- Astrid Boons
Astrid Boons started her ballet training as a child in Belgium and has constantly worked on her technique since then. Before becoming active as a choreographer, she danced with companies such as Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Nederlands Danstheater 1, GöteborgOperans Danskompani, and Dansgroep Krisztina de Châtel. “In those years I was influenced by very many choreographers.” A fantastic time: “I endlessly contributed to my body’s vocabulary, an enormous toolkit of knowledge and experience… You don’t use all that when you’re 21, that comes later.”
At the age of 27, Astrid Boons has danced with four companies in a brief period of time and has worked with many choreographers; one day in the studio she comes to an important realization. “I said to my colleagues’: ‘I want to stand and feel, I want to stand and feel what’s already there!”. It’s funny in the moment, but for Astrid, it gets to the core of the matter. She wants to search for something real in what she creates, to search for the authentic, pure movement of the individual, of that particular body and that particular spirit. Her first works come entirely from this idea. “I started to work from within, from a feeling, not from certain steps. I try to find what drives the body, and what drives man to move.” To achieve this, she works intuitively, instinctively. “ In the studio, I work with dancers on the basis of long improvisation exercises. The results are long transformations. Sometimes we find something we want to pursue only after an hour.” She looks for the authentic movement of the person in front of her. “That is often a difficult process because you’re entirely exposed as a person. You’re naked and there’s nothing to hold on to… In that sense, I can be a bit of sadist for myself, I know how difficult it is to go that far, to really get there. You have to want to face yourself that way and know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You just start and at the end you feel differently.”
In the performance, the long transformation from the studio sometimes finally unfolds in one minute. “To keep it ‘real’, I try to remind the dancers how we started the improvisation, as a kind of landmark, by going back to that and following where that leads. To pick up that state of being.”
Why is this approach to movement so important to Astrid? “Because I find that movement shouldn’t be limited to technique alone. It has to come from your gut. Movement can be anything. Even when I stood on toe-shoes at the ballet school, “This doesn’t feel like movement to me”. It was only when I learned the Graham technique, I felt, ‘this is different!’ (gestures to her belly).
“Movement for me is essentially freedom… I experience so much happiness and pure joy when I can find freedom in movement, when I can leave technique behind. That’s what I always tell my dancers when I teach.”
© de Schaapjesfabriek