It´s going to get worse and worse and worse, my friend

Voetvolk vzw, Antwerp, Belgium, 2012
Directed by Lisbeth Gruwez

about the production

It’s going to get worse and worse and worse, my friend is a dance solo which caused a real upheaval among the professional and general public. Shortly after the debut it was staged on almost all prominent European stages and festivals.

Lisbeth Gruwez has created it with a firn link to the sound composition of the Belgian musician Maarten Van Cauwenberghe, who was also the co-founder of the Voetvolk ensemble. The ambient and minimalistic riffs of the musical background, with fragments of an imperative, recorded sermon by the ultra-conservative American preacher Jimmy Swaggart are in full harmony with Gruwez’s movements on the stage, her glances and movements of arms. They create an increasingly growing feeling of tension, which results in a sudden transformation of the primarily pleasant impression of the charismatic dancer into a strange feeling of danger. Was it the raised hailing arm or was it still the elements of ballet? As far as the impact is concerned, the technique perfectly corresponds with the topic of the performance – the winningness of extreme religious or political speeches is not visible at first. Their manipulative demagogy, however, affects our feelings and minds with an increasing intensity, and, imperceptibly, as if in a hypnotic elation, takes us to where they want to get us.

Gruwez really brings the expression means to a minimum – she forgoes any large complex compositions, stage setting, or any other external effects but rather concentrates only on several gestures – dance phrases. They are firmly bound to words, speech fragments. In this way she creates a new expression of her own – her own physical anti-sermon about manipulation. In cyclic repetitions, in interestingly and surprisingly pointed variations these few words and gestures cut deeper and deeper into us – they are messages as sharp as razors. About mankind, ourselves, our failures, shortcomings and pettiness.

Nevertheless, this is not a work of art which aims at moralising. It intends to show what power can hide in a well-chosen combination of words and gestures, while it studies its effects on listeners as well as the speaker. She lets explode this Molotov cocktail of empty words and charismatic speeches before herself and her viewers. Is it a rehearsed trance the dancer gets into? What is the value of a trance, if it is only rehearsed? Just as in a dervish dance, physical laws assist a change of mind. Gruwez does not deny it, quite the opposite. She unfolds the precarious abuse of mechanisms playing with extreme emotions and states of mind, whereby offering a very scarce and sincere self-reflection of a performative artist putting to test the limits of the appeal ambition in theatrical art.
Maja Hriešik

“There is nothing one needs to understand. Words don´t make sentences. And the body – words don’t mean anything. It radiates a different kind of understanding, not based on speech. A kind of physical semantics. The flare up is a little too speedy and would need a different sort of profoundness. The speed is accelerating; the tension is growing in crescendo. The body is more important than words. Its stiffness manifests austerity. Its posture reveals the dangers of speech. In the end Lisbeth Gruwez jumps up and gives out enormous energy. We apprehend that vehemence and harrowing. The body stretches on the floor. Speeches can kill. The shoulders pop up, as if fired out. Turning by 180 degrees, marching upward the stage. The interpreter and choreographer has said what she had to say, physically and with passion.”
Charlotte Imbault,, May 2012

“Control is what it is all about. Form is the key. And the power with which Lisbeth Gruwez affirms dance with bravura. End of babbling. End of modesty. From now on it will get worse, friends. Let it come down.”
Melanie Suchy, BALLET TANZ


concept, choreography and dance: lisbeth gruwez
composition, sounddesign, assistance: Maarten van Cauwenberghe
styling: veronique Branquinho
artistic advisor: Bart Meuleman
light design: Harry Cole
light assistance: Caroline Mathieu
thanks to: Tom de weerdt
coproduction: grand Theater groningen, Troubleyn/jan Fabre, Theater im Pumpenhaus and AndwhatBeside(s)Death


Lisbeth Gruwez (1977) has entered the history of dance with the legendary work of Jan Fabre Quando l’uomo principale e una donna. On the stage drowned in olive oil, with a hypnotizing, never-ending, smooth movement, she denied the principles of dance existence on the stage and gave up any firm point. It was in 2004. At that time she was active as a very young dancer in the Troubleyn ensemble. Prior to that, she had graduated from one of the best known contemporary dance schools P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels and cooperated with several key Belgian theatre personalities, such as Kim de Wandekeybus or Jan Lauwers, who is also known to the Nitra audience. At present, Lisbeth Gruwez works in the small-scale group Voetvolk (Infantry). The name of the dance group itself suggests that she is faithful to the idea of very intensive physical work, emphasizing the concentrated presence of the performer on the stage, requiring his/her total onset. This was the idea to which Jan Fabre, this guru and enfant terrible of the Belgian theatre world, led his dancers – or rather beauty fighters, as he calls them.