For the creation of Grafted, choreographer Ugo Dehaes sought out three couples, both in life and in dance: professional dancers who had not only worked together for years, but also shared their lives as real couples.
Together they created an extremely physical performance that offers a view of the inner workings of relationships: how we fortify and support each other, how we trust and count on each other, and how we drag each other down and weigh on each other. This highly intimate material simultaneously shows both the beautiful and the suffocating aspects of a relationship.
In the course of the performance the dancers dance exclusively with their own partner. The dance material has the spectacular nature of acrobatics and the courtliness of a pas-de-deux from classical ballet. The dancers are as if grafted onto each other, and do not have a moment to themselves.
By giving each couple very similar material to dance in a very simple setting, with the minimal use of music, Ugo Dehaes shows how differently these couples deal with each other, but also how tender and considerate they are to each other. They embody the renowned opening sentence from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: ‘All happy families are like each other, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’.
Grafted continues in the direction set out by the successful productions Couple-like (2008, performed about 100 times all over Europe) and WOMEN (2011, selected for the 2011 Theatre Festival), in which Ugo was able to move the spectators profoundly using very simple means and highly physical material.
But Ugo Dehaes is also known as a creator of powerful images. In previous work he had succeeded in transforming the body into objects (Lijfstof, ROEST) or using it in compelling interpretations of scientific principles (FORCES). In Grafted he combines the best of these two worlds: the duets are interrupted by a solo in which we see a lone female dancer transformed. We see a woman who initially moves much more freely, but because of her solitude she also evolves into something completely different. For this ‘insert’, Ugo collaborated with two of his very first assistants (Roeland Luyten for music and Arne Lievens for lighting) to create an unexpected scene packed with colour, sound and dazzling dance.