90 degrees. The doctor suggested the best therapy would be ballet lessons. So I started dancing at a young age and kept it up, taking up different styles, and eventually I realised I could study dance and make a career in it. Somewhere along the way I became motivated to work in choreography, informed by so many other things besides dancing. Dancing was my background and experience, so it became a material to work with, a framework for relating to things and ideas. And now I work with choreography more as a container for bringing together people, things, ideas, and modes of thinking. I work with dance not necessarily as a mode of expression, but rather as a material that can produce relationships between things, people or ideas. For me, choreography is the container, and dance is the interface.

What drives your creativity?
I'm mostly driven by following ideas, learning things, connecting things in ways that alter my relationship to or understanding of them. My desire to work is driven by curiosity, which is ongoing. But what drives my ‘creativity’, well, maybe deadlines!

What do you think about the role of theatre and dance in society?
My concerns are more with thinking about the function of dancing, rather than its role, per se. Outside of creating, watching or doing dance within an artistic context, dance has a social function, and it functions as a mode of expression. I was specifically thinking about this when I made Uncanny Valley Girl, because I was considering how dancing might function differently for a machine. Why would a machine dance? If a human being dances for social, cultural or emotional reasons, and we can assume that a machine doesn't dance for those same reasons, then when a machine dances it becomes either kind of cute, or extremely unsettling. And I'm very interested in this relationship between cuteness and horror, and what that opens up.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
At the moment, specifically, worms, horror, Giselle, AI, fembots, cowgirls, flower arrangement, surveillance, the dark, ballet, pop stars, puppetry, energy drinks, the Californian Desert, my image of China, bath bombs, shooting ranges, slumber parties, and mostly and always, dancing. And in terms of who, specific to Uncanny Valley Girl, always and forever the most amazing collaborators Corin Ileto and Holly Childs; they are 100% pure inspiration. I'm so lucky to have been able to work with them on this piece.

What role did the theatre play in your childhood?
Not a big one, I hardly ever went to the theatre. What did play a big role was dancing, but not watching it, doing it - I took dance lessons every day after school, and on weekends, too. But I’d rarely go see a dance performance, my interest in and knowledge of dance came from dancing, not watching. This is the thing that has remained interesting to me - if dance is something one experiences through the act of doing, through participation and the physical experience of embodiment, then what does it mean to be watching dance? What does dance do when it’s presented to a spectator in an artistic context? For me this isn’t a question solved simply by implementing some participatory practice, it’s something to work with - this relationship between image and embodiment, and how that can be more than just representation, but can always become something else completely.

What was the starting point for creating this show?
Uncanny Valley Girl really started with an interest in what absence can produce. At some point, presence, or ‘being present’ became quite important in dance and performance, especially within the field of improvisation and somatic practices. It is related to being a ‘strong performer’, in terms of ‘stage presence’. Somehow, I was suspicious of this, especially when the term is used in contexts like ‘mindfulness’, self-help, self-care, self-improvement, self-motivation. Self, self, self, politics; somehow the notion of presence became co-opted by neoliberalism and individualism, and my suspicion grew. I wanted to know what absence could offer. Not absence in terms of inaction or disappearance, but rather what it would mean to show up with absence, or to be present precisely through absence. The idea of absence opens up a specific kind of darkness; when we aren’t blinded by someone’s presence or something that can reflect ourselves back at us, we are forced to look into the void. What can we see there? What can we imagine there, or become there? So Uncanny Valley Girl started with this investigation into presence and absence and modes of performativity, and then the idea of the uncanny valley came in, the idea of lifelessness and horror, and then the figure of the android as something that ‘embodies’ this absence so well. What do we project onto, and into, this absence? Fantasy, horror, desire, and so much more.

Why are you interested in technology and gender?
My interest lies in what the relationship between the two might mean. Uncanny Valley Girl investigates the aspects of fantasy and horror within this relationship. If machines are consistently coded as feminine, while the collective fear persists that machines will rise up and destroy us, then what does that imply for our collective fear of the feminine rising up? Uncanny Valley Girl is not about either technology or gender, instead, it uses the trope of the fembot as a lens to frame an investigation into the entanglement of desire and fear.

What impact do you want to have on the audience? What feelings/experience should the audience expect?
Well, after the responses from audiences both in Australia and Europe it’s really difficult to say what feelings people should expect. Responses have been so varied, some people couldn't hold back their laughter they found it so humorous, some cried, some thought it was terrifying, some thought it was really erotic. It’s hard to say what people should expect. I think because the work somehow deals with a sense of absence, an emptiness, everyone projects into that void whatever they want. I think that is really interesting. I wouldn't want to predict or control the impact of my work on an audience, because it’s not about giving answers. It’s about opening up a multiplicity of propositions.

What are you working on right now?
I’ve done research for a new work about the horrors of absorption, which I’m developing through a series of residencies over this year. I’m also working on new collaborations with Holly Childs, and Su Yu Hsin, as well as having the pleasure of being a performer in the works of artists Mette Edvardsen, Louise Ahl, Adriano Wilfert Jensen, and Holly Childs & J. G Biberkopf. And I just keep working on life as an artist - how does one do it?!

What is your biggest artistic dream to achieve?
I think it is important to have goals, and it might even be important for them to be achieved, or at least worked towards, but dreams, well, I think dreams should be reserved for something separated from the notion of achievement. I guess my answer might be: one goal I want to achieve is to keep open the possibility to dream, to be able to experience dreaminess, alone and with others, and to have the time and support to do so.

You can catch Uncanny Valley Girl on 24 and 25 May in Theater Kikker. 

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Speech by Artistic Director Rainer Hofmann

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A moment of mindfulness

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Minimalistic dance

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What is orchestrated? What is reality?


Venturing into the futuristic surrounds of the Stadskantor for the first time, an immediate confirmation of the imagery that pop culture has presented as depicting our future world and existence occurred.

Aesthetically every film from Kubrick’s ‘2001: Space Oddessey’ to Jonze’s ‘Her’ now seemed to make sense, this building visually representing our future aspirations, the constant update of technology and our global obsession with image.

Finding ourselves in a small fragmented huddle within a vast foyer space, we hear a short introduction of PoroCity by choreography Andrea Božić. 

It doesn’t give away much. 
We are encouraged to stay silent.
To turn off our phones. 

A figure in green detaches himself from the group, his body is commanding, sure, his face neutrally expressioned. 
He is excited. 

He has heard of a brand new water park, it is meant to contain all of his wildest desires. 

A performer in red questions the performer in green. 
She too is commanding and existent in her own reality but in brief moments they engage and question one another. 

