Winterkaravaan – De Groene Collectie – Movement Exposed

Movement Exposed, 22-06-2021, Bregtje Schudel -
Winterkaravaan - de groene collectie

Winterkaravaan has been split into two programmes containing three performances each, a green and a blue collection. The Blue Collection can be seen from 29 June – 4 July. I attended The Green Collection (De Groene Collectie) on 18 June, at a former printing facility for Noordhollands Dagblad in Alkmaar, now known as ‘De Drukkerij’.

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Corona has created a topsy turvy world. Perhaps never more so than with the fifth edition of talent development project Winterkaravaan, which was supposed to take place last December, but was postponed to June. The organization decided to keep the title as is, to better differentiate it from the regular Karavaan Festival which will take place in August. Now, instead of a warming cup of mulled wine, the audience is treated to a refreshing glass of sangria (with or without alcohol).

The Green Collection started off with the dance performance Twentysomething by Collectief MAMM, led by Maxime Abbenhues and Mees Meeuwsen. Four dancers (Abbenhues, Meeuwsen, Niek Wagenaar and Linde Wagemakers) delve into some of the idiosyncrasies of their own twentysomething generation. They all have big plans for changing the world – Become vegetarians! Protest climate change! – as long as these don’t require too much of an effort or cut into their down time. Older generations, the ones who got them into this mess in the first place, are also implicated. ‘We might want children too,’ they admonish the audience. Only one child, mind you, to minimize the ‘economic footprint’.

While the dichotomy between idealism and hedonism certainly is an interesting topic of conversation (the team thank Emma Westermann, co-author of Het Millennial Manifest, in their credits), and being able to reflect on yourself and the world is an indispensable tool to have as a (dance)maker, I do wish there had been a little more cohesion between the spoken parts (which are in Dutch) and the dancing itself.

Overall the dancing remains rather abstract; bodies moving alone and together through the immense space where the giant printing presses used to be. There are certainly flashes there, for instance when the dancers start passing a chair around. First, they act as if it were a hot potato (insert an impending global catastrophe here) that nobody wants to touch. Later on, the same chair is the most coveted piece of furniture in the room and nobody wants to relinquish it. There is also another short segment where the dancers seem indecisive in their movements, seemingly paralyzed by the immensity of their predicament.

Collectief MAMM’s feverish need to engage with the world offers a nice counterpoint to the closing performance of The Green Collection: Hikikomori by Collectief BLAUWDRUK. Its three makers (Bram Walter, Tijn Panis and Romijn Scholten) have retreated to the safety of their own homes, and the only ‘real’ action takes place in the online world of a mythical role-playing game (this show is in Dutch).

Between the two there was a musical performance, Zócalo by singer and performer Marlies Ruigrok. A piece that fits in best with the current yes-it’s-almost-summer-vibe. The space has been transformed into a zócalo, a local Mexican plaza, where people gather for music, dance and companionship. Ruigrok is our singer/local guide, while Peter Keijsers (on tuba and trombone) and Andreas Suntrop (guitar) function as members of a Mariachi band.

Zócalo is a musical concert – the musical arrangements are by Ruigrok’s brother Boudewijn Ruigrok – with an intimate, theatrical vibe. The repertoire consists of a combination of Dutch chansons (some composed by Ruigrok herself, with coaching by Wietske Loebis) and reinterpretations of existing works, mostly Spanish-spoken, like La Bamba. It’s no great impediment if you don’t know the languages Ruigrok sings in. Even if you don’t understand what she is singing, her spirited performance makes sure you can feel it: songs about love, loss and connection, the need to dance and, especially, to sing. ‘If the singer falls silent, so does life.’ Ruigrok threw a party I was loathe to leave.

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