Katja Werner
Dance Europe, December 2003

Every great dancer's dance story involves moments of great glory. Ornella Balestra had hers with Béjart, Geraldo Si with Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal. They were stars. Singular. Beautiful and successful. But "Time waits for no one" (Alberta Hunter). And before you know it, they're history. Now, you might think that life is cruel. You might reject what has become of you. You're lonesome tonight, no one speaks to you of love (Lucienne Boyer). Your memories keep you company. You dance alone. You will love "Tanzgeschichten".

Because, in fact, they are a boundlessly devoted, sentimental, tender, and subjective homage to our shared melancholy. And to everyone's own - lasting - uniqueness. As Balestra reminisces Odette with just the slightest lifting of a shoulder, a nod, a wounded look, she comes full circle. Listening to the inward echo, she turns a page. And, dressed in simple black sweats, walks off the bare black stage. It takes Si a while longer to kiss his past good bye and take off the feather wig and the glistening red gown. A tango on the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (Marianne Faithful), a catwalk among shadows, caresses for precious vinyl. How shy, how sad is happiness; how fleeting an illusion is fame.

Raimund Hoghe knows. And, call it kitsch, but he loves to wallow in it (120 minutes) just as much as we all do sometimes. Especially when we realise that youth is gone. Hoghe is no youngster either. Although it's doubtful his youth was as bright and glamorous as that of the aforementioned fading beauties. The most important lesson to be learned from his "Tanzgeschichten": To be beautiful means nothing at all. But to be treated as a beautiful person makes absolutely happy. Raimund Hoghe, small, hunchbacked, the perfect impersonation of loneliness and unfulfilled longing in many of his pieces, is now exuberant. Radiant. Happy. An effervescence has taken possession of him, like love songs (Domenico Modugno, Gigliola Cinquetti...) and waltzes (Tchaikovsky). Like cascades of coffee beans strewn all over the stage. Merrily pattering. Such a joyful noise. And their fresh perfume fills the auditorium. Happiness can be so contagious! It's a celebration of life, an unsuspected delight, the rare incident of completion.

We owe this to Lorenzo De Brabandere, barely twenty, whom Hoghe discovered for his last piece "Young People, Old Voices". So Hoghe believes in beauty still. Not the screaming, obvious, temporary kind. The private, invisible quality that travels mysteriously between the hearts on paths of kindness. De Brabandere and Hoghe explore this route in their lively, attentive duets. Hoghe flies, lifted by De Brabandere. They sweep across the room with big brooms, and cover each other with arms full of those coffee beans. With their hands they retrace the silhouette of the other without touching. This unlikely couple is one blissful image of hope for affection and respect between people. Thus positively charged, Hoghe lying down next to the abandoned traces of Balestra's slender body (marked again by coffee beans) is, after all, comforting.

©Katja Werner
Dance Europe, December 2003