Randi De Vlieghe is one of our most versatile choreographers. He moves like a chameleon between the dance and theatre circuit and creates productions for children youth as well as adults. In 2009, he was awarded the Flemish Culture Prize for Youth Theatre by the Flemish Community.
When he works with young, non-professional dancers, De Vlieghe predominantly focuses on the baggage they carry with them. Taking time to discover their talents, but also working with them in-depth and going beyond the external characteristics such as musical taste is important in this respect.
The journey travelled by this West Fleming who moved to Antwerp is inextricably linked to fABULEUS. Around the turn of the century, he produced four major group choreographic pieces with young people from this Leuven production house, followed in 2008 by Gender Blender. When he works with young, non-professional dancers, De Vlieghe predominantly focuses on the baggage they carry with them. Taking time to discover their talents, but also working with them in-depth and going beyond the external characteristics such as musical taste is important in this respect.
In his theatre pieces De Vlieghe is more anarchic and tries to crack codes, while in his dance productions he pursues the pure force of the dance medium. Take the example of Blauwe Storm (2011), a successful dance production for children aged six and above. There was no real story, just the emotional setting of three girls that break free of their oppressive school context and brave a fierce storm (a metaphor for their regained freedom). The dance material in Blauwe Storm is based on small gestures such as buttoning up dresses or rebels that show their panties, but stripped of any anecdote and abstracted to pure dance. Blauwe Storm proves that it is possible to captivate children with little experience of watching contemporary dance for an hour, without a story, but with enough enthralling scenes.
Blauwe Storm proves that it is possible to captivate children with little experience of watching contemporary dance for an hour, without a story, but with enough enthralling scenes.
Besides his dance projects with fABULEUS Randi De Vlieghe also regularly appears as an actor with Studio Orka and a performer or maker with BRONKS (Brussels), HETPALEIS (Antwerp) and Kopergietery (Ghent). In each of these three large youth theatres he has created productions and played in collective creations with like-minded souls, such as the crazy productions Wawilwiedoen (2009) with Ruth Beeckmans, Dominique Van Malder and Joris Hessels and Het verdragen van Versailles (2008) with companions Steven Beersmans and Natascha Pire. Together with Pascale Platel he created Ola Pola Potloodgat (2001), which won the witty duo the Grote Theaterfestivalprijs. Solar City (2009), for which the cycling race track ’t Kuipke in Ghent was hired as the location, was just as hilarious.
Randi De Vlieghe proved he is bold enough to create large-scale and eccentric productions in 2012 with ZOO doen ze de dingen. In this instant hit for children aged six and over he allowed his unbridled imagination to run wild and created wonderful images in which the splendour of the animal kingdom was brought to the stage. Not only by portraying beasties, but also by applying the way in which animals seduce and intimidate each other to humans, as you can see in the next clip.
Although humour is still extremely important, the most powerful productions by Randi De Vlieghe never involve laughter alone, but always include an ironic or melancholic undertone. One of his most recent success stories was Voetbal op hoge hakken (2014), which he created with Jef Van gestel. Both performers played freely with all the clichés that exist about men and women: from the tough guy that cooks sausages on the barbecue to the made-up little girl that readily parades on a catwalk, and everything else in between. De Vlieghe already explored this theme in Gender Blender as well in as his solo The Day Dolly Danced (2005), an ode to Dolly Parton.
Although humour is still extremely important, the most powerful productions by Randi De Vlieghe never involve laughter alone, but always include an ironic or melancholic undertone.
Because of the fumbling of the gender stereotypes and the latent present homoerotic tension, Voetbal op hoge hakken (which can be translated as “football in high heels”) had a rare provocative effect on the hormones of the bellowing teenage audience in the room. When, after an hour of De Vlieghe and Van gestel performing absurd dressing up shows and bizarre acts they finally present their statement borrowed from Morrissey “It’s so easy to laugh or hate/ It takes guts to be gentle and kind” sprayed in graffiti on the wall, they had the teenagers in the room totally wrapped up in their inclusive message. Because teenagers can also easily identify with homophobia, sexism or other forms of exclusion. In the Netherlands Voetbal op hoge hakken won the VSCD Mime Prize for the best physical, wordless production of 2015. Despite this recognition it seems that it is not that evident for programmers and schools to book a production with such a challenging theme.
In recent years, Randi De Vlieghe has also regularly acted as a coach for productions by related artists that explore cross-overs between dance and theatre, such as Tuning People, Marieke Dermul or a few young makers at the Vaartfestival in Leuven, linked to fABULEUS. He is also currently focusing on his own non-profit organisation Moldavië, so that in the future he can also work more independently in addition to his projects with the different youth theatres and production houses.