“A production like Common Ground forces us to ignore preconceptions and reject compartmentalization, to remove where possible the boundaries between ‘I and the other’, and to acknowledge that they cannot be.”
“When you see Kobe and Hannah dancing, you see something truly authentic.”
One loves jump music and uninterrupted humour, another ballet and homemade love longs, whilst the third observes the world with his camera and is secretly an accomplished beatboxer.
Choreographer Benjamin Vandewalle is fascinated by encounters and what they do to your view of the world. In Common Ground he meets two professional dancers with a disability. Together they search for common ground. They share a love of dance, and through movement they get to know each other better. Who is the other dancer? Who am I myself? In what ways are we similar and where do the differences lie? And above all: what can we learn from each other?
From the jury report:
The dance production Common Ground by Benjamin Vandewalle and two dancers with Down’s syndrome from Platform-K is genial in intent. The PR text tells us that the dancers “go in search of a shared language”, but in reality Common Ground is a highly artistic and wilful production which to an extent breaks fresh ground. Apart from the pleasing aesthetics and fiery energy interspersed with moving moments of stillness, the strength of this production lies in the effect it has on the spectator.
In contrast to the professional dancers who have perfect mastery of their (perfect) bodies, the dance language of Platform-K dancers Kobe Wyffels and Hannah Bekemans is abrupt, uncontrolled and unfinished. This immediately sets you thinking about beauty – not in a sickly, condescending way – “look, they’re beautiful too!” – but abrasively and confrontationally. Because Wyffels and Bekemans brazenly claim the space, quite simply by being there, on an equal footing with Vandewalle and the audience, thus confronting the spectator with his own reservations. How should I look at them? What should I say to them? What do we have in common?
A production like Common Ground forces us to ignore preconceptions and reject compartmentalization, to remove where possible the boundaries between ‘I and the other’, and to acknowledge that they cannot be. For the marvellous thing about Common Ground is that they can be, there in the auditorium, where we are together, and the same. And that leads to a totally unexpected, heartfelt human emotion. Because of the efforts and dedication of Vandewalle, Wyffels and Bekemans to achieve a shared aesthetic, for a moment we also find common ground, where everyone – performers and audience, professionals and amateurs, people with a disability and without – comes together.