In 1983, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker had her international breakthrough with Rosas danst Rosas, a performance that has since become a benchmark in the history of postmodern dance. Rosas danst Rosas builds on the minimalism initiated in Fase (1982): abstract movements constitute the basis of a layered choreographic structure in which repetition plays the lead role. The fierceness of these movements is countered by small everyday gestures. Rosas danst Rosas is unequivocally feminine: four female dancers dance themselves, again and again. The exhaustion and perseverance that come with it create an emotional tension that contrasts sharply with the rigorous structure of the choreography. The repetitive, “maximalistic” music by Thierry de Mey and Peter Vermeersch was created concurrently with the choreography.
Thierry De Mey filmed Rosas danst Rosas in the former technical school of architect Henry Van de Velde in Leuven. The film version is much shorter than the show itself. In his film Thierry de Mey opts for a heavily “inter-cut” version in which, apart from the cast of four dancers from 1995 and 1996, he also has all the other performers from the long history of the show dance along. He makes maximum use of the geometrical and spatial qualities of the Van de Veldes building. Incidentally, the building was thoroughly renovated straight after the film was made, making it one of the last testimonials to the original architecture. The film was shown on all of the major European television channels and also had a cinema career in the “art house circuit”.