With descriptive sentences spoken adamantly, the performer in green arrives and is bitterly disappointed. 
This water park is a lie.
All he sees are spas. 
Spas extending throughout his horizon line, outside and even towering upwards on multiple architectural levels. 
With curiosity and disappointment, he walks his surrounds. 
People fill this peculiar place. 
There is judgement in their eyes.
A sudden awareness that he is an outsider and not welcome… 
Their piercing glares burn metaphorical holes in his body as he breaks unknown rules by walking through the now milky spas. 
This action seemingly forbidden from this water park. 

We (the viewer) transform into this crowd, we peer at him largely with little emotion shown on our faces. 
He becomes aware that he is naked and is initially ashamed. But we do not shame him for that. 
Our exclusion is specific and unidentified, yet continually present. 
He wants to get out but can’t find the exit.

Upon his escape, we follow the performer in green up the escalators and into a world of dreams, seemingly located throughout the building. 
The performer in red speaks once more, within the same space they concurrently describe the situations they exist within.

A spoken convergence between both red and green continues in certain moments, providing an explanatory bridge that questions the sureties of the spoken statements of the one other. 

Challenging established dream-logic. 

The performer in red is happy at first, she has found a group of people to belong to. 
They all wear colourful sports jackets. 
With joviality and hope, she follows them up a hill united with the group mentality. 
She does not know where they are going. 

When they gather as a group, one gives another a pill.
Initially seeming harmless, a sudden intuition kicks into her mind. 
This pill causes imminent death. 
She wants to intervene but she cannot find the right words. 

With communality, each sports-jacket wearer blindly consumes their own pill, while internalised panic occurs in the performer. 

She knows she cannot escape. Her death is inevitable. 
Her intuition overpowered as she has enters a fixed state, paralysed and frozen, much like a trapped animal hypnotised by it’s predator. 
I couldn’t help but to think of people who join cults and demise within this setting. 

With all of this occurring as we move throughout the varying locations of the building, the viewer finds themselves in a constant shifting position.

Building elements are sometimes used by the performers as they describe their personal surrounds within their performative sequence.
This brings not only a subtle situational reminder but makes the viewer consider their own waking lives and wandering thoughts. 
And moreover that in every space any given person exists within their own personal reality fused with a slippage of fantasy or imagination.

These blurred boundaries are reinforced by the shifting vocal projection of the performers, each having a small speaker on their lower back. 
With their vocal tones varying slightly dependent on where the viewer stands, this only contributes to the sensation of the surreal, the meeting place between dream and reality. 

Entering a narrowed space, we are lead towards a tall thin iron bar standing vertically upright. 
We can hear sounds coming from it. 
I am unsure if this is normal here, an element of this futuristic building. 

As we move away, a man bumps into the bar.  It falls. 
The sound petrifying.
I jump out of my own skin.
And become suspiciously aware of the physicalities of my location, I begin to distrust every pipe or potentially unnecessary building element and feel anger towards the sounds I hear, having previously been at ease with them. 

What is orchestrated? What is reality? 
Why does this indistinction make me deeply uncomfortable?

A new sequence begins. 

The performer in green steps through a white curtain. He is in a boundless picturesque Croation landscape. 
The performer in red steps through a white curtain.
She is in a peculiar public toilet. 
There are no walls here. 
Simply toilets on the ground with a transparent pipe.
She is confused. 
Unwantedly someone demonstrates and normalises this toiletry procedure. 
She is uncomfortable with the space and with those around her. 

Suddenly, uncontrollably she also must evacuate her bowels.
So see does as she has seen. 
The shit travels up the pipe, visible and unashamed. It finishes its journey dispensed in a metal drain on the floor. Exposed. 

The performer has deep shame. 
The shit suddenly fills her mouth. 
She gags, is horrified, feeling bound and trapped. The performer enacts extreme vomiting. 

She feels humiliated as if she is unwillingly part of some kind of nasty plan that those in this public toilet must have been aware of. 
She is finally able to get the shit out of her mouth but the chunks remain. She is entirely disgusted, so much so that she can barely cope with the situation at hand. 

This segment of the performance reminded me of the exhibition 'Goldene Bend'er' I’d seen by Australian artist Mikala Dwyer at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art back in 2013. 

As part of the exhibition, there had been a performance work where ornately dressed figures with faces shrouded by medieval hooded masks circled a public room and began to empty their bowels into clear cylindrical containers. 

Although both this performance work and Dwyer’s both were both connected to our responses and feelings to do with human waste, the sense of control of the participants in these rituals was vastly different. 

While Dwyer’s had seemed as if the performers were participating in an established normalised ritual simply on display to a bemused audience, Porocity’s was brutal and horrifying. 

Control was taken from the performer. 
She could no longer hold in her need to shit. 
Then attempting desperately to normalise the situation and act as she had seen. 

Only for the most humiliating to be senselessly inflicted on someone innocent in the situation.

Meanwhile, the green performer is exploring the wild landscape in Croatia, marvelling at his witness of plant and ecological growth. 

In a later situation, we accompany the red performer on her walk with her friend. 
Air balloons without a basket float temptingly by. Her friend grabs the rope. 

The performer doesn’t know why but supposes she better join her. 
After a majestic but terrifying flight across Europe, they have landed.

And with a sudden turn, the performer is angry. She has been mislead. 
There was meant to be treasure there. 
Suddenly the situation was a ‘scam’. 
I wondered what inner decision had shifted an unplanned balloon flight into the expectation of finding treasure? 

The performer blames all of those who surround her. 
She refuses to take responsibility for her decision to grab the rope and begin the flight. 

As a viewer to Porocity at times, we became various people throughout each performers situation. 

We inflict paralysing fear. 
We silently ostracise. 
We become shop attendants. 
We transform into bears. 
We were predators. 
We were bystanders. 
We inflicted discomfort. 
We were initiated by eye contact and by the performers nomination. 

At times I was unsure who was formally a part of this performance and whether that even mattered?

The ambiguity became more engaging than my desire to structure the experience. 

As viewers, we watched imagination feed into reality. 
We witnessed human insecurity and our tendency to disregard intuition while only later being forced to rely upon it. 

The duality of dreams and the influences of day to day life are viscerally displayed and thus inner narratives that exist in each person that are largely left dormant and untold are exposed. 

By Diana Story

© Thomans Lenden

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Database of attidudes

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Naked cheerfulness of the Homo ludens

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And I wonder, where do all these memories and identities go as time continues to shift?


‘’Unsolved’’ commences with a darkened stage, a man and his voice narrating his story to tell. 

A roller door opens, revealing a desolate, uninhabited and almost monochrome house. Built by his father and grandfather as a grand venture to house to their extended family, now well-worn and unused, ambitious metal poles extend from the roof and point hopefully into the sky – the possibility for physical expansion idealised. 

With an bashful initial disclaimer about the chance that their identity as Taiwanese Hakka could be considered ‘fake,’ as only one grandparent speaks their original language, elements of the inhabitants identities are introduced. The languages from groups that occupied Taiwan emerge in song and adjoin whispered by different family members, these voices from the performers memory remaining constantly present throughout his narrative. Creaks, sounds reminiscent of fluorescent lighting and bodily noises jarringly provide a soundtrack throughout the journey. 

