Asier Edeso ©Alice Blangero
©Alice Blangero
©Alice Blangero
Asier Edeso ©Alice Blangero
©Alice Blangero
©Alice Blangero

True and False Unicorn


With True and False unicorn, Jeroen Verbruggen is first and foremost concerned with our own inherent nature. Our indifference and cruelty has inspired the choreographer's work, as has the ignorance or borderline superstition of yesteryear with respect to species we are unfamiliar with. The young artist delved into natural history books, thus discovering how little-known animals were incorporated into the fantastical and transformed into mythological beasts. One of the most famous examples of this is the unicorn, a creature that occupies the central role in his ballet.

The choreographer drew on the poems of James Broughton, True and False Unicorn, an ode to the mythical horse that is in fact a self-portrait of the writer himself. In describing the mysterious, elusive unicorn, the poet is referring to himself and the complexity of Man as he seeks his true self and yearns to be understood by others. In the same way, Jeroen Verbruggen's piece is highly personal and reveals a number of facets of the choreographer's personality. Just like the unicorn, he too is wild, untameable and sometimes misunderstood. According to him, artists have a mad streak that lies within and pushes them to "throw ideas around" to express themselves and be heard by others.

One specific aspect of the unicorn also captured Jeroen Verbruggen's imagination: the way in which Queen Elizabeth I, the 'Virgin Queen', became associated with the creature. Obsessed with her virginity,
this great strategist was said to own a real unicorn horn. The Queen's motto was video et taceo ("I see and say nothing"), hinting at her highly developed sense of diplomacy and skilful use of manipulation.
Eroticism and manipulation: the fusing of these two concepts has always been at the heart of Jeroen Verbruggen's work.
It came as no great surprise, then, to see the corseted costumes of his Sigmund Freud ballet, the couples embracing and reflecting on whether or not their kisses are still pure, or instead void of any meaning…


Choreography: Jeroen Verbruggen
Costumes: Emmanuel Maria
Scenography: Émilie Roy
Lighting: Samuel Thery
Music: True and False unicorn, Einojuhani Rautavaara after the poems by James Broughton, “Cold Song” by An Pierlé