“Brilliant complexity, beauty, and perfection.” – The New York Times

 

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites are considered a milestone in the history of Western music. The title, Mitten Wir Im Leben Sind/Bach6Cellosuiten, (In the Midst of Life/Bach’s Cello Suites), comes from the opening words of a Martin Luther chorale: “In the midst of life, we are in death.” The piece premiered at the Ruhrtriennale festival in Germany in August, 2017.

Placing the acclaimed cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras at the center of the piece, contemporary dance luminary Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker builds on her choreographic language, developed in tune with Bach’s musical one, to capture an affinity between the music and five dancers, of which De Keersmaeker herself is one. In a feat of physical endurance, the suites are played in their entirety, making this a rare chance to hear all six together live.

 

 

After screenings in cities like New York, Berlin, Lisbon and Hong Kong, the film Mitten, by Olivia Rochette and Gerard-Jan Claes about the rehearsal process of the performance Mitten wir im Leben sind/Bach6Cellosuiten, is to be released on DVD on 8 November 2019. This release will be distributed by Cinéart.

Mitten follows the final weeks of rehearsal of Mitten wir im Leben sind, a performance by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, her company Rosas and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, based on the six cello suites by Johann Sebastian Bach. The film offers an intimate glance into De Keersmaeker’s meticulous methodology, in which a choreographic universe is built up through a careful study of musical composition. This intense creative process of continuously reshaping and honing, characterised by De Keersmaeker’s inexhaustible longing for precision and detail, is reflected in the filmmakers’ patient look at the work of the choreographer, the musician and dancers.

Mitten, le film

Mitten wir im Leben sind/Bach6Cellosuiten will have its world première on 26 August 2017 in the Maschinenhalle Zweckel in Gladbeck (Germany), as part of the Ruhrtriennale.

During this performance, Johann Sebastian Bach’s cello suites will be performed in full by world-renowned cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. The collaboration between De Keersmaeker and Queyras came forth from a mutual appreciation of each other’s work and a shared interest in musical analysis as a starting point for their interpretations.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites are considered a milestone in the history of Western music. The intellectual and architectural elements continue to evoke contemporary appeal, with their rhythmic vitality and melodic intricacy. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s affinity with Bach was already apparent from such previous performances as Toccata (1993), Zeitung (2008) and Partita 2 (2013).

In this production, Bach’s score is faceted, challenged, and performed through a choreography for three male and two female dancers, De Keersmaeker herself one of them. Both the individual character of the six suites and their mutual interconnections emerge from this riveting symbiosis of music and dance.

Photographer Anne Van Aerschot captured the essence of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s latest creation Mitten wir im Leben sind/Bach6cellosuiten. Next to a large selection of pictures by photographer Anne Van Aerschot it includes an interview with artists Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Jean-Guihen Queyras, and texts by Jan Vandenhouwe, Wannes Gyselinck and Floor Keersmaekers. In English.

Buy here.

33 years on and I’m still dancing Fase and the Violin Phase solo. I have to find in a consistent manner a new vocabulary that I can dance for the next decade. Jean-Guihen Queyras is an exceptional cellist because he has the ability to play baroque, romantic and contemporary music at the highest level. His invitation to collaborate was a surprise to me, and an honour, but is now primarily a challenge. I consider it an exceptional opportunity to write a ‘dance for the years to come’ to the music of Bach.

ANNE-TERESA DE KEERSMAEKER

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