A grandmothers voice begins to sing in Japanese, contrasted with a long-unused kitchen, she sings a song from her childhood of birds flying together – perhaps reflecting her aspirations for her family. On a darkened stage, the performer’s face is pushed one way, his body another, ducking and weaving, becoming a child submissive to the memories of the adults dominant in the house. A physical re-enactment of his childhood reminiscent of the phrase ‘better seen, not heard.’

Half-dance, half neurotic, the performer dusts his projected lounge room in a repetitive pattern, the screen jolting and jumping in response to his actions.Dynamics within this family inhabitance unfurl, a father forced to work from a young age, in constant fear of the economy.The performer begins a defensive, untrusting fight against the abandoned and unassuming rooms of his family home.Projections of discarded objects from another time and marked walls from the home move their closest to the audience creating a sudden feeling of situational suffocation.

A mother who bottled and refused to acknowledge injustice, aiming to be ‘discreet’ and neat. Deep seeded family resentfulness towards the long-term unemployed grandfather. With revelations about the life and secrets of the grandfather revealed, lies uncovered that disguised the marks of torture that he had been subjected to during a terrifying period of political disaster.

Voices of family members reflecting upon their life in their home with one another play as the performer relives his childhood reality, contrasting the variations of two peoples experiences in the same environment. Despite the turbulence and pressure during his youth, slowly and surely we witness the growth and strengthening of the performer as he triumphs in the formation of his identity and love of hip hop and dance and eventual his detachment from his family.  Family culture and its effect upon childhood experience is explored deeply but moreover the indeterminant and unquantifiable inherited ramifications of hidden family histories. Equally connecting the physicality of the house as corresponding to the actions and beliefs of its inhabitants provides a fascinating insight to the separate identity a home can hold in the memories of each person who has lived within its walls.

On a personal level, “Unsolved” naturally reawakens memories of childhood, family and home in the viewer. Thinking about home, I remembered the family house of my father, where he and his siblings had lived and grown up and where I lived as a teenager, having left my childhood home for the very first time. The house was owned by my grandparents for fifty-seven years until we helped clear out its vast possessions when they could no longer live there independently. With both of them surviving enormous hardship in their youths, my father and his siblings were influenced by their characters, strong religious convictions and no doubt their traumas.

Learning about the suffering of the grandfather in “Unsolved,” I thought about my own Opa. He had survived the occupation of the Netherlands during war and had been taken as a prisoner by the Nazis and being naturally gifted with language, forced to be their translator while they starved him and killed his friends. It was many years before anything emerged about my Opa’s experiences in the war and when they did they were far more horrifying that any of us could have imagined. This trauma impermeably lived wherever he did and embedded itself in the tangible and intangible traits throughout my family, its presence seemingly a permanent element of the family psyche. As time passed by and the inevitability of change ensued, our family home no longer stands and a new one has taken its place, with a new family and new memories being created. 

"Unsolved" tells an important biographical story of life and childhood in Taiwan and the effects of political change and occupation on individuals. And I wonder, where do all these memories and identities go as time continues to shift?  

By Diana Story

© Yun Quan Lin

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Home is where my family is


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Global Affairs: borders, dances and identity


By Karlien Vanhoonacker

With the Global Affairs line, the SPRING 2019 programme takes you to a wide range of places across the globe. What is the impact of our place of origin? What determines our cultural identity? And how can we maintain a connection between these two elements in this increasingly globalised world? The artists asking the most relevant questions in this area are predominantly young. Their fresh, but more importantly, open and critical outlook, alongside their refreshing, energetic approach makes spectators see the world through different eyes. You will not only take away a different view on their world, the specific place they zoom in on, but you will also have a fresh perspective on your own home and the way we are all inextricably connected with each other as human beings. To put it more strongly, not only do many of the questions and themes we tackle seem universal, they are also increasinly interconnected on a global scale.

The Taiwanese choreographer Fang Yun Lo (Unsolvedis taking a literal approach to the search for her origins, by returning to her family home and her family’s history. Her dancer Chih Wen Cheng uses urban dance to guide us through her childhood home which is evoked by video-projections on the walls of a staged installation. She reminisces on her early years in 1980s Taiwan, but at the same time she puts those formative years behind her for good. And all the while, she tackles the big existential questions of our times. What is a home? And how does the youngest generation deal with the unresolved conflicts of the preceding generations?  

Shira Eviatar (Eviatar/Said & Rising) is an Israeli choreographer who brings together widely different dance traditions. Traditions that exist alongside each other: the Jewish-Yemeni tradition and the Palestinian on the one hand, and the Yemeni and Moroccan on the other. Both her dancers know their movements intimately, as they are part of Arabic-Jewish festive traditions. Choreographer Shira Eviatar uncovers the origins of these movements in fascinating ways in her show, stripping them of their context. She brings the kinship and the differences between the dances to the surface, showing us how two dance traditions differ, yet are able to connect, both within a single solo in the body of a single dancer, and in a duet. 

The young dancers Mitra Ziaee Kia and Hiva Sedaghat (Through the Skin) depart from a largely non-existent dance tradition in Iran. Or, to be more precise, from the difficult position of contemporary dance in a country where dance is largely forbidden, and female bodies especially must be covered in public at all times. The effort, therefore, these young dancer/choreographers’ have made to create a show about intimacy, is daring in itself.

Where the Israeli Shira Eviatar focuses on movement, dance, elements from traditional celebrations in different religions, different sections of a population, and places them alongside each other to address the political realities in Israel, Roee Rosen (Theatre of the Awkward) takes a different approach. Recurrent themes in his work are the representation of structural violence and desire. As a painter, writer, film maker and visual artist with a strong presence at the latest edition of Documenta 14, he undermines the normative impact of identity and identification in his artistic universe, by using fictionalisation and irony. He mixes current Israeli and world politics with mythical and historical references to European and Jewish history. In Theatre of the Awkward he presents both a work-in-progress of his Kafka for Kids and the live performance Hilarious: a dysfunctional stand-up comedy. And Roee Rosen persists in linking current politics pursued in his ‘heimat’ to world politics, two strands that are inextricably linked.

In Pleasant Island, the second instalment of a trilogy two young theatre makers, Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere, are devoting to the worldwide economic, social and political impact of the mining industry, they present their take on the island of Nauru. British whalers once nicknamed the island in the Pacific Pleasant Island because of its wealth of natural resources. What was once an earthly paradise, is now a ransacked, poor and exhausted country where, to make things worse, Australia has located an enormous refugee camp. Refugees rarely ever leave the place, yet it also never quite offers them a home.

