P.A.R.T.S. is a school for contemporary dance. It provides a thorough technical training for dancers and choreographers, and helps them develop into independent and creative artists. But dance is not an isolated art form; it is involved in a constant dialogue with the other performing arts – music and theatre. Both disciplines figure prominently in the curriculum, as P.A.R.T.S. always works towards the actual performance, the moment when the artist engages in a dialogue with the audience – the dancer as a performer, but also as a thinking performer. The school looks for students who are strong individuals yet possess a sense of group dynamics.
P.A.R.T.S. was founded in 1995, with the intention to provide a pedagogical anchoring for contemporary dance in Belgium, which had started in the early 1980s and had seen a quick and strong development since then. At that time, there were only a few institutions in Europe who resolutely focused on these new artistic developments. When Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker became the choreographer in residence at the national opera De Munt/La Monnaie in 1992, one of her ambitions was to answer this lack in educational possibilities for contemporary dance. She was also inspired by Mudra, the school of choreographer Maurice Béjart, where she had been a student herself, and which had moved with Béjart to Switzerland in 1987.
P.A.R.T.S. is first and foremost an artistic project. The curriculum is based on Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and other choreographers' extensive artistic practice. At the same time P.A.R.T.S. is a laboratory for the future. Art is not something you can learn, but we certainly hope that the material offered confronts and provokes, that it stimulates students to form their own opinions, that it proves to be a productive basis for their future artistic practice. In a word, P.A.R.T.S. sets out to be a place where critical and creative artistry can take root.
P.A.R.T.S. started in 1995 with a curriculum of three years, with each year a new group of incoming students. From the start, the school’s horizon was international, and teachers came from companies such as those of Trisha Brown, William Forsythe and Pina Bausch, artists who were considered as the artistic pillars of the program, next to De Keersmaeker’s own work.
The first generation of students graduated in 1998, a group of dancers and choreographers who immediately found work in the main dance companies or attracted public and critical attention with their own creations. P.A.R.T.S. can proudly say that this has become a regular pattern.
In 2000, the curriculum was restructured, and P.A.R.T.S. offered two cycles of two years each: the Training Cycle and the Research Cycle, offering students who had trained elsewhere the possibility to enter directly into the Research Cycle. Both cycles started only every two years.
In 2013, the transition to a new structure started. The Training Cycle was extended to three years and incorporates some of the methods and structures that were prominent in the previous Research Cycle. The Research Studios are a completely new programme with a stronger focus on artistic research, which started in 2015 with two pilot programs, and will find its definitive form from 2017 onwards.
P.A.R.T.S. shares its infrastructure with the dance company Rosas and the contemporary music ensemble Ictus. The infrastructure comprises ten bright, spacious, professionally outfitted dance studios. The school has five studios permanently at its disposal. Students may make free use of these studios in the evening (18.00-22.00), during the weekends and during most of the holiday periods.
Student performances and the presentation of students' productions take place in the P.A.R.T.S. studios or the Rosas Performance Space.