For about 25 years, Belgian choreographer Thierry Smits has asserted an artistic approach that is well off the beaten path, and frequently controversial.
Alternating pure dance productions with more performative pieces, his work explores our relationship to the body – as an object of desire, pleasure and finiteness – which Smits considers, today more than ever, as a political space, the only free territory left to us.
In Anima Ardens, based on the experience and singularity of each dancer, Smits creates a piece about the intuitiveness of the body and bodies together, reminiscent of the evolution of a hurricane which, starting from nothing, attains wild strength, both violent and fascinating, before dissipating and returning to silence.
In between breathtaking dance sequences, the revealing new documentary Bare reveals the artistic collaboration and conflict between Smits and his company – eleven male dancers performing nude – as they build this new avant-garde piece steeped in dark, primal energy and ritual.
With the creation they address questions of body politics, gender, censorship and taboo aesthetics. A creative exploration of the underrepresentation of the naked male form in performing arts, the film documents the arduous process of auditioning, rehearsing and opening Anima Ardens.