The global apparentness and unavoidability of the impact of international politics and economic inequality are demonstrated by the Cameroonian artist Zora Snake. With his live performance Transfrontalier he confronts both the audience and people in the street with the physical realities of borders. In the Utrecht city centre he literally demonstrates the pain and the obstacles refugees are subjected to. He shows us the every-day reality at the borders of Fortress Europe that we decline to be confronted with. Zora Snake is thus not only using public space as his stage, but more importantly, as a place for encounter, a forum for debate, and a space for confrontation and dialogue. A confrontational, danced dialogue about borders and identity and the way they determine where we call home.

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Refugee trail with obstacles

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Ritual for unbelievers

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"I wanted to rediscover dance, specifically the necessity for dance and its connective power."


Tzeni Argyriou studied dance and choreography. For more than 10 years she has been generating choreographic work that focuses on integrating the performing arts with other artistic genres. After exploring the merging of media constructs with performance, she has currently returned to the analogue body and the empowering qualities of collective physical experiences. This year, she is presenting her show ANΩNYMO at SPRING.

What drives your creativity?
I observe what is happening around me, especially human behaviour under different socio- political conditions. The observation awakens certain needs, desires, thoughts or questions. When something jumps out and “locks” in my mind, then this becomes the topic, the magnetic centre of ideas and imagination. So, in a way, this is about the content.
When rehearsals start, things might change, and my creativity then is driven by the work itself. Which means that my ideas and directions, together with the people taking part (performers/collaborators), plus time and space, transform the work to a living organism that triggers other layers of my creativity.

What do you think about the role of theatre and dance in society?
I guess they can play many roles, depending on the times. They can predict, warn, or remind, and they can transfer knowledge. They can also awaken people’s desire for things, internal elevation, critical view, and also emotions. Furthermore, it highlights different perspectives that we tend to forget because our everyday lives are so busy. Somehow art needs to function as a modern oracle…

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I cannot isolate a single biggest inspiration; it’s a combination of many. I grew up in a beautiful small town named Kavala where both the sea and the mountains were close, in a carefree time, always playing in the neighbourhood with other kids, so teamwork. Greece in general is a big inspiration for me. I was also inspired by some of my teachers who transferred their love, passion and dedication to dance and art in generous and gentle ways. I was lucky to travel a lot, to meet and talk to different people from different origins, ages, backgrounds.  

What role did dance play in your childhood?
It was very important during my childhood. It made me feel like I belonged. I remember attending a dance school in my hometown and being unable to wait for the next class or to stop dancing at home. It gave me such joy, power and freedom. And it was truly important since it provided me with other tools to express myself (bodily instead of verbally). It was a place to learn, to try, to share and not a career-oriented training. This came after. I also belong to this generation that watched ‘Fame’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’ on TV.  

What was the starting point to create this show?
The starting point was my observation on how technology has not only entered our lives, but also shaped and defined our bodies and relationships. There is a proportional relation between the increase of online digital interaction and the decrease in social physical connection. How do we share experiences with others? And what do we share with others? I also look towards a technological understanding of anonymity, a digital arena where privacy is under threat. All of these factors have intrigued me for many years, and just after I had had my first child I was asking questions like ‘where are we headed to’, and ‘what kind of experiences, memories and life are my kids going to have’.  In the end I felt an urgent need to go beyond digital communication and redefine the ways people connect while they are physically present.

Why did you want to make this show?
I wanted to rediscover dance, specifically the necessity for dance and its connective power, of being and sharing physically together inside our social frame. This led us to pre-choreographic forms of collective actions and expressions which were based on human contact, grip, group cohesion, shared joy. So, the project explores different ways of traditional dancing, singing, rhythms and patterns and other anonymous forms of ‘art’, also found in architecture or even in agriculture, that have been binding us as cultural beings for centuries. Connecting with others, with yourself, with the universe; all these different connections are somehow therapeutic; physical expressions and purifications that can make you feel better and build a better society. My intention was to find bridges to connect bodies in an age dominated by physical detachment, and to reflect upon the possibilities that collective cultural values can offer in an era marked by digital individualism.

What was your personal highlight during the making of this performance?
It was actually the first day of rehearsing after a long time of planning. I wanted to start with the digital communication section, and I had asked the performers to make a new Facebook profile, a digital persona they would like to have in Anonymo. The plan for the first rehearsal was to create a Facebook group, without knowing who is who, and my partner and I would digitally give the dancers all the scores, tasks, and directions in the group. So communicating digitally while being physically present, all in the same space, but not knowing who is who. We logged in and within 15 minutes Facebook blocked all our profiles, one after another! And at that very moment a big man entered the studio; we all thought he was police or FBI! Turned out he was just a delivery guy!

What are you working on right now?
I have new concepts that I would like to start working on, so at the moment I am working on the conditions, applications, meetings etc. that will make these works possible. Being a freelance artist living off this work is not an easy thing…

You can catch ANΩNYMO di 21 en wo 22 mei in Theater Kikker.

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SPRING starts today!


This edition is about robtos and humans, about cultural identities and global relations, about the people and the city. We're crossing Uncanny Valleys and Pleasant Islands and leading through a wide range of genres and art forms.

Attractor unites two of the best Australian dance companies, Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc, traditional Indonesian folk idioms and heavy metal vocals, virtuoso dancers and audiences. Before this opening show you have the opportunity to visit the performance Transfrontalier by Zora Snake during the opening in the public space. The artist tackles the question how we can escape borders by literally opening himself up to the hope, pain and obstacles that are so characteristic of the long road travelled by refugees. 

During the festival, we have a continuous programme:

Ephemeral Data - Jeroen van Loon on de Neude
Polygon - Lawrence Malstaf in Hoog Catharijne
After Ghostcatching - OpenEndedGroup in de Hekmanfoyer in Stadsschouwburg Utrecht
Through the Looking Glasses - Andrea Božić, Julia Willms & Robert Pravda in de Hekmanfoyer in Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

You can't make the installations today? Come and see! 

We'll like to see you thise week in the theatres, in the public space and in our Festivalhart. We're excited!

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“Relearning what you know by becoming aware of it, like an immigrant in your own home, your own body”


Shira Eviatar started in the theatre as a child actor and later completed her BA in theatre and dance. At 25, she entered choreography school in Israel. At the time, she was active in many creative fields, such as making clothes, painting, pottery, video art, and playing the drums. We talk to Shira Eviatar about her upcoming performances at SPRING Eviatar/Said & Rising, showing 18 & 19 May at Theater Kikker.

What was your motivation to work in the performing arts?
I am intrigued by our ability to create and change our reality, manifested through rules and cultures, and to question it and dissect it to go to our pure essence. This essence is taken away from us in our daily lives; society has no space for it. In order to go beyond what we think we know and ask why things are the way they are, beyond our cultural rules, we need to use our bodies and explore time and space. For me, that is what the performing arts are about.

