Dag van de Dans – 23.04.2016

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker / Rosas

Slow Walk

Join the dancers of Rosas and P.A.R.T.S. and experience time in a whole new way. Transform the everyday movement of walking into a mindful and unique experience; walking is dancing too!

On the occasion of the Day of Dance, Rosas is organising an ultra long flashmob; walking from the various gates of the Brussels pentagon to the Grote Markt/Grand-Place at a very slow pace. Upon arrival, you can participate in the workshop My Walking Is My Dancing led by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker herself. Keep an eye on our website for details.

Join the Facebook event here & follow us live on the 23rd of April on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook  - #mywalking

Interactive map

The little dots on the map give the approximate positions of the various groups during the slow walk. Click on the arrow next to the clock to select a specific time. Zoom in to read the street names.

More info

In honour of the Dag van de Dans festivities, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas are issuing an open call to anyone interested in participating in a performance who's stage is the entire city centre of Brussels.

Over the course of five hours, starting at 11:00 from five separate points on the periphery of 1000 Brussels; Porte de Hal, Porte de Namur, Botanique, Yser and Porte de Ninove, five groups will perform a slow walk towards the centre of the city with the aim of converging simultaneously in the Grand Place.

When we say slow walk, we mean a very slow walk; the average pace of each group will be less than 5 meters a minute which means that it will take approximately 5 hours for each group to complete their trajectory.

At 16:00, the five groups will arrive simultaneously on the Grand Place and will be invited to participate in a 30 minute workshop followed by a dance jam led by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker herself with the help of dancers of Rosas and students of P.A.R.T.S.

Open to any and all who want to participate, My Walking Is My Dancing will highlight the hectic and high pace of the city of Brussels by consciously slowing the speed at which we travel from one place to another. It is a meditation and an invitation to slow your body and mind and experience the city and its inhabitants from a new perspective. Doubly so in Brussels today, after the dramatic events drove a wedge between the city and its inhabitants, Rosas wants to pause and reflect on the city and attempt to make it part of us again through the most basic form of movement conceivable: walking.

participants are welcome to join the performance for as long or as short as they wish and at any point along any of the predetermined routes including the final dance on the Grote Markt / Grand-Place.

FAQ

Very slow! Approximately 5 meters per minute. Each group will follow a leader who will set the pace for the walk.

Each route is approximately 1.5 km long.

Each group will take five hours to walk the 1.5km.

You can join any group at any point along any trajectory. The trajectories are described below. Click here to check our interactive map.

Each group will depart simultaneously at 11:00 from the following points:

  • Porte de Hal: The corner of Rue Haute and Boulevard du Midi
  • Porte de Namur: In front of the entrance of the Porte de Namur metro station on Square du Bastion
  • Botanique: In front of the entrance to the Botanique Cultural Centre, 236 Rue Royale
  • Yser: On the corner of Square Sainctelette and Place de l’Yser
  • Porte de Ninove: On the canal side of Boulevard Barthélémy across from the tram stop Porte de Ninove.

Yes, the groups will be passing the following points at the following times. All timings are approximate. Click here to check our interactive map.

  • 11:00 In front of the entrance to the Botanique Cultural Centre, 236 Rue Royale
  • 12:00 Corner Boulevard du Jardin Botanique and Boulevard Pacheco
  • 13:15 The roundabout of Boulevard Pacheco and Boulevard de Berlaimont
  • 14:30 Corner of Boulevard de l’Imperatrice and Rue d’Arenberg
  • 14:55 Entrance of Galeries Royal Saint-Hubert (Rue d’Arenberg)
  • 15:50 Exit of Galeries Royal Saint-Hubert (Rue de la Montagne)
  • 16:00 Grand Place
  • 11:00 Corner of Boulevard Waterloo and Rue Haute
  • 11:50 Corner of Rue Haute and Rue de la Rasiere
  • 13:00 Corner of Rue Haute and Rue du Miroir
  • 13:50 Corner of Rue Haute and Rue Joseph Stevens (Eglise Notre Dame de la Chapelle)
  • 15:00 Corner Rue de l’Hopital and Place de la Justice (bottom of the staircase)
  • 15:45 Corner of Rue de la Violette and Rue des Chapeliers
  • 16:00 Grand Place
  • 11:00 In front of the entrance of the Porte de Namur metro station on Square du Bastion
  • 12:00 Corner of Avenue Marnix and Rue du Trone
  • 12:40 Corner of Rue Ducale and Place des Palais
  • 13:30 Entrance of BOZAR, corner of Place des Palais and Rue Royal
  • 14:00 Exit of BOZAR, Rue Baron Horta
  • 14:50 Mont des Arts (Rue de la Chapelle / Place de l’Albertine)
  • 15:45 Entrance of Galeries Royal Saint-Hubert (Rue de la Montagne)
  • 16:00 Grand Place
  • 11:00 On the canal side of Boulevard Barthélémy across from the tram stop Porte de Ninove
  • 12:05 Corner of R20 and Rue Antoine Dansaert
  • 13:20 Corner of Rue Antoine Dansaert and Place du Nouveau Marche aux Grains
  • 14:00 Corner of Rue Antoine Dansaert and Rue du Vieux Marche aux Grains
  • 15:00 Corner Rue Auguste Orts and Place de la Bourse
  • 15:30 Corner Rue Henri Maus and Rue du Midi
  • 16:00 Grand Place
  • 11:00 Corner of Square Sainctelette and Place de l’Yser
  • 11:30 Corner of Quai du Commerce and Quai du Chantier
  • 12:40 Corner of Quai a la Houille and Rue Locquenghien
  • 13:55 Place Sainte-Caterine
  • 15:05 Corner Boulevard Ansbach and Rue Paul Devaux
  • 16:00 Grand Place

