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Inside the studio: Week Eleven Layers of Skin

Last week Layers of Skin got its final layer added with a wonderful group of community dancers from Antwerp. 4 outdoor public workshops introduced the style of work, followed by a Saturday workshop for anyone interested in being a part of Layers of Skin. 50 people aged from age 11 to 67 came and after a fantastic session, the company had the challenging task of selecting 12 of them to perform alongside them in the final production. The group selected is full of passion and drive that you don’t see everywhere and they have been brilliant to work with. Below are some of their comments about the week. Reading them makes me realise how lucky we are to be doing this project, and how important it is to make these opportunities happen.

Carmen Lauwers age 23: Working with Retina is a delight! It’s been 5 years since I quit dancing, and I can’t imagine a more exciting project to get back into it. There are (almost) no words to describe how heart warming the company is. The dancers are very patient while teaching the different moves. You can ask the same question over and over again. It’s very inspiring to be a tiny part of this amazing energetic production. The dancers show an enormous physical power and they always keep pushing themselves to the next level. I’m enjoying every rehearsal and go home in admiration of the dancers, and put on the films of the latest rehearsal on the website. This opportunity makes me remember why I started dancing in the first place and now I keep asking myself, why did I ever quit? Thank you Retina for this amazing experience, thanks to you I found the love of dancing back! Hope this week will last forever.

Ytsje de Boer age 45: It is a unique opportunity to work with the professional dancers of Retina to a real performance. It is a dream that came true for me. It is great to see that the dancers of Retina are a real group of dancers working together, and also like to teach pieces of dance to others. Moreover, it is really inspiring to work in this project with all kinds of people of different ages and background. I would like to end with a quote: ‘A man is not old until regrets start taking place of dreams’ – Anonymous

Beja Pingnet age 55: I’m very happy with the friendliness, the playfulness and the patience of Filip and the Retina dancers in showing us how to participate in a very dynamic dancing project. It’s very special to me that I can contribute to this with my slower dynamism. It’s also great that we can be on the stage the whole time and watch the dancing. I really do enjoy it.

Patricia Budini age 41: I think it is a dream for anyone who is passionate about dance, to experience what it is to be so close and be part of a real professional dance performance. By participating in the rehearsals this week, I became totally captivated because of the dynamic and enthusiasm of the whole group. I experience what it’s like to be part of a whole, each dancer is important and has their contributions. The piece Layers of Skin is really dynamic and breathtaking.

An Baeyens age 38: I guess I wanted to be part of the production, to be on a stage for once, maybe the last time in my life. I also wanted my children to be able to see me and be proud of me, sort of the other way around as when I go to their gym events and school plays. I didn’t really know what contemporary dance was like, especially not the improvising. It made me feel very uneasy at first, as there are no mirrors when we practise, I felt terribly daft, to be honest. But maybe everyone else thought that too. It’s when you look self-assured, that you don’t look daft, I guess. Retina’s dancers are nice people. I was amazed at the size of the girls’ leg muscles. Impressive! I wonder what it’s like for them to live here in Belgium and dance so much of the time. Do they know all the good pubs and restaurants in Antwerp or is there no time or energy for all that? I could give them a few tips…!

Eddy Merckx age 45: Sometimes by coincidence we meet someone, then you get the chance to step on to a passing bus that can bring you to a higher level in your life. You step on or you don’t, if you don’t it will be gone and maybe, it will never return. I taught myself to take these chances. So to cut a long story short …. I am part of this energetic experience called Layers of Skin, these are the things that dreams are made of and make life so beautiful. Thanks for sharing Retina!

Patricia Ceuppens age 39: A few years ago, I saw RAUW in CC Berchem and I liked the piece so much that I didn’t hesitate a moment to participate to the workshops. So I was really happy to be selected to participate for Layers of Skin! As a lover of dance, I am grateful to have the possibility to dance with professional dancers and to see the process of creating this piece. For me it’s also interesting to learn about another way of life of the dancers in contrast with my own way of life. I also like the relaxed, funny way Filip and the other dancers teach us the phrases, without any stress with 100% of trust in the community dancers! It’s really nice. Learning other ways of movements and techniques (lifting, pulling, pushing, falling, movements on the ground …) are very enriching for me. I experience Retina Dance Company as a cohesive group of sympathetic, nice people, who can work very hard but always with a large dose of fun. The piece itself is GREAT, spectacular and original! I am sure it will be etched in the memory of the public! I admire the dancers for their talent, physically and mentally and the fact they can memorize all the phrases so easily. So, THANK YOU very much for this fantastic experience! I am looking forward next Thursday and the days after….

Wim Bouchery age 37: – I wanted to be part of Layers of Skin because I love modern dance. It moves me more than anything else. But I have only been a spectator. I wanted to experience what it’s like to perform. I wanted to know how a dance piece is ‘put together’, how dancers work, prepare,… Thanks to Retina and it’s wonderfully talented, incredibly patient and just super kind dancers, I’ve been able to experience all this! There is a very positive, optimistic and ambitious atmosphere at Retina. Everyone works hard towards the same goal, but there’s always room for a joke. I must say it’s hard work, especially staying focused, because I love the physical side of it. Very often movements or dance phrases that, at first sight, seem very easy to elaborate are a real struggle for an amateur like me. The day before yesterday, when we first saw the whole piece, I was stunned. It looked fantastic and I was watching the dancers with great admiration (and a little bit of jealousy). I’m sure the audience is going to love it! So, thanks to everyone at Retina Dance Company!

Jef Stevens says: I’m 63 now and every time it’s quite a challenge to perform. This time I got the opportunity to enter the active Retina volcano to add my small contribution as community dancer to Layers of Skin. We just finished the first week and I can say I am enjoying it with my older flexibility and motorics in the midst of the powerful dynamics of all these young dancers. In my opinion, it adds to the whole. Filip Van Huffel has what it takes to get out of you what is there already. He invites me with a smile and I go for it every time. And he doesn’t keep that skill to himself, the professional dancers of the Retina team have the same attitude. It’s a luxury to be able to work with them. I’m thriving in such a setting. My body flourishes and the whole of me starts dancing. No wonder I feel really well. I’m aware of these energy flows going everywhere and return home every day a happy man. So give me more of these chances. Something in two weeks from now? Next month? I’m getting greedy.

Buy Tickets for Layers of Skin premiere at Cultuurcentrum Berchem on June 23, 24 & 25

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