I like to create works that use the body. I have stopped playing the drums, but I use body percussion in my performances, shaping the space through rhythm and creating a visual that has music. You can even listen to what you see.

What do you think about the role of theatre and dance in society?
That is specific to my country. The situation is very complex, so what I’m saying here is highly simplified. Israel was established by migrants from Europe and the USA (Ashkenazi Jews) and the Arab world (Mizrachi Jews). The Ashkenazi culture was dominant in society, possibly because they had more money. Through media and society, their culture was placed before the Arab culture. Israeli society was extremely segregated, and the Arab Jews were treated very badly. For example, Yemeni Jewish children were kidnapped by the government and given to Ashkenazi families. Many Mizrachi women who delivered in hospital had their babies taken away from them. They were told the baby had fallen ill and died. For many people - and many groups in society - the trauma runs deep.

The Ashkenazi’s Zionist project portrays a certain image of Israel and if you speak Arabic or have a slightly darker skin tone, you are an embarrassment to this image. My grandparents came from Algeria and Morocco, and my father had to change his last name to have any chance in society. As a Moroccan, you are a “no-go”. My grandmother was called a liar for saying that her son was going to be a doctor, both because they didn’t wish her well and because nobody considered it possible.

When I became a dancer, I realized how this trickles down into our culture and I was shocked. I was educated in the typical ways of classical ballet, which requires you to fix certain parts in the body. Any other approach to movement was inferior, and there wasn’t even any space for research – those parts should simply never be moved. They are of no value for a professional contemporary dancer.

It would make you no more than a folkloric dancer, because anything from the Mizrachi culture is reduced to oriental stereotypes, like the dark-skinned villain or the stupid person. The Ashkenazi outside view on Yemeni culture, fashion and dances, has deemed it exotic and given it a negative connotation. It is completely excluded from the cultural scene, unless it’s a specific time and place and called “ethnic” or “folkloric” night. As if contemporary ballet is not folkloric! Because of this manipulation, people began to abandon their traditional dances and clothes.

How did the position of Mizrachi cultures within the Israeli cultural scene inspire the shows Eviatar/Said & Rising?
These performances give space to elements that are excluded from the cultural scene. More importantly, calling it “Mizrachi dance” blends and blurs everything and generalizes it. But I want to respect the richness of these cultures. It’s not all-the-same! In Rising, we are looking at the differences within Mizrachi dance. We reclaim the space and create an unbiased view on what it’s actually made of. By taking out the stereotypes and getting to know the essence, we see similarities and differences and we celebrate the cultures. That is what Rising is for.

What was it like to work with Anat Amrani? And with Evyatar Said?
Anat was ashamed: she was so trained not to celebrate her cultural (dance) heritage, practice it or see it as worthy – but she wanted to work on it. I needed to break her in order to bring it out and into the studio. I remember one very beautiful moment. She embodied her shame and I wanted to push her. I was cheering her on, yelling “yes, yes, this is really good!” and suddenly she let go and her memories were released. I remembered dancing with my grandfather and my mother when I was a child. First, she danced the image of the dance, then the memories, and then the cultural imprint in her body.

Overall, it’s funny: while making this performance I had the same experience that I want the audience to have. Anat comes from a Yemeni culture and I come from Moroccan culture. While working together in the studio, I saw Anat’s work. I said ‘Wow!! This is also Mizrachi dance – it’s so different!”.

With Evyatar, the process was very different. Evyatar doesn’t have a dance background. He researched his Yemeni traditions and trained through the culture, like parties and celebrations, not as a professional dancer. He didn’t know what a plié was, and we didn’t have the same language when talking about the dance. So we had to find another way to capture our movements. Since Evyatar studied Linguistics in university and spoken language is similar to movement, we started to agree on words, sentences and letters, creating a dictionary with three bases in Yemeni dance, and created different lines from there. They were the tools to relearn what we knew by observing and becoming aware of it, like an immigrant in your own home, your own body.

The code we developed came from our bodies. It’s how we practice our cultures. To be an immigrant in your own home means to alienate from everything familiar and to look at it in a new light. Our knowledge is not our own, we share it with each other all the time. We are our own mothers and have the ability to embody others. This duality is my inspiration.

Do you have any advice to share with starting artists or choreographers?
Listen to yourself. Question and doubt what other people tell you are the right ways, and develop a clear view on what people are giving you as tools. Be critical of it, it’s full of politics and information that should be questioned. And enjoy!

What are you working on right now?
It’s a really complex piece of work, it’s big. I am questioning: “what is the material, what is the creation?”. Half of the work is the actual material, and the other half is the pieces that I dispose of during the creative process.  But I am also creating a paradox of time: “What body are we born into and whose body is it?”, with souls hosting different bodies, using people from different backgrounds. I hope to start showing this show in August.

You can catch Eviatar/Said & Rising on Sat 18 and Sun 19 May in Theater Kikker.

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"City Hall is like a loop in a dream, you keep coming back but something has changed."


Performance maker Andrea Božić and visual artist Julia Willms are members of the interdisciplinary platform TILT. They came to  SPRING before with their installation The Cube (2016) and early in 2019 they presented a performance around the lunar eclipse (Orange Nights). This year Andrea and Julia will be at SPRING with their show PoroCity inside the Utrecht City Hall.

How do you feel about the (social) relevance of performing arts?
: Live performance can create space in which we can engage with the world in a different way: we can practice ways of attending, engaging and being in the world that are uncommon. That makes it into quite a powerful space and perhaps one of the last remaining places where something like that can be exercised.
Julia: Performance can propose radical gestures and setups, that are playful and creative with the spaces we inhabit. Ways of attending that would otherwise not be possible outside of the performance world.
Andrea: Performance can ‘undo’ a gaze that already knows what the world is. It can undo the idea that this world is given as such and the only possible reality. With the current political, social, economic and ecological meltdown – performance can be a space where we don’t know yet where we are, so something new can emerge. Maybe that's for us the social relevance of it.

How did you start your platform TILT?
Andrea:  Julia comes from visual arts, Robert is a sound artist and I come from performing arts, but each of us has worked in-disciplinary within our own field and within our education. We initially started collaborated on my performances and continued collaborating on different projects for 15 years. We set TILT up as an in-disciplinary platform – not as a collective but a group of three individual artist who work together in various constellations - as an artistic statement, to practice horizontal connections between these disparate worlds and also to look for new ways of producing our work in collaboration with other partners.
Julia: A platform gives us the possibility to organise ourselves according to what the transdisciplinary nature of the work needs and to ask questions about how authorship is distributed within it. We are not a collective: we do not always use the same common signature. We are able to decide with every project how authorship is divided or shared. It gives us a horizontal organization and a flexible and free but ongoing and connected structure.
Andrea: A lot of our work is about developing new performative or installative formats that would allow for a shift of attention towards the world and the space we are in. Interdisciplinary structures started arising from those concerns and from the need to organise the relationship between the audience and the work, and between us, the work and the world differently.

