If we had to inscribe ourselves into an army of individuals — to use the concept of Nastio Mosquito — we'd be part of the infantry. That's exactly what our dance company is named after: the infantry, or 'Voetvolk', in Dutch. They don't have horses or fancy material, only their bodies to throw into the frontline. Although we have our doubts about the war-like imagery, we don't think conflicts are essentially a bad thing. When they thrive in a decent and honest manner, they can be the start of something new and beautiful — in art as well as in life. When there's no decency whatsoever, however, conflicts may change into wars and nothing beautiful can be the result of that.
The piece we present at Malta Festival, It's going to get worse and worse and worse, my friend, is about the power of speeches. A speech can be a mighty weapon. Throughout the centuries it has enthused countless masses and galvanized them into action, for better or for worse. It has unleashed revolutions and fueled wars. Just by the power of words. But a speech not only enthuses the hearers, often it also transposes the speaker into a state of trance. Then he loses himself in a stream of words, in an obsessive, ecstatic way of speaking. The power of a speech often depends on the trance of the speaker.
In It's going to get worse and worse and worse, my friend Lisbeth dances the trance of that ecstatic speechifying. In the process, we take advantage of fragments from a speech by the ultraconservative American televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. Initially, the parlance is friendly and pacifying, but from his compulsive desire to persuade transpires growing despair. Eventually, it exposes its deepest nature: violence.
— Lisbeth Gruwez & Maarten Van Cauwenberghe, Voetvolk
Meet Lisbeth Gruwez:
Voetvolk (Dutch for ‘infantry’) is a Belgian contemporary dance and performance company, founded in 2007 by dancer/choreographer Lisbeth Gruwez and musician/composer Maarten Van Cauwenberghe, who got to know each other in the laboratory of Jan Fabre. Their work is an ongoing conversation between corporal and auditive movement: Gruwez and Van Cauwenberghe direct each other in order to achieve an organic symbiosis within a fixed frame. This brings in the element of performance that identifies every production: the connection between the aural and the visual/physical is always (a)live.
Lisbeth Gruwez (1977) is a Belgian dancer and choreographer, half of Voetvolk’s artistic team. She started practising classical ballet at the age of 6 and studied at the ‘Stedelijk Instituut voor Ballet’ (Antwerp), combining high school with a professional dance education. Once graduated, she joined P.A.R.T.S. (Brussels) to study contemporary dance.
In 1999 she started working with Jan Fabre, being part of his guerriers de la beauté. Having performed in As long as the world needs a warrior’s soul (2000) and Je suis sang (2001), she rose to international fame because of Quando l’uomo principale è una donna (2004), the solo Jan Fabre created specifically for (and with) her.
Apart from working with Fabre, she also collaborated with Ultima Vez (The Day of Heaven and Hell), Jan Lauwers|Needcompany (Images of Affection), Grace Ellen Barkey (Few Things), Riina Saastamoinen (Cry Me a River) and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Foi). In 2007 she founded Voetvolk, together with Maarten Van Cauwenberghe. Their work is an ongoing conversation between corporal and auditive movement, in order to achieve a symbiosis between the aural and the visual/physical.
Apart from establishing her own choreographies with Voetvolk, Lisbeth Gruwez has danced in Arco Renz’ i!2, together with Melanie Lane, and she also played the leading role in Lost Persons Area, Caroline Strubbe’s first feature film. Gruwez danced in videoclips for A Brand (“Hammerhead”), Juliette and the Licks (“Death of a Whore”), Dirk Braeckman (promoting A.F. Vandevorst’s winter collection) and MUGWUMP (“At the Front”). She is also one of the “KVS faces”, the open ensemble of artists and thinkers associated with the Royal Flemish Theatre of Brussels.
Maarten Van Cauwenberghe (1976) is a Belgian musician and composer, the other half of Voetvolk’s artistic team. He started playing guitar at the age of 12. After graduating from high school, he studied at the Catholic University of Leuven (to become a commercial engineer) and at the Jazzstudio in Antwerp.
In 2000 he started working with Jan Fabre, creating the music for As long as the world needs a warrior’s soul (2000), Je suis sang (2001) and Quando l’uomo principale è una donna (2004), growing very close with dancer Lisbeth Gruwez. Apart from working with Fabre, he also collaborated with Rosas dancer Julia Sugranyes (Redial 2) and Label Cedana (Sens Acte Sans).
In 2007 he founded Voetvolk, together with Lisbeth Gruwez. Their work is an ongoing conversation between corporal and auditive movement, in order to achieve a symbiosis between the aural and the visual/physical.
Apart from establishing his own compositions with Voetvolk, Maarten Van Cauwenberghe has written music for the Comédie de Valence (La nuit est mère du jour) and for Ay’n, a dance performance by Louise Chardon and Luk Van den Dries. He also composed for Yell for Cadel, a documentary on Cadel Evans, and for Le Part Sauvage, Guérin Van de Vorst’s first feature film. Van Cauwenberghe directed videoclips for A Brand (“Hammerhead”), Millionaire (“Ballad of Pure Thought”) and Vive la Fête. He is also member of the psychedelic electropunk band Dendermonde (and previously of the band Babyjohn), and dj. Being a commercial engineer, Van Cauwenberghe enjoys engaging in the business matters of cultural activities. Apart from being Voetvolk’s business manager, he is associated with Key Performance (as Art Project Manager). In 2016 he won the Prize for Cultural Entrepeneurship, awarded by the Flemish Community.
Meet Lisbeth Gruwez: