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What’s on this week: 16-22 November

16:43 15/11/2018
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

Syrian dancer Ahmad Joudeh (pictured) fled his country in 2016, settling in Amsterdam. The words tattooed on the back of his neck, ‘Dance or Die’, are all-too real for him, having undergone death threats by extremists in his home country because of his work. With the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, he is bringing together musicians from different cultures for Diversity Makes Music. Together they pave a route from Syria to Turkey to Greece to Brussels through music and movement. Supported by Unesco, the concert is a reminder of the cultural traditions that are forever moving west in response to conflict. 21 November 20.15, Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix, Ixelles

Apphia Campbell’s one woman show Black is the Color of My Voice has been selling out venues around the world since its 2013 debut in the American actor’s homebase of Shanghai. A tribute and biopic of the inimitable jazz singer Nina Simone, its message is simple: One must make peace with the past in order to move forward. The show is performed in the original English. 21-24 November 20.30, TTO Théâtre, 396 Galerie de la Toison d’Or (Ixelles)

The Korean Film Festival is back in Brussels, and ‘metamorphosis’ is the theme: How do films rework their inspirations? From novels to strips to real-life experiences, these films had to figure out ways to use a whole other medium to tell their stories. 17-23 November, Bozar & Cinéma Galeries


Think an Ikea showroom but with a wide array of slightly more upscale brands, and you’ll realise the attraction of Cocoon, Brussels’ annual interior design fair. You’ll be bursting with ideas for your own abode after spending some time at this 10-day event at Brussels Expo. Besides putting together rooms loaded with beautiful furniture, lighting and storage ideas, Cocoon also offers workshops wherein professionals teach you how to combine colours, prints and textiles, as well as a Shopping Zone, where you can pick up your own décor or artsy gifts for others. 17-25 November, Brussels Expo, Place de Belgique 1

Canadian stand-up Bobby Mair presents his show Loudly Insecure, which would seem to describe many public figures these days. His indeed very public exchanges with conspiracy theorist Katie Hopkins and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have not gone unnoticed by a public delighted with his witty response to everyday insanities. He’s joined at the Black Sheep by Irish Comedian of the Year Peter Flanagan