Separated by an intermission, these two pieces have been crafted in such a way as to be presented together, all while questioning the relevance of dance, the reason for its existence, and whether it generates meaning. Thierry Smits responds to these questions with the conviction of a forty-year old choreographer, whose choreographic output has largely proved its worth, and of someone who has wholeheartedly embraced his trajectory.
His commitment is all the more fervent, for Dionysos’ Last Day represents his return to the stage with determination and joy. Smits had not made any significant appearances since La Grâce du Tombeur (1990); he considered himself a poor dancer; all the more so, perhaps, because of his awareness that his body could not no longer match those very technical qualities, the mastery of movement and virtuosity he demanded of his young and remarkable dancers. At the same time, the distance he gained from physical practice and the recognition he acquired as a choreographer were significant enough for him not to be encumbered by any notions of naïve vanity.
He thus rightly takes on the role of the one through whom the dance happens. On a stage where the performers are hindered to varying degrees––one of them even remains literally glued to the floor for most of the performance––he allows dance to emerge from the morass in which it has been engulfed, that is to say, the very question of whether it still has a right to exist in a demoralising cultural environment where there is much talk of contradance.
Thierry Smits’ retort through his seven dancers is therefore an absolute ode to the cathartic need to dance and to see dancing. It is brought to its apogee in Stigma where the dance, finally freed from all constraints and the vanity of rhetorical questioning about the validity of its jubilant outpouring, expresses itself fully in the urgency of its revaluation and in the dynamic power of its masterful execution. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Art of the Fugue was used as a musical support after the piece had been prepared.