One of the prime keys to Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s longevity and continued poignancy as a choreographer is surely her knack for harnessing the talents, especially musical, of other artists. EXIT ABOVE – after the tempest is signed by four names, spanning as many generations: De Keersmaeker herself (63), Jean-Marie Aerts (71), producer and guitarist of 80s eurorock band TC Matic, who has long harboured a desire to work with De Keersmaeker, Meskerem Mees (23), Belgian singer-songwriter of Ethiopian origin, a rising star in the world of folk who has always wanted to dance, and Carlos Garbin (43), dancer-musician and performer with Rosas since 2009. Garbin’s knowledge of blues music and prodigious guitar playing provides the backbone of the work, both rhythmically and in the soulful rendering of the human plight which is the essence of the blues.
Coming to De Keersmaeker’s famous PARTS school in 2004 from the municipal dance company of Caxias do Sul, Brazil, Garbin – the least well-known name of the four co-creators – joined Rosas straight after graduating. Never considering himself a typical Rosas dancer, his somewhat gangly and introverted presence has nevertheless been in no less than thirteen productions, including sharing the stage alone with De Keersmaeker in Twice, the choreographer’s experimental sequel to the solo Once, on the music of Joan Baez.
About 10 years ago, Garbin, developed an interest in the blues that rapidly became an obsession. His musical contribution to Twice convinced Rosas to temporarily release him from the company and contribute to a scholarship he’d earned to study the blues in the USA.
‘If I wasn’t dancing, I was at home playing guitar for hours and hours. It wasn’t easy to master the very specific sliding, gliding, chord progressions and fingerpicking techniques,’ he explained, ‘but I worked all the time.’
Rehearsing with the company during the day, he’d organise evening concerts in cafes throughout Belgium, together with other blues obsessed musicians.