Discover Benelux | Bruges | Art & Culture
Christian Rizzo. Photo: Mario Sinistaj
Samme Raeymaekers. Photo: Ellen De Meulemeester
‘Bruges has more than just a lot of cultural heritage – thanks to the Concertgebouw, contemporary dance is booming in this Belgian city.’ Photo: Jaime Roque De La Cruz
A melting pot of cultural affairs TEXT: JULIËN L’ORTYE | PHOTOS: CONCERTGEBOUW BRUGGE
Every year, over seven million tourists visit Bruges. We are guessing that the majority is very aware of the huge cultural heritage and historic buildings the Belgian city has to offer, but what they might not know is that it is one of the main places in Europe when it comes to contemporary dance. This is a great reason for us to chat with Samme Raeymaekers, who is artistic coordinator at the Concertgebouw Brugge and – amongst other things - responsible for the dance festival December Dance. “Quite some time ago, Bruges was seen as a city where only ‘old’ art could be found. Thanks to the Concertgebouw, the city has profiled itself as a place full of contemporary art.” December Dance has a very important share in this, as it focuses on large, well-known ballet and contemporary ballet companies (such as Ballet de Lyon) and renowned choreographers, such as Frenchman Christian Rizzo, the curator of December Dance 17, who will open and close this year’s
festival with two different dance performances. Raeymaekers is very proud of the festival, describing it as “something that has a huge touristic attraction, especially in a time when everything is being overshadowed by the holiday stress”. Concertgebouw Brugge was opened in 2002, when Bruges was named Europe’s cultural capital and was built because of the urge to (be able to) organise classical and contemporary music events. Raeymaekers: “Bruges is an important hotspot for contemporary dance: together with the Cultuurcentrum, we present over 45 performances each year, with a very international orientation. We are bringing Bruges to the world – and the world to Bruges.” The Concertgebouw is considered to have one of the best acoustics in Europe, especially as it rests on more than 4,500 ‘poles’. For that reason, there are many orchestras and music ensembles that enjoy coming (and returning) here, accord-
ing to Raeymaekers. This year, you do not need a ticket for a performance anymore to be able to look inside the building. Raeymaekers: “As of September, we have created a new route throughout the Concertgebouw, so both tourists and locals are able to have a peek inside to see how we work and what the interior looks like.” The route is filled with art works, particularly created for this affair and a new café will be opened as well. So even if you are not into contemporary art or dance, there are no excuses anymore not to visit the Concertgebouw when in Bruges.
Issue 45 | September 2017 | 55
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.