Bud Blumenthal


Bud Blumenthal wanted to get out of the United States and moved in 1988 to Brussels to dance with Frédéric Flamand’s company Plan K. He has lived in Brussels for twenty years and could witness how the Brussels contemporary dance scene started. When he arrived, there did not exist a commission for dance subventions yet. Plan K was subsidized with theater money at the time. Although he has his own bilingual association now, he spent his whole career more or less in the French-speaking dance community. Blumenthal emphasizes that on the artistic level, everything is mixed. In his projects for example, he works with people from all over the world. The reality of contemporary dance today is that it is very international. Brussels is such an attractive city for dance because of the funding situation: both the Flemish and the French community invest in contemporary dance. The Belgian dance community is very much separated; students from P.A.R.T.S. for example go into the Flemish community as a rule; there is a tendency not to mix with the French side. Blumenthal notices how the French community tends to be more interested in what happens in the Flemish community than the other way round. There is however one unifying factor; everybody is interested in or obsessed by the subject of dance, whether he is working for someone, creating, presenting, teaching or looking for a job...

Blumenthal tells how his artistic needs put his survival needs at risk. He lives in a precarious way that becomes less and less manageable. Most young dancers live that way and are willing to, but for him it becomes less and less acceptable, especially because he has a family now. He feels underrecognized because he has been working and contributing in the Belgian dance scene for twenty years and is still struggling, with chômage as his main source of income. In the actual subvention system, many dancers can hardly live off what they earn for a project; salaries are a minimum. A project begins one year and a half before the rehearsals actually start. There is always more work in the pre-production than in the production but only for the production he pays himself. The system requires that a choreographer lives at least one and a half year ahead, which makes it impossible to fully concentrate on the present. Blumenthal does have a sense of freedom in his profession because he can make a piece about a subject that interests him without being preoccupied with what would sell best or what is en vogue. The best recognition for him is when spectators give feedback on the show. He thinks it is much more interesting to talk to (non-professional) spectators than to professionals because they are more free to talk about their impressions.

Plan K – cosmopolitan – unique position of Brussels – manageable – precarious – cheapest way to live – lobby – underground-stuff – shared values – pre-production – reputation – ultimate justification – formatted – condensed – terrifying – captivate – cyclical shift – underrecognized – deserve – flat screen


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