Lisbeth Gruwez dances Bob Dylan

DJD Dance Studio, Saturday November 3

Review by Stephen Hunt

I never realized I miss Bob Dylan, until Lisbeth Gruwez danced him back into my life.

Belgian native Gruwez paid a return visit to the Fluid Festival this weekend, performing a solo jukebox dance performance that was as informal, and poetic and intimate as the music itself.

Gruwez didn’t actually go searching for some Dylan songs to choreograph a new show to.

Instead, that was the music her creative partner Maarten Van Cauwenberghe would play for her to warm up to prior to a performance — melodious, rhythmic, relaxed and filled with unforgettable imagery.

Not music you’d put on if you were deejaying in a nightclub — but from the moment the first notes — along with some snap, crackle and pop from the needle hitting the LP — it sounded right.

Gruwez is a relaxed, intimate performer who has a way of eliminating the imaginary border that separates the performer from the audience.

The piece itself is essentially minimalist: just Gruwez, with Van Cauwenberghe upstage right, playing Dylan records, like some retro DJ who escaped from a West Village house party circa 1963.


It all has a very improvisational feel to it, in the best way — it feels fresh, unselfconscious, and hopeful, sort of like I hear the 60’s were for the world.

Dylan’s melodies and his lyrics — his storytelling, whether on the bluesy Blind Willie Lemon or something more iconic, like Lay Lady Lay — remind you of why Bob Dylan meant so much, to so many. They’re personal and informal, much like Gruwez’s performances, and transformative too — Dylan’s songwriting stripped the artifice away from American music much the same way Gruwez strips the artifice away from contemporary dance.


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Stephen Hunt is the 2018 Fluid Festival writer in residence.  He donated 100% of his fee to Springboard Arts.

Contact: Twitter@halfstep/Instagram@halfstep86

(Feature photograph Lisbeth Gruwez. Copyright Luc Depreitere)