From about 1980 on, I was drawn to the dance studios of the Netherlands Dance Theater in The Hague and the inspired modern dance of choreographer Jirí Kylián. I made hundreds of sketches, often virtually abstract line drawings, just following the essential line of the movement. The evolution and rehearsal of new choreography inspired numerous watercolours (combined with oil pastels). Kylian’s talent for bringing together two or more figures into a group that resembled a beautiful calligraphic symbol, or maybe a knot, appealed to me. He worked like a calligrapher moving across space.
In 1987 the Netherlands Ballet Orchestra commissioned me to paint a seven-metre long “mural” for the Dance Theater. It would represent the relationship between the orchestra and conductor in the pit and the dancers on stage. The eight irregular panels of the mural were constructed to “float” just free of the wall, suggesting a flowing rhythm across which the almost abstract dancers leapt. This acrylic painting is my biggest ever.
In 1989 I was given the opportunity to work with the choreographer Philip Taylor, to co-create a modern ballet for the opening of the Holland Dance Festival.
Rather than just projecting my live kinetic paintings on to a backdrop, I designed three huge white panels shaped in irregular curves that could hang above and behind the dancers. For each of the eight movements of Eight Inventions for Percussion by Miloslav Kabelač, these panels took on a different position and became my projection screens. The dancers, costumed in white, were bathed my projected colours.