Face to Face
Christoph Girardet & Matthias Müller, Bjørn Melhus, Stefan Panhans, Meg Stuart
06.02.2016 — 12.03.2016
Meg Stuart
Born in New Orleans, Meg Stuart is an American choreographer and dancer who lives and works in Berlin and Brussels. The daughter of theatre directors, she began dancing and acting at an early age in California and regularly performed in her parents’ productions and those made by family friends. She made her first dance studies as a teenager focussing on simple movement actions. Stuart decided to move to New York in 1983 and studied dance at New York University. She continued her training at Movement Research where she explored numerous release techniques and was actively involved in the downtown New York dance scene.

Invited to perform at the Klapstuk festival in Leuven (1991), she created her first evening-length piece, Disfigure Study. In this choreography, Stuart approached the body as a vulnerable physical entity that can be deconstructed, distorted or displaced but still resonates and has meaning. Her subsequent piece, No Longer Readymade (1993), toured extensively and launched her artistic career in Europe. Interested in devising her own structure through which to develop artistic projects, Stuart founded Damaged Goods in Brussels in 1994. The following year, Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods was awarded a company subsidy from the Flemish government. Stuart was the first foreign choreographer to receive this grant, and has been supported by the Flemish cultural sector ever since.

Damaged Goods is a flexible, open structure that facilitates the production of highly diverse projects and interdisciplinary collaborations. Meg Stuart and Damaged Goods have worked on over thirty productions, ranging from solos (XXX for Arlene and Colleagues, soft wear) to large-scale choreographies (Visitors Only, It’s not funny) and including site-specific creations (Highway 101), installations and improvisation projects (Auf den Tisch!, Crash Landing).

Stuart strives to develop a new language for every piece in collaboration with artists from different creative disciplines – visual artists, choreographers, directors, musicians and designers, to name but a few. Greatly inspired by the visual arts, Stuart collaborated in her early choreographies with visual artists Gary Hill, Ann Hamilton, Lawrence Malstaf and musicians Vincent Malstaf and Hahn Rowe among others.
As her work evolved, Stuart began to navigate the tension between dance and theatre. The use of theatrical devices, in addition to the dialogue between movement and narrative, are recurrent themes in her choreographies (Alibi, BLESSED). Residencies at the Schauspielhaus Zurich (2000-04) and the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Berlin (2005-10) led to collaborations with the theatre directors Stefan Pucher, Christoph Marthaler and Frank Castorf.

Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods has an on-going collaboration with the Kaaitheater (Brussels) and the HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin). On the invitation of intendant Johan Simons, 2015-2017 Meg Stuart & Damaged Goods will be collaborating with Ruhrtriennale.  

Stuart’s artistic work is analogous to a constantly shifting identity. It continues to span a wide range of scales and constantly redefines itself while searching for new presentation contexts and territories for dance. Stuart has recently collaborated with choreographer Philipp Gehmacher, musician Brendan Dougherty, costume designer Claudia Hill, music dramaturge Alain Franco, set designer Doris Dziersk and visual artist Vladimir Miller.

Stuart’s choreographic work revolves around the idea of an uncertain body, one that is vulnerable and self-reflexive. Through improvisation, Stuart explores physical and emotional states or the memories of them. In the book Are we here yet? (2010), she reflects on her practice in a conversation with Jeroen Peeters and describes the exercises, tasks and narratives that she uses in workshops and as part of the creative process.

Alongside her work as a choreographer, Stuart regularly teaches workshops in composition and improvisation worldwide at organisations such as Forum Dança (Lisbon), Movement Research (New York), ImPulsTanz (Vienna), Ponderosa Movement & Discovery (Stolzenhagen), HZT (Berlin) and Tanzwerkstatt Europa (Munich).

Her work has travelled the international theatre circuit and also been presented at Documenta X in Kassel (1997), at Manifesta7 in Bolzano (2008) and at PERFORMA09 in New York. In 2008, Meg Stuart received a Bessie Award (New York) for her oeuvre and a Flemish Culture Award in the category of the performing arts. The Akademie der Künste (Berlin) awarded Meg Stuart the Konrad-Wolf-Preis in 2012. Tanz Magazine honored her as Choreographer of the Year 2014. More recently Meg Stuart was honored with the Grand Prix de la Danse de Montréal 2014.

In 2015-2016, Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods is touring Built to Last (2012), An evening of solo works (2013) Sketches/Notebook (2013), Hunter (2014) and UNTIL OUR HEARTS STOP (2015). Built to Last is Stuart’s first work inspired by existing music from different centuries and style periods. An evening of solo works presents a selection of former solos as well as excerpts from evening-length performances. In Sketches/Notebook, Stuart reveals a series of collective vignettes in which artists, objects and materials converge on stage. In her first evening-length solo creation Hunter, Stuart explores the history of her choreographic work and her own body as a living archive. For UNTIL OUR HEARTS STOP, she drew inspiration from people who retreat from the real world and create their own fantastic set of rules.