Esther Severi, dramaturge of the Flemish theatre company Kaaitheater in central Brussels, has published an open letter in which she takes aim at a future fusion between Kaaittheater and Rosas, the dance company created by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
Severi was reacting to an interview with De Keersmaeker in De Standaard where the choreographer speaks of a future collaboration between the two companies.
De Keersmaeker and Rosas enjoy worldwide acclaim, including numerous awards and the accolade of having Beyoncé “borrow” parts of Rosas choreography in her videos. But Severi expresses concern that a fusion with Rosas would fundamentally change what she calls the DNA of Kaaitheater – so called because it is situated close to the quays on the Brussels canal.
“The Kaai has always been a place whose identity has been re-formed by the range of artists who from time to time move temporarily into the house,” she writes. “The fact that one artist might take over the house or occupy its most important room, both physically and in principle, might well be admitted in city theatres, but goes against the logic of an arts centre.”
She describes the “unforeseen direction” of events as “a slap in the face” for Kaaitheater which has send shock waves through the staff. The fear is that if the house is taken over by Rosas, there will be little or no room left over for other smaller artistic ventures which otherwise might find a home there.
Both the directors of Kaaitheater and of Rosas reacted to the open letter, describing the author’s conclusions as “premature”. Discussions are taking place, they say, but these are entirely exploratory in nature. In particular the board of Kaaitheater stresses that they are currently involved in a search for a new artistic and general director, and any decision on a major subject like fusion would be inappropriate.
“We in the board have since the beginning of the process decided to leave all possible future options for the house open,” the board replies.
Rosas, meanwhile, invited Severi for talks. “On reading her letter, it seems that first and foremost a conversation with Esther Severi is needed,” Rosas writes. “We therefore invite her, and ask her to bring with her anyone she considers it useful to hear our concerns first hand.”