Immature Girlish Bodies… Mature Girls’ Minds

Young immature girlish bodies and abstract movement material choreographed for professional dancers; it takes as long as the piece ”GIRLS” lasts, to overcome the confusion in perceiving how both come along together on the stage.

”GIRLS” – a piece, in which eight girls between 10 and 14 years old occupy the scene. Chorepgraphed by Ugo Dehaes, ”GIRLS” has become the counterpart to Dehaes’s piece ”WOMEN”, a dance portrait of eight women who were above the average age of the contemporary dancer. In ”GIRLS”, Dehaes has passed on the same movements to eight girls who are generally considered too young for this type of choreographed work.

Black box with hanging in a grape-shape bunch of lamps. No decor, light effects or music on the stage. The only soundtrack is girls’ own breathing.

Without any hint on Cheer Up Dance Team the eight young independent personalities create harmonious, well-organised, supportive and honest art of togetherness on the stage. Showing up on the stage in the begining, all the eight dancers never leave it untill the very end. Every now and then the physicality of the piece reminds a respiratory gymnastics or the elements from martial art training. The dancers are very busy all the time.

An hour-lasting piece is overloaded with choreographic scores and composition tasks. It is geometrical in movements’ shapes and in relative position of the dancers in the space. It is mathematical in its quality of physical motion, developed from counting and calculation. The young dancers seem to solve the choreographic tasks as diligent as they would need to do their homework in geometry or mathematics in school with a satisfaction of getting an excellent grade.

How do they remeber all that….? I don’t get bored because they are still honest about what they are doing.

All eight wear different well-fit lovely dresses. The dresses do not hide yet unformed girlish bodies: thin legs and ungrouded feet. This creates a gap in my perception between dancing immature girlish bodies and girls’ mature minds – their convincing presence on the stage. They themselves professionally cope with the gap between own physicality and the physicality of the piece. The movement doesn’t look awkward, either clumsy. It just doesn’t correspond to an ideal image for contemporary dancers and opens up a space for the audience to reflect and negotiate own position on that.

Maria Prokhorova

Writer is a dancer who tries out different ways of viewing and reviewing dance.



Side Step Festival, Helsinki

Choreography: Ugo Dehaes

In collaboration with: Natascha Pire

Dance: Silke Dendooven, Aster Henderieckx, Laetitia Janssens, Olivia Kastoun, Rune Leysen, Ella Nilis, Flo Van Genechten, Anouschka van Keulen

Production assistant: Jana Debruyne

Production: fABULEUS (Leuven)

Co-production: TAKT (Neerpelt), C-Mine (Genk)