Elisabeth Borgermans is a Belgian choreographer and dancer. She borrows procedures and themes from literature, philosophy and music to reveal the various forces present in the dancing body. Movements shape time, music provides pulse and suspense, words create meter and matter. The body in Borgermans’ work is not mute, but a vehicle of meaning and poetry. She leads us through an associative field in which the apparent meaning of things, perhaps even that of dance itself, is transformed.
Elisabeth studied linguistics and literature at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. After graduating from college she started at the Fontys Dance Academy in Tilburg and finished her dance education at the Artesis Royal Conservatory of Dance in 2009. Until 2015 she worked as a freelance performer, dance teacher and choreographer.
I got to know Elisabeth’s work through a pedagogical collaboration for Kunsthumaniora Brussels. Elisabeth has an interesting friction in her making between roughness and form, between beauty and destruction, between virtuosity and the banal. Her movement language swallows your gaze, asks you as a viewer to zoom in, and carries an exciting balance between stylism, ability and emptiness. As a freelance business leader in the dance sector, I always want to feel an urgency, a will to struggle with the stage. I also have a preference for makers who dare to approach existing music repertoire differently. In that sense, Elisabeth fits nicely into the list of artists I supervise.
During spring 2016 she created and performed the solo-piece To Paint is to Love Again, an investigation into the artistic and social implications of craftsmanship, inspired by work of American writer Henry Miller and American sociologist Richard Sennet. In spoken word and movement, Elisabeth discovered some of the value but also some of the limits of dance practiced as craft. The creation was supported by and presented in Theatre De NWE Vorst in Tilburg, Theatre The Freezer in Iceland and dramaturgically supported by DansBrabant.
During 2017 Elisabeth resided in Portugal where she was part of a program in choreography and interpretation organised by dance company Companhia Instável in Porto. In this period of research, Elisabeth put her focus on the intertwining possibilities of and contrast between 19th-century poetic language and contemporary popular music. Special love affairs with e.g. Lord Alfred Tennyson and George Michael ensued. With Uruguayan dancer Matias Arismendi, she cocreated the duet No, performed in Teatro do Campo Alegre in July 2017. Later on she cocreated the piece Hermit with Camilla Soave and the solo-performance While We Wait for Instável, both performed at the Casa da Arquitectura in Portugal.
The day before the official studio presentation, Elisabeth Borgermans surprised me during a three-week residency in our studio in Tilburg with the research material for A Dance Allegory. With heart-conquering self-mockery and as effective as poetic, she showed drive and despair of a young woman in a solo. Zigzagging between the extremes of casual precision and reckless abandon, she made me curious about every next move, every next look, every next breath. In a conversation we had earlier, Elisabeth and I spoke about the need to "risk yourself" in a solo and what that might be. It was obvious that she had found that.
Season 2018 and 2019 Elisabeth dedicated to her research-project A Dance Allegory to deepen her affinity with the historical Romantic movement at large through the study and combination of poetry, dance, music, philosophy and historical analysis. Residencies and showings took place in P.A.R.T.S/Rosas (Brussels), Vormingscentrum Destelheide, Companhia Instável (Porto), Teatro Rivoli (Porto) and DansBrabant (Tilburg). In Porto (Portugal) she shared her creative process with a group of 11 professional local dancers during a research-week.
This season she will create and perform the solo Zäsur, coproduced and supported by C-TAKT, DansBrabant, Vlaams Cultuurhuis De Brakke Grond, Cultuurhuis De Warande, GC De Kroon, JOJI INC, Perpodium, the Flemish Government and The Flemish Community Commission. She'll also cocreate Electric Life with Thomas Vantuycom and in musical collaboration with Alain Franco, produced by fABULEUS and coproduced by Concertgebouw Brugge and Brussels Philharmonic.