A film adaptation of the eponymous stage performance by choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker to music by Ligeti and Ysaÿe. The Rosas dancers create a delicate balance between energetic virtuosity and deceleration.
Achterland is the film adaptation of a stage production of the same name from 1990. The film was shot on the set of the stage production in the Rosas rehearsal studio. Achterland is a seminal choreography in Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's oeuvre. In this performance, for the first time, the choreographer gave the musicians a central position on stage and let them play an active role in the overall dynamic – an approach she would repeat in many subsequent projects. The unusual combination of György Ligeti's and Eugène Ysaÿe's music inspired De Keersmaeker and her dancers to create an original dance score with a delicate balance between energetic virtuosity and deceleration.
Onstage are five women, three men and two musicians. Achterland occupies a decisive place in Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's career path. It saw her attempting to involve the musicians in the stage dynamic more fully – an approach that she then went on to develop extensively. Performing these compositions live demands high levels of musical accomplishment, a precision which is reflected in the gestural phrases rigorously composed by the choreographer. In addition, Achterland, in which three male dancers joined a company composed primarily of women, was the first time that the choreographer conceived a partition characterised by a strongly masculine tone. Minimalism and femininity, bywords for a former era, were slowly being transformed. Instead, we were being lead in the direction of a radical no-man's land, of shifting frontiers and blurring of signs.