No, you are invited to join for as long or as short as you wish. You may take breaks at any point and re-join when you are ready.

Not at all! This performance is open to anyone that wishes to participate regardless of age or ability. No previous dance experience necessary. Children under the age of 12 should be accompanied by an adult.

We advise weather appropriate clothing and comfortable footwear. We will be proceeding rain or shine so dress accordingly. We also advise to bring water.

Once we arrive at Grand Place, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker will lead anyone who wishes through a 30 minute long practice of My Walking Is My Dancing followed by a dance jam! My Walking Is My Dancing is a simple guided improvisational dance practice she has developed over the years that serves as an invitation to explore space, time and movement from walking all the way up to jumping, running, turning, etc. All ages and abilities are welcome, no previous dance experience necessary.

No, just show up at 11:00 or join us at any point along our journey.

More about slow walking

"Slow walking" has its origins in Buddhism. There is a long tradition of walking as a form of meditation in this religion. Chinese Chan Buddhism, for instance, refers to it as 'kinhin' and is the opposite of 'zazen', the sitting meditation we traditionally associate with Buddhism. But also in other branches of Buddhism like Theravāda Buddhism, walking meditation (video) / (video 2) plays an important role.

Walking meditation is a meditation-while-moving but also a meditation-of-moving. The main focal point is that of the body moving in space and the awareness thereof. The walker centres his attention on the separate movements and this typically involves coordinating stepping and breathing. Contrary to sitting meditation, during which the eyes are usually closed, this practice is much more outward; the physical experience of walking strengthens the connection between the individual and his surroundings.

Read more

Walking is something we usually do automatically, without thinking. At the same time, it is the most elementary and straightforward of human movements. It is from this aspect that walking draws its power when suddenly it experienced consciously and it is presented and taken out of its everyday context. It is no surprise, then, that walking is an often recurring element in various forms of performance art. There are numerous examples of artists who try to manipulate time or draw attention to the process itself (and not to the end result) through this simple act. Others appropriate a space or give that space a new meaning by tracing it with their body. Take, for instance, Francis Alÿs who pulled a little magnetic toy dog through Mexico City until it was covered in metal scraps of street litter (video). Simon Faithfull followed the Greenwich meridian from Peace Haven in Hampshire to Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire without avoiding a single obstacle (rivers, fences, bushes, etc.) (video) / (video 2). Janet Cardiff earned fame and recognition with her 'audio and video walks' guiding the audience along a trajectory in and around New York's Central Park and in the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington (Video) / (Video 2). One of the most famous examples may very well be The Great Wall Walk (1988) by Marina Abramović and Ulay. They walked down the Chinese wall in opposite directions until they met in the middle after ninety days and made their farewells.

In other words, there is no shortage of examples. There are even books dedicated exclusively to walking and the way it manifests itself in art. Dance plays a considerable role here. Postmodern choreographers like Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer explored the boundaries and produced a movement art that exists on the line between dance and pure performance. Just as the nature of performance art allows it to take place outside the walls of a museum, the early work of Brown broke out of the theatre. Pieces like Walking on the Wall (video) and Roof Piece (1971) (video), are characterised by the interaction between the body and a specific environment, an interaction that is not commonplace. Dancers are running (suspended in harnesses) parallel to the floor over walls or pass on a series of movements to each other while they are each standing on a different roof.

Some years earlier, Steve Paxton had already integrated the everyday movement vocabulary in dance performances like Proxy (1961) and Satisfyin' Lover (1967) (video). These choreographies consist mainly of a carefully orchestrated variation of walking, standing still and sitting, continuously applying different tempi. In addition to Brown and Paxton, other participants of the New York Judson Dance Theatre, like Yvonne Rainer, were working with fundamental, everyday movements. By doing so, they wanted to strip the dance of any expressive or dramatic meaning so that the body becomes a neutral object to experiment with in terms of speed, stability, gravity, rhythm and (im)balance. The choreographers Anna Halprin and Simone Forti worked at Halprin's workshop in San Francisco along the same lines. In that period, their pure, non-narrative  approach to dance inspired Bruce Nauman to make performances like Walking in a Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square (1967-1968) (video) and Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk) (1968), filmed at a tilted angle. As the title of the latter example suggests, Nauman also drew inspiration from the work by Samuel Beckett, depicting characters with no hope for the future and caught up in pointless, repetitive acts.