How do you connect these different formats to the story you want to tell?
Rather than tell stories – I would say we try to create conditions in which something unexpected can emerge. We look for a performative language that needs to be developed to create such conditions for each specific project.
Julia: We often layer several spaces, each with a distinct logic, on top of each other. Together they then create a third porous space between the two. The audience is invited to inhabit this new space for a while and after a while, it becomes ‘real’, ‘natural’ and ‘normal’, even more so or just as much as the one we arrived from.
Andrea: With the dream project we were originally not so interested in the dreams themselves.  But rather in what are the edges of a performance, where do we feel the stage ends and ’the world’ begins, what are the levels of staging in the world, what if there is no border between the art and the world? We were interested in this situation where one comes to a theatre, sits down to watch a performance and then goes back out through the door, leaves the ‘art’ behind and goes to the ‘real’ world outside. We were really interested in how we can create space in which this fictional border will be removed and this knowing where the stage begins and the world ends will be confused. So, we layered two spaces on top of each other: the dream world and the everyday world in which we perform. We map one into the other, they merge. Through the performance, you attend to both of these worlds at the same time. This re-organizes something in how we attend. The dream logic of the performance starts seeping into the everyday logic. And then, as you continue after the performance, we hope this logic stays with you for a few days or at least for a few hours inside the ‘real’ world. So, with the dreaming, we were not so interested in the way dreams are presented to us through psychoanalysis, but much more in what kind of a logic operates within the dream world and to enter it and move through the world in that logic.

What was the starting point of this performance?
Andrea: Our interests kind of continue over a longer period of time, there is no strict starting point. We were interested in creating porous spaces, what happens when you apply organic logic to black boxes and white cubes. In our installation The Cube, we were interested in the rectangular boxes we live in and present art in and we worked with dream logic to re-organise the cube through a visual experience of space. Then we started playing with this performative set up where you walk down a street or are at home in your own apartment but you imagine a different world into the one you see. You call it something else, or you describe it as something else. As if there is another world present but it’s not completely visible and not so different from yours.
Julia: It’s also like looking at something, such as a tree in the street, beyond what is obviously visible to the naked eye. So, there is the upper part of the tree, which looks like a separate object but how far does the tree continue underground into the invisible? How deep are the roots, how are the roots entangled with other roots, how does that create a deep and large strangely entangled underground organism – which very much defines what we see ‘upstairs’?
Andrea: For this performance, we did research into dreaming, for which, as part of it, we invited Mala Kline to work with us. Mala is a Sapphire dream technique practitioner, a dream technique which has its roots in ancient Sephardic Kabbalah tradition. We worked with our night time dreams, but according to this teaching, we dream all the time - we produce images all the time, only we don't pay attention to them. Working in these sessions, we noticed that dreams have a very cinematic and immersive quality when they are told not as a story but as an image that one sees in that moment. We started mapping them into the space and realised there was something interesting in this gap because the dreams have a certain logic in themselves, which one cannot simply invent. It comes from another place. So, we developed something we call “dream collecting and mapping sessions”. We first ask people to tell us a dream – they usually first tell it as a very short anecdote: “Then this happened and this happened.” We then ask a lot of questions: “Can you describe the space you're in? How does something feel? Who are you with?”
Julia: The more questions we ask, the more details emerge. As a listener, you start imagining the dream nearly as yours. Then in the third phase we ask them to re-tell the dream again but to now map it into the space of the building as though it takes place here and now.
Andrea: For the performance we wove the various dreams into one another and into the architectural space. We started doing research into various buildings in Amsterdam, looking at buildings as organisms themselves.
Julia: Buildings are projections of specific mind sets and have emerged from a zeitgeist of the time they were imagined and built in. A building which was built in the 50s comes from a very different political and ideological mindset than a building built today. But also, the use of the buildings changes over time, parts are destroyed, re-built, transformed, edited, merged into a current state.
Andrea: We chose the Orphanage House, designed by Aldo van Eyck, as our first location. It’s a very interesting architectural concept: a series of modular spaces, the inside and outside spaces are equally important, none of the spaces are the same, there are no closed cubes. It is kind of a labyrinth. We created a parcour through the building – through its history and through its current usage - the office spaces of the BPD, their art collection. The two layers - the dreams and the building – reveal and speak to each other.

Why have you chosen City Hall Utrecht as building?
: This space is quite new - only five years old - and feels like a future projection of the now. There is the concept of transparency between the levels and the outside, of commoning, of shared and flexible spaces, to accompany the ideas of new ways of working and transiting. It is situated in an intersection of transport and a shopping centre, a no space, everybody is a passer by, everybody is going somewhere, no one is here. Everything is constantly in movement. It is a perfect place for PoroCity.
Julia: The building is very spectacular, but at the same time it has calmness to it. People are moving around and talking but it’s very quiet in the space. When you travel up on the escalator you pass through a series of different viewpoints and perspectives, but you're at the same time always looking back at where you came from. Everything looks the same but is changing all the time - your perspective within the building is constantly shifting. It feels like a strange vast landscape – you never know if you were there already or not.
Andrea: It is like a loop in a dream, you keep coming back but something has changed. We perform outside of its office hours so the building will be completely empty. That is always a very special experience. The space is left behind by people who work there but the traces of their activities are present.

How is the installation Through the Looking Glasses connected to the performance?
: They are two individual works but together they create a constellation and a larger work. Through the Looking Glasses is a project which we originally developed as part of the Mars Landing, a project we made in 2010. We then reworked it into an installation for this project. You put on a pair of non-see through white glasses on which we project coloured light and headphones with noise sound. You don’t hear any recognizable sound or see any recognizable shapes. You no longer look at something but you feel like you are in the space of the colour.
Julia: The installation is based on the Ganzfeld effect - the result of the brain amplifying neural noise in order to look for the missing visual signals. It is similar to dream production because of the brain's state of sensory deprivation during sleep – you don’t actually see anything but an image is produced. Ganzfeld is also used to train astronauts for their travels to outer space. The installation and the PoroCity journey speak to each other. For the performance, it is important that both are experienced.

You can catch PoroCity on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 May at Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, in the Douwe Egbertszaal.

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The permanent destruction now is a kind of payback to the world, instead of an act of self-revenge.


Theatre maker Naomi Velissariou and sound producer Joost Maaskant are back with PERMANENT DESTRUCTION. Last year they came to SPRING with their show PERMANENT DESTRUCTION - The SK Concert, a melodramatic energy concert about self-hate and unrequited love. The makers explored the confrontation with the work of British playwright Sarah Kane. This year their latest work, PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert, based and inspired on the work of German playwright Heiner Müller and co-produced by Theater Utrecht, is set to premiere at SPRING. We asked Naomi what it is all about.

