Anouk Llaurens


Brussels attracted Anouk Llaurens because of its surrealism, sense of humour and less rigid way things were organised compared to France. At that time there was more room for eccentricity and personality than in France. It has changed slowly: in 15 years Brussels became more and more European and international and lost some of its own character.

Llaurens’ expectation when she came to Brussels in 1992 was to find a place comfortable enough to live, work as a dancer and make art. When she worked for the big company of Michèle Anne De Mey she had social recognition; she toured around the world and was what it’s called “successful”. But she felt isolated on stage. The intimate work situations that she has been creating for herself recently are far more satisfying than performing on a big stage far away from the public. The best recognition for her is the sensation of ‘transformation’ in a performance; when the presence of people transforms her performance and her performance transforms the audience. She feels that she has to be careful to keep her audience in mind when she creates work, to pay attention not to be completely absorbed in her own world. She wants to communicate in a simple way so that her work can concern anybody. She has been teaching a lot and feels that she is more recognized as a dance teacher, than as a performer.

Anouk Llaurens feels part of a community of artists that is situated within the bigger dance community and that consists of people she works and exchanges with. What unites their group is that they have similar interests and concerns, that they understand each other’s projects and give feedback on each other’s work. The latter is very important: she highly values intensive, sincere communication and honesty. What she shares with her own little community is a desire to keep on asking: what is dance? What is performance? What is their function today? She makes a distinction between the dance field itself and that part that is visible to the public. She is doing a lot of work ‘inside’ for the moment that is not visible to the public (yet).

In the performing art field she thinks that in order to be visible and accepted, it is important to create work that is ‘fashionable’. For herself, she feels this tension between this desire to be fashionable and what she really stands for. She asks herself whether it is possible to be fashionable, visible and at the same time have some integrity. It is hard to ignore trends and fashions because they have even become criteria for granting subventions. Asked for what is ‘in vogue’ now, she mentions the numerous plays with reality that she has seen lately, the tension between acting and ‘being oneself’ on stage. She often notices a lack of distance: actors are chosen because they respond to a certain archetype and coincide with their role.

Llaurens appreciates the social security system in Belgium but a while ago, she left Brussels for London. One of the reasons is that she needed a challenge: she wanted to be confronted with a situation where there is less social support and she needed to work to make money. In London she taught a lot and participated in projects she liked and other that she did not like in order to make a living. She learned about solidarity between artists and private support for the arts. In Belgium she is in a more comfortable position because she has the artist status and benefits of unemployment money. Now that she is back from London she has to re-introduce herself in the Brussels dance community and make her work visible to the public.

London – artist status – rebuild – re-introduce – improvisation – stable – comfort – challenging – Anglo-Saxon – unemployment – similar concerns – sincere communication – integrity – seduction – desire to be accepted – fashion – conformity – destabilize – stillness – vibration – archetype – reality show – philosophize – surrealism – eccentricity – sense of the other – intimate situation – nature – no social support – comfy – fighting mood – institutionalized – kids – an issue – afford – planet


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