Les Ballets C de la B: Ashes

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The so called mid-life crisis comes in many forms, but Koen Augustijnen has found a more creative outlet than most. The choreographer knows he’s still got plenty of good years ahead of him, but can’t help noticing the passing of time. ‘It probably has something to do with my age,’ he says. ‘I’m 41 now and I’ve been dancing for 20 years. And, although in contemporary dance and dance theatre you can be on stage until you’re 70 or 80, I’m used to dancing in a more dynamic way and I can see that will change at some point.’

Rather than worry about it, however, Augustijnen ploughed his feelings into the latest work by Belgian dance company, Les Ballets C de la B. Inspired by the desire to hold on and need to let go, Ashes is a major new production for eight dancers, five musicians and two singers. ‘I could see my parents getting older and friends’ children growing up,’ he says, ‘and I wanted to say something about the fact that most things don’t last forever, about saying goodbye and how you continue afterwards.’

In a stroke of poignant irony, Augustijnen’s father died several months after the show was devised. ‘I think sometimes you have an awareness of things which you don’t understand rationally,’ says Augustijnen, ‘and maybe I could feel that something was going to happen.’ The link between ashes and death is obvious, but Augustijnen’s choice of title goes deeper than that.

‘I saw a picture of a village completely covered in ashes after a volcano eruption,’ he says. ‘It was a big monochrome landscape but the people were very colourful and I was interested in that contrast. Ashes are also a symbol, because fire is destructive but it makes the ground fertile and something new grows in its place.’

Set to a soundtrack of Baroque music, Ashes may come from a personal place, but Augustijnen hopes it will touch something inside us all. ‘That’s the goal. And although the piece is dark at the start, little by little something new comes and there is hope.’

Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 8 & Sat 9 May

Les Ballets de ci de là

  • 2006
  • Belgium/France
  • 110 min
  • E
  • Directed by: Alain Platel

Documentary about Les Ballets C de la B, one of the most recognised contemporary dance and theatre companies in the world.

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