Last year you played The SK Concert. What was it like?
It was super fun! The treatre concert is a new form of expressing myself. Ultimately it became a highly consistent cross-over between a play and a concert. So aside from what I am doing with the work of Kane or Heiner Müller, I have created an alter ego: an international popstar in great pain. It was a great character to develop. 

How did audiences respond last year?
I’m not sure, since I was on the stage. It depended greatly on where we performed and the audience itself. People who failed to recognise the pop idiom, couldn’t see the irony, references and nods.. Some people didin’t know who Kane or Müller are, so they are simply dancing to the music and having a fun time like at a regular concert. To me, all experiences have equal value. Our audiences and their responses have never been so mixed before.

How did you arrive at this new instalment of PERMANENT DESTRUCTION?
I integrated Müller’s work based on a number of themes that, to me, form the core of his work. The same way I did with Kane last year. This year’s concert is about sexism and the urge of destruction. The #metoo-situation stirred something inside me, and I felt a surge of unreasonable rage. It could have led to some form of extremist feminism. The official term is: resentment. That’s the feeling you can get when you’ve lived with suppression for a long time and you’re entitled to an aggressive response. So taking Müller’s work, I created an extremist, feminist concert. Last year’s show dealt with pain, death and a broken heart. The rage was directed inwards, and this year, it is very much directed outwards. The permanent destruction now is a kind of payback to the world, instead of an act of self-revenge.

Can you tell us about your collaboration with Joost?
We work together on a show for a year. We prepare for ten months and then we play for two. During those ten months we write and record the record together, which is very much a fifty/fifty collaboration.. We always start improvising simultaneously, at a table with two laptops, and write the record. Six months before the premiere, that’s finished, so we know the material that we will be using to create the show. Once the record is done, we start working with a visual artist to create a film. This year we are working with photographer Jan Hoek. The film is completely based on the record and then the concert we create, is based on the two. The music is the artwork around which we create this Gesamtkunstwerk called a theatre show.

Why choose a theatre venue with a concert set-up rather than a concert venue?
In terms of genre it certainly counts as theatre, so a theatre venue is only logical. However we also play in a theatre venue in Antwerp and on Lowlands, last year. It’s just that the creative process of this concert is different from creating a show. I play at the Paardenkathedraal, because it’s a beautiful venue and it is the home base of my biggest co-producer, Theater Utrecht. But I could do this show anywhere; even on a stage in a square somewhere in Utrecht.

What are your plans for the near future?
The HM Concert is the second part of a PERMANENT DESTRUCTION trilogy. Part three will premiere in late 2020 and after that I’d like to see what else is possible. I feel like I have been searching for this hybrid form between theatre and music for seven years, and for now, I have found it. I’m not ready to let go of it, yet, but perhaps after three instalments it will be done. Still, I’d like to see what else we can do with PERMANENT DESTRUCTION.

PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert (coproduction with Theater Utrecht) premiers next week in Theater De Paardenkathedraal. See the performance on Wed 15, Fri 17, Sat 18, Thu 21, Tue 23 and Fri 24 May!

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"We wanted to know what perspectives there might be in a place that is so devastated"


The focus for theatre makers Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere in their work is on creating documentary theatre. Silke attended the drama school at KASK School of Arts in Ghent, while Hannes was a Theatre Studies graduate. For their first show Mining Stories (2016), they conducted extensive research into a mining disaster in the Brazilian region where Silke grew up. This year they are coming to SPRING with their latest show Pleasant Island.

Can you tell us how you came to work in the performing arts?  

Hannes: We first worked together on Silke’s graduation piece. It contained the seeds of the vocabulary we went on to develop in later projects. The search for a performative way to process documentary material.
Silke: We have been instilled with a fascination for the performing arts from a very early age. We were unwittingly triggered in school, I think, so it was never a conscious decision to step into this world. We create documentary performances and our research is akin to journalism, it’s quite dry. So being able to tell our stories through theatre is good.
Hannes: The research-fase is something that brought us together and that we have gone on to explore in different successive projects. During a research phase we collect material and then, we try to translate this into a theatrical form. We create staged pieces for the theatre. What’s good about a theatre venue is that you’ve got people in the room with you for sixty minutes. It works really well, because it means information is processed very differently. It’s a completely different approach than a film or a radio segment.
Silke: In a theatre venue, the here and now is very important.
Hannes: The theatre has its own laws and characteristics, and these are elements that you can work with.

How did you arrive at the Pleasant Island case?
: It is a continuation of Mining Stories, a show we made about one of the biggest mining disasters in human history and about the Brazilian region where I spent my childhood. We were intensively involved in this case and we saw how mining actually means you are always destroying a part of the earth. So we went in search of place that is in fact already completely destroyed, a place where the future is already visible. And that’s how we arrived at Nauru, or Pleasant Island, an island measuring four by five kilometres that is a complete waste land. We wanted to know what perspectives there might be in a place that is so devastated.  
Hannes: In Mining Stories one of the main subjects was our collective memory: how do we deal with our memories and remembrance of the past? By contrast, in the research for this show we look towards the future: what happens if we think more deeply about the future? What perspectives do we have left?
Silke: This is something that is on everybody’s mind. It’s also about post-apocalyptic images of the world and in that sense, Nauru is a micro-world. Recently there was another mining disaster in Brazil, so clearly, things are not going to end well if we continue like this. The show is not strictly about the future as you can see; it’s more about the consequences of our lifestyle today. It’s very much about the present.

How did you set about researching during your trip?
: It started very much from our position. Our last show was about a place I had a personal link to. This place is not ours, and our position is very important to us in working with a true story. So we studied what people in general think about the future, and how mining works. The island was discovered by Europeans, so we also did in-depth research into imperialism and the consequences of European world domination. We never thought we would get into Nauru, because there are detention centres there and because there’s a media ban in place. Hardly anyone is ever allowed to enter. It wasn’t until we were told our application had been processed that we took our research to the next level.
Hannes: We try to incorporate as many perspectives as we can, so we talk to a great number of people. We record these conversations. From Nauru we took away not only audio recordings, but some video images as well. Then the artistic phase can start, during which we try to find the appropriate form to capture all of our material. Every research takes its own form.

How do you arrive at this form?
: Because as we said, it’s not easy to interview people over there or film them, we chose to simply show certain aspects of the island. We did that in a very rough way. It’s all done using smartphones because it’s so tricky to walk around wielding Dictaphones or cameras over there.  
Hannes: They approach we took in researching the project is echoed implicitly in the form. Silke plays the material. It’s important to us to uncover the process of editing, and with it, the artist’s subjective position. For example, in Mining Stories you could see Silke edit the material live.

