José Besprosvany is a choreographer and theater director. Born in 1959 in Mexico, he later moved to Belgium, where he has been living for more than 40 years. Since the early 1980s, he has been one of the reformers of Francophone Belgian contemporary dance, notably through his work with the Mossoux-Bonté Company, Pierre Droulers, Michèle Noiret, and Michèle-Anne de Mey.
José Besprosvany attended the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, where he studied theater (mime, movement, acting, and mask play). During his studies as a dancer at Mudra (Brussels), the school founded by Maurice Béjart, he met the musician and teacher Fernand Schirren, who taught him that breathing and heartbeat are at the core of each word and gesture, and how bringing these two together results in rhythm. He then danced with Maurice Béjart’s 20th Century Ballet for two years.
In 1986, José Besprosvany founded his own company, which provides a vehicle for his constant quest to find different modes of expression, and has since resulted in a forceful and varied repertoire. His initial creations, Momentum (1984), Evento (1986) and Tempéraments (1988), minimalist in style, were followed by a series of productions that questioned the relationship between modern and classical languages, with Von Heute auf Morgen (1989), Apollon la Nuit (1990), and Retours (1992). After this, José explored the relationships between narrative and dance in Cuarteto (1993), built around a text by Marguerite Duras, and followed by Hombre Alado (1995) and Lara (1996), the choreography based on the anonymous text of a 15th-century Spanish epic. These shows were all included in the programs of notable dance centers. In 1992, he also created the choreographies for two operas presented at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie: Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Pascal Dusapin’s Medeamaterial.
In the late 1990s, José Besprosvany re-examined his work, which he judged to be too conformist, and began to approach choreography from a different angle, which he continues to develop to this day. Along with pieces by Maguy Marin and William Forsythe, he presented Dos y Dos (1999), an astonishing encounter between dance and live flamenco music. That same year, he created the musical Belle à mourir based on the Kurdish legend Mamé Alan, adapted by Thomas Gunzig. More recently, Triptico (2002) and 9 (2005) revealed a marked interest in non-Western performing arts, with a focus on the relationship between North and South.
His work has frequently incorporated puppetry, with La Princesse de Babylone (2003), a story adapted by Sébastien Barrez from a story by Voltaire, placed in an imaginary empire, and narrated and sung by actors, dancers, musicians and a storyteller, as well as A propos de Butterfly (2004), La Belle au bois de Dandaka (2007), and Prométhée Enchainé (Prometheus Bound – 2010). In 2011, Dobles took the concept of Récitations (2009) one step further, transforming it into a subtle technical duet for body and voice.
In early 2013, José Besprosvany directed and choreographed a production of Oedipe (Oedipus), adapted from Sophocles by Olivier Kemeid and acclaimed by the press as “blending all of the arts (speech, music, video, and choreographed movement) into a portrait of sight and sound that is both refined and moving: José Besprosvany’s puzzle on power and identity is one of his best works in a long time.” [Christian Jade, RTBF, January 15, 2013].
He created Espejo (2015), a dance production for two dancers, and directed a successful interpretation of Sophocles’ Antigone, premiered in 2017. In 2018, José created a new version of Stravinsky’s Petrushka and The Firebird, co-written with Laurent Brandenbourger, and presented in front of more than 16,000 spectators.
In parallel to his passion for dance, José Besprosvany is interested in directing for both theater and cinema. He directed Elles (1996) by Nicole Malinconi, Les Indifférents (1996) by Odilon-Jean Perier, and L’Invisibleby Philippe Blasband. He also directed Prométhée Enchainé (Prometheus Bound) by Aeschylus, adapted by Henry Bauchau (1998), and created the dance-video Andrès (1992) and the short film Le Dessin (2004), all of which have been presented at several international festivals.
He counts among his numerous awards and distinctions: Il Coreografo Electronico (Italy) and the Bert Leysen Prijs (Belgium), as well as the Special Jury Award in Danscreen (Germany) for the dance video Andrès (1993), the Award for the Best Show of the Year in the French-speaking community of Belgium for La Princesse de Babylone (2004), and the Spectators’ Award and Prize for New Art Forms at the Rainbow Festival (Russia) for A propos de Butterfly (2007).