As it happens, Samuel Beckett also got the idea of a 'geometric mime' in the sixties. Ultimately, the idea would grow into the television play Quad (1981), 'a ballet for four people' that he wrote for television. The piece consists of four people dressed in white, red, blue or yellow walking across a square stage in fixed patterns and variations (just as, remarkably enough, was the case with the performances of Nauman). (video) / (Video 2) Although technically, this is not a dance performance, it still clearly pertains to the pioneering movement art in postmodern dance. But also more recently, in 2005, choreographer Jonathan Burrows took to walking again in The Quiet Dance (video), a co-creation with the Italian composer Matteo Fargion.

It's clear that walking has come to play an important role in art, not in the least in (post)modern dance. However, walking is one thing, slow walking is quite another in the way that it is a very specific way to address and draw attention to certain themes. We could say that generally it deals with the same aspects that are the key element in walking meditation. Consciousness focuses on a physical experience in which the walker is (again) introduced to both his body and the environment that body is part of in a fashion that is much intenser than usual. In doing so, he is confronted with a challenge that is in theory quite simple, but in practice is only rarely part of our contemporary sensory world anymore. In his short films Beautiful 2012 (2012) and Journey to the West (2014), the Malaysian director Tsai Ming-liang introduces a Buddhist monk moving extremely slowly through very hectic city centres (e.g. Marseille) (video). The contrast could not be greater which explains why it is so powerful. The filmmaker who regularly works with very long, uninterrupted shots, considers this slowness as an act of rebellion, a manner of protest. Making the passage of time not only visible, but also deliberately slowing it down, ensuring the viewer feels uneasy, tense and eventually even frustrated.

It is also remarkable that when slow walking is carried out in an artistic context, it is also often accompanied by a very deliberate intent to establish a change in the public's perception. The slow walk not only serves as a statement, it isn't walking for walking sake. The spectator is not just a passive observer, his changed perception is part of the performance. This is doubly so when the audience is asked to participate in the process and start a slow walk themselves. In 2015, Marina Abramović set up "Project N° 30" on Pier 2/3 in Sydney for the Kaldor Public Art Projects. For twelve days, the public could engage in a series of exercises that were all set up around the concept of 'duration' that explored physical and mental boundaries and magnified details through a simple assignment or act. In addition to counting grains of rice or staring into the eyes of another person, it also involved the 'slow walk' (video).

Coming back to dance again, we see that slow walk has also made an entrance here. As early as in 1970, Yvonne Rainer integrated a slow walk ('M-walk') in the anti-Vietnam performance War. A more recent example, closer to home, was 100 pas presque during the Festival Kanal in Brussels in 2014. The choreographer Taoufiq Izzediou travelled 100 meters in one hour with his dance company. In doing so, he said he wanted to ask some significant questions about the relationship between the individual and his environment but also, and especially, about the place of modern dance in today's world and in public space.

It certainly isn't the first time either that Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker makes a connection between walking and dance. One of the fundamental principles on which she has been building her choreographies in recent years she refers to as 'My Walking is My Dancing', just like the title of this project. The productions En Atendant (video), Cesena (video), Partita 2 (video) and Vortex Temporum (video) were based on this. In doing so, De Keersmaeker chooses the "simplest of movements; the movement of walking and running and the changes therein. The rhythm of the body appropriating the space." It is a form of improvisation in which the act of walking undergoes a variety of transmutations (e.g. by walking backwards or going twice as fast, etc.) giving rise to a broad range of means of propulsion. One of the most recent creations, Golden Hours (As you like it) (video), for instance, starts with a slow walk. It is carried out by all dancers to Brian Eno's song that shares the name and which is looped endlessly.

And then, on Saturday 23 April, the Day of the Dance, Rosas presents the project 'My Walking is My Dancing'. With the slow walk and the workshop, De Keersmaeker wants to demonstrate that walking is dancing, and that everybody has the ability to dance, anytime, anywhere. It is an opportunity to prove that dance can bring people together in the public space in a unique, spontaneous and accessible manner and may furthermore contribute to changing our perception of that space.

REFERENCES
  • Exhausting Dance: Performance and the Politics of Movement. André Lepecki, 2006
  • The Art of Walking: a Field Guide. David Evans, 2013
  • Walking and Mapping: Artists as Cartographers. Karen O'Rourke, 2013
  • Meditation for Peace: a Comprehensive Guide for Discovering the Joys to Achieve Peace and Calmness. Calista Dion, 2015