KAIHO was unofficially founded in 2015 through the creation of the solo “Subdued” by Brandon Lagaert. Since then he has expanded the company and went on to collaborate with various artists. The company does no want to rely on structural funding but rather on commissioned work for various companies, schools and individuals that already have the required funding and audience but are looking for an artistic voice and input that has the ability to create for and with them. Following this logic KAIHO is based around a core team consisting of Brandon Lagaert in the role of artistic director, Sara Angelucci who’s the artistic assistant and Felix Machtelinckx who composes the music and soundscape of the touring performances. The work of KAIHO incorporates theatre, dance, visual imagery, film, plastic arts, lighting, music,… and uses any art form necessary to create artistic work that crosses boundaries and ends up telling a story.
Artistic director, KAIHO
Brandon Lagaert has mainly crafted his signature style while working for the internationally renowned dance-theatre company Peeping Tom as a multidisciplinary performer in the pieces ‘Vader’, ‘Moeder’, ‘Kind’, ‘Dido & Aeneas’ and ‘La Visita’. Touring with the company worldwide for a decade he was an integral part and known for his surreal mixture between text and movement. Lagaert combines elements coming from different disciplines such as urban / contemporary dance, theatre / film into a unique style. He does this under the name of his company KAIHO of which the award-winning performances ‘Subdued’ and ‘Doggy Rugburn’ have been an integral part. Since 2023 on he has been focussing heavily on building out his company through various collaborations: A site specific creation called “Abandoned Minds” with Rui Paixāo and a new touring performance for dance company Equilibrio Dinamico called “Welcome to my funeral”.
Artistic assistant, KAIHO
Sara’s academic dance career started in 2015 while studying at the Dance Arts Faculty and ended in 2018 while being part of the dance program at the Nuova Officina della Danza. In 2021 she became part of the emerging Franco-Swiss company Snorkel Rabbit, directed by Bryan Arias and Alba Carbonel Castillo, in the pieces “A distant perception” and “100 years”. Sara recently starred as a performer in “Zèbre” in collaboration with Antonin Comestaz produced by Korzo and NDT. For the last 2 years Sara has been working for KAIHO as an artistic assistant for creations such as “Watching Beards Grow’ of Equilibrio Dinamico Ensemble” and “Next Stop” of the AHK.
Lighting designer, KAIHO
Thibault Condy has devoted himself for more than 15 years exclusively to the work of light(ing), in all its forms, in a cross path between cinema and live performance. First trained in the performing arts at the University of Mirail de Toulouse, as part of the III license directed by Arnaud Rykner, then in cinema imagery at the Institut des Arts de Diffusion in Belgium where he presented a research dissertation entitled “Improvised Cinema Filming:, he then continued his career as a director of photography / cinematographer and stage performance lighting designer, constantly seeking to feed one with the other. He has since collaborated with À Nos Fantômes by Cie Menteuses, Valhalla by Cie PetriDish, Mousse by Cie Scratch, Lions by Cie Poivre Rose, All The Fun and How To Welcome the Aliens by Cie EaEo, LOOP by Cie Stoptoï and ECHO of the company Le Geste qui Sauve. He is currently working in the creation of Drache Nationale by Cie Scratch, Plonger by Cie Meneuses, and Talweg by PetriDish.
Author and performer, KAIHO
Marina Cherry is a contortionist/acro-dancer, educated at ESAC (Brussels) and ENC (Montreal). Her research-based approach to creation and performing puts her somewhere between dance, contemporary circus and physical theatre; with her body as the tool of manipulation and method for redefining traditional constructs and deconstructing techniques to find her own language. She is currently based in Brussels and is still actively touring her first solo show Only Bones v.1.6 (original conception by Thomas Monckton) as well as working on collaborative projects around Europe, including companies Les Argonauts (BE), Petri Dish (BE/SE), Cirkus Cirkör (SE), and Vaudeville by the Decavita Sisters (SE). Marina has recently completed a degree in philosophy with the University of London (2022).
Kunstenwerkplaats VONK is a studio and residency space for visual and performance arts in Hasselt and Genk, Belgium. At their 3 buildings they support artists with artistic feedback, an international network, presentation opportunities, studio-space and a financial contribution (for the residencies).
Nau Ivanow is a space of welcome, accompaniment, research and innovation; a haven where companies will find the warmth needed to work unhurriedly and in good conditions. Residencies are the main focus of what we do. Our aim is to provide decent working conditions, always accompanying the artists and providing them with the resources they need. Nau Ivanow’s projects are underpinned by three major working axes: creation, accompaniment and work with the territory. And all of them with one common denominator: internationalization, which permeates each and every one of our projects.
Sõltumatu Tantsu Lava (STL) is a dance performance and development center in Tallinn, Estonia. STL’s vision is to focus on contemporary dance art in its various forms of expression. In addition to performances, they host workshops, creative residencies, educational lectures, the platform Premiere for up- and coming choreographers, and the artist platform Greenfield. The stage room is 154 m2 and can be used as a black box or a white box.
Who is KAIHO?
The performance collective KAIHO consists of Brandon Lagaert, founder, and artistic director of the collective, performer and contortionist Marina Cherry, artistic assistant Sara Angelucci and light designer Thibault Condy. Together, they explore the borders and similarities between dance, theatre and all kinds of movement.
