„As a performer you need to be a bit crazy“

Paulien Truijen @Cie.Woest
Fotos: Cie Woest

A pineapple, a present and lot of office chairs are part of the dance performance „Balancing Bodies“ of Cie. Woest. They show the piece on 24th and 25th of january at PURPLE dance festival in Berlin. Dancer Paulien Truijen talks about what happens on stage, how she founded the company and why she likes site-specific performances.

Paulien, you’ve founded Woest with Manon Avermaete. How come and why?

We were in the same class at the Theaterschool/modern dance department in Amsterdam from 2003-2007. We first became friends and travelled together, after that we realized that we also liked to create performances together. This we kept on doing after school and Cie. Woest was born! 

What is very typical for Woest?

Performances on unusual spaces with recognizable movements with touch of humor. As a performer you need to be theatrical, good in partner work and a bit crazy. 

„Outdoors you have a lot of situations you can’t predict“

You’ve founded your company with site-specific performances in the street and in the woods. What is the difference between playing outside and playing inside and what can you learn from it?

Outdoors you have a lot of situations you can’t predict. The weather, the people who come to visit or pass by, dogs barking… The performers have to be sharp and prepared for what’s coming. A performance outdoors is never the same. You learn to open yourselves and be prepared for the unknown. Improvise with the circumstances you’ll get. Our dancers need these qualities as well for “Balancing Bodies“! 

The audience can choose where they want to sit throughout the whole performance. If you want to sit first row, or safely hidden in the back. What can they expect?

We wanted to create a performance space that was off balance. We give responsibility to our audience to co-create the performance. Together we make the balance of the performance, each performance is different and unique. Every time we perform, we search again for the right balance with the audience.


„We give responsibility to our audience“

Balancing Bodies. Copyright: Young Dance Festival.

How do you rehearse a piece like „Balancing Bodies“, which is always different when you perform it?

When we created it, it was a big question mark how our audience would react. Before we premiered it in 2018, we have had several try-outs with test audiences. With these experiences, we made a base of movements and actions where the performers could hold on to, but with every performance we get challenged again and learn from it for the next performance. 

How do you experience the piece as a dancer?

I am a dancer, but also the production leader. So I prepare for every performance again all the props we need to the performance, and trust me: we have a lot of stuff! Our big yellow van was never so full as with “Balancing Bodies”! If something breaks or the audience finishes it, I will make sure it gets fixed or replaced for the next performance! 

“ With every performance we get challenged again“

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More Information

„Balancing Bodies“ of Cie.Woest will be shown at PURPLE – Internationales Tanzfestival für junges Publikum, here is a link to an interview with the curator of the dance festival, Canan Erek