What made you choose the title, Pleasant Island?
Silke: The Europeans who discovered it called it Pleasant Island and the people who live there sometimes still call it that. Sometimes they’ll refer to this Pleasant Island because it used to be such a beautiful place, which is very painful. When you’re on the island, the overwhelming sense is one of loss. And to us the name also refers to the world where we play, and which is so pleasant.
Hannes: The title straddles the line between a sense of nostalgia for the way things were, and a view of the future, the things you hope will be some day. The people there often talk about being able to recreate Pleasant Island. For me that’s a sense of utopia, and what would be the consequences if we want to achieve this utopia.

You can catch Pleasant Island on 20 and 21 May in Theater Kikker.

© Joeri Thiry

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Performing Robots Conference


On May 23-25 Transmission in Motion organizes the Performing Robots Conference at Het Huis Utrecht (Boorstraat 107).This conference takes stock of interactions between theatre and robotics so far and looks at possibilities for future collaboration. What do the performing arts have to offer as inspiration, model, and testbeds for robots and for HRI? With presentations by SPRING Festival Fellow Peter Eckersall, Kris Verdonck and Stefan Kaegi, amongst others.

Want to know more about the conference? Check out the event. Entry is free, but you do have to register. Register here!

© Gabriela Neeb

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Super Human: Performing Humanity


By Karlien Vanhoonacker

New media are prompting people to create digital versions of themselves; usually better, Photoshopped ones. Online we show only our more succesful, happier selves. Super versions, with fewer human traits. At first sight it seems that digital identities and digital media are creating a greater distance between people.

And in our day-to-day lives, everyone is disappearing into their own digital bubble. Sitting across from each other on the tram, we are digitally connected with each other’s online versions through our smartphones. We observe the world via screens, constructed frames. On the one hand, this means the physical distance between people seems to widen. Face-time conversations are often replacing face-to-face communication.

On the other hand, from a global perspective, new media are bringing people closer together. Faraway places are pulled in closer. Remote villages are becoming less isolated. Connections across continents can be easily maintained because we can stay digitally connected. Thanks to such developments, local, nearly lost cultural traditions and folk-dance are gaining greater visibility; the coverage these fail to get from regular media can be generated through social media. Subcultures find a following and widen their fanbase more easily thanks to digital. Content is now controlled by all, and no longer by a ruling political and cultural class.

While all this is going on, the digital age has also sparked a renewed interest in both the tangible physical body (and its endless possibilities for movement) and in dance as a connecting agent in communities. The French Boris Charmatz opts for both, the physical as well as the collective, with a group choreography in which not a single movement is repeated. Like an infinite databank, a live- archive of unique human movements, 10000 gestures unfolds; a moment when individual movements flow into a collective, endless, yet never repeating movement. It results in a collection of movements that are shared simultaneously and as a group. And yet it is different for each individual because none of the movements ever returns.

In the past, local dance traditions and festivities helped strengthen social cohesion. Folk dance used to be part of social life in small towns and communities. But today, forms like these have largely been lost or are presented only – in often watered-down versions – in specific contexts such as tourism. Now that only small groups of people are still familiar with these traditions, the need is increasing to revive them or incorporate them into new forms. In new media, such alternative forms and dance traditions are increasingly generating attention. Moreover, the renewed interest is allowing the influence of such traditional forms of dance to trickle back into contemporary dance. It is slowly beginning to question the current definition of contemporary dance and reflecting on the gap that has for a long time appeared to exist between it and folkdance. The dominance of a Western/American-oriented definition of contemporary dance is challenged by and contaminated with forms of dance that have a long history.

The Greek choreographer Tzeni Argyriou, for instance, departs from traditional dances in ANΩNYMO, but she transcends its formal movement, structures and rhythms to focus on a collective encounter and shared experience. ‘If technology is controlling and determining our lives and human relationships, isn’t it time we returned to the source? The source of dance and movement?’ It is no coincidence that Argyriou has been working on the cutting edge of the performing arts and media art for 10 years. “In my creative processes so far, I have been preoccupied with questioning a society that is defined by media. In the work, the performers and their physical presence have functioned as tools and as figures that have inhabited and explored this digital reality. After the technological saturation I felt the need to return to the ‘analogue body’.” Dance connects us through a physical experience that is far removed from digital culture (which rather seems to be deepening the divide between us). ANΩNYMO was born from an artistic need to redefine the ways in which people feel connected, beyond any digital channel. It is an attempt to rediscover the connecting powers of physical contact: dance as a catalyst within communities.

The Singaporean artist Daniel Kok and the Australian Luke George are also seeking out the connective powers of physical contact within the collective experience of a show. They are literally tying both themselves and their audiences up (although never without permission or consent!). What they are asking for is not just the audience’s attention, but also the viewer’s mental and physical surrender. Every time they ask for viewers to participate, they push their audience a little further. Who will surrender? Who dares to position themselves as a dominant/submissive within a collective setting? Who takes their extended hand, asking to help facilitate the show? How far do you trust another person? And what type of complex group dynamic is triggered when one audience member is asked to hold another by the collar? Using simple sets of questions, fluorescent ropes and an intimate setting in which the audience encircles the performers and participating audience members, Daniel Kok & Luke George suggest a number of ways to become connected. And they question the hierarchy between makers/performers and viewers. Because, if there are no viewers ‘performing’ or participating in BUNNY, there literally IS no show.

Vincent Riebeek is questioning the patriarchal hierarchy and the white, heterosexual male norm in the representation of bodies, to determine identity and authenticity. With One of a kind he is creating a quartet, a musical, a rollercoaster of genres and images in which gender becomes fluid. Like in his earlier work with Florentina Holzinger, he combines grotesque pornographic imagery with a childlike naivety.

In the second instalment of her concert-trilogy Naomi Velissariou is also seeking out the grotesque. In her first concert she departed from texts by Sarah Kane, and this time she is taking Heiner Müller’s work as her starting material. In PERMANENT DESTRUCTION: The HM Concert Naomi also seems to want to take possession of the digital images surrounding her, challenging taboos within the dominant visual culture. She does this by focusing on themes that are avoided within this culture because they are not sexy or Instagram-worthy, like a broken heart, sexism, misogyny and destructive urges. The setting of a concert, which she is once again exploring with DJ/VJ Joost Maaskant by her side, is a perfect vehicle for this theatrical and grotesque exaggeration of the dark sides to our visual culture.

These artists’ responses to digitalisation differ widely. Tzeni Argyriou and Boris Charmatz pair the digital revolution with a traditional sense of the collective, translating contemporary digital developments into a revived attention to the physical body on the stage. Luke George & Daniel Kok are limiting themselves to a purely physical negotiation between the people in the theatre, zooming in onstage on the power relations in society. Riebeek and Velissariou are both very comfortable with the digital world they are reflecting on. They are very critical of digital representations of the body, and of which bodies are visible. And yet they are keen and comfortable users of these very media. They even ask which is dominant: physical presence, or digital representation. Do our physical bodies still matter? Or are their images dominant? Is the digital version of ourselves enough?


© Bernie Ng

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