What is the project you are working on?
Marina: We are working on a performance called ‘Avoid’, in which we explore themes such as solitude and the particular notion of hikikomori, a Japanese term for extreme social withdrawal. During our time in Hasselt (BE), we decided to make a short film to explore the ideas we wanted to touch upon, as a supplement to the larger project, and shot some scenes in an Asian supermarket as well as inside my own home. I saw it as a prelude to the final performance.
How did you come across the concept of hikikomori and why did it inspire you?
Brandon: I am quite bad at remembering how and where things started, but Marina contacted me with the invitation to collaborate and I was interested in how she, with a background in circus and contortionism, uses her body to tell stories, which is something I very much relate to as a dancer. I think we use flexibility in a different way but both of us were interested in exploring something more narrative and more theatrical. We knew it was going to be a solo and we were looking for ways of dealing with the meaning of the single body on the stage – as we did not want to present the audience with the ‘task’ of just ‘enduring’ sixty minutes of movement, just because it is performed on a stage. Therefore, we really wanted to find a reason as to why this character is on the stage by herself and then, somehow, we came across the idea of hikikomori, which inspired us to further dive into the themes of loneliness and solitude. From there on, we started searching for the things that made us feel something — the things that, quite literally, ‘move’ the character or lead to a specific action on stage. Sometimes, the theme is not necessarily that important, in the sense that its main function is to inspire us to explore this project further, but that we are not constantly focusing on social anxiety or hikikomori. There are also moments when we just zoom in on the character: maybe she is watching a movie or daydreaming, so it does not need to be heavy all the time. We also do not feel the need or wish to convey a very delineated message about these themes.
Marina: We were looking for similarities and this subject touched both of us. I had written down a lot of ideas that were rather vague on the particularity of the solo and the struggle a lot of artists might experience in terms of presenting your internal world externally. Going from there, we were just throwing around ideas and then we came across the notion of hikikomori. Now, I think, it serves as a useful foundation, but not everything we are doing is (or needs to be) connected to it in an obvious manner.
What are things you wish to provoke with your work?
Brandon: Well, I think it is more about opening a dialogue around loneliness…
Marina: That is exactly what I was going to say!
Brandon: Yes, or around social anxiety and how it affects people. But then again, we are not scientists looking at data, we are trying to tell a personal story: this is a person that has struggled with it, let them tell their story. And we try to do that in different cultural contexts, as we are doing now in Hasselt and as we will be doing in Estonia and Spain — and hopefully we can do it in Asia one day. In this way, we try to understand common denominators: maybe there is something we all have in common across cultures? And of course, there are very specific ways of dealing with it, specific to certain cultural contexts. In any case, it is more about making the topic more accessible to people, to get them to talk about it, rather than pointing the finger or judging how people deal with it. I find it difficult to see a show that tells me I am the bad guy even though I am the one seeing your show and paying for you to be on stage — I find that a bit hypocritical. So that is not what we want to do here. I think it is about setting out some lines and giving the audience the crayons to color it in for themselves.
Marina: Yes, I do not think we are trying to propose any solutions to what loneliness is or how to cure it, it is about opening the space and the dialogue for people to feel comfortable talking about it, because it is still a very sensitive subject for a lot of people. And maybe, when we are not actually using words, and we are using our bodies, it will allow people to say it touched them somehow or provided them with a new way to reflect on and talk about how they experience loneliness.
In the context of Moving Identities, what do you want to develop further during your time there or what are you still curious about to explore in the rest of your trajectory?
Brandon: In Estonia, we are planning on working more on the performance itself and in Barcelona we will focus on the technical aspects such as the sound and the lighting. In terms of sound, we are still searching: it could become a tiny speaker on Marina’s body, or maybe hidden somewhere? For the lighting, we have done a bit of research into options that allow us to not solely rely on big light sources from above: maybe the light will come from a bottle of water, or maybe Marina will wear something that glows in the dark? We are still not sure, so we need some more research, but we are happy to do it.
Sara: Thibault (Condy), our light designer, will also join us during the third residency in Barcelona.
Brandon: The voice is also something that I am keen to explore further, and we have not had the time yet to work on that extensively, but I am really interested in researching it.
Marina: While I still want to keep it open and leave a lot of room for experiment, I am hoping to have more closure on the technical aspects and the scenography by the time we do the Barcelona residency, so I would love to explore that more in Estonia. We started the project with a table as our only stage prop, serving like a little house and an object that I could use to make my body move in ways I cannot do on my own, but we are not sure what elements we are keeping and adding.
Brandon: I think it is important to underline that our practice is very collaborative: even though we are talking about more technical aspects here, these inevitably impact the larger artistic process. For example, Thibault is going to bring his own flavour to the light design and that might influence the production in a way that we had not thought about. I feel like we are a collective that is very open to any input of the people we collaborate with.
Marina: I very much agree. The trust in this group is the core of our practice. It feels rather funny saying this, because it is so obvious when you are working with people that you connect with this well. It feels like a very harmonious way of working and we all contribute in our own ways. We are like little puzzle pieces that fit perfectly but are still able to shift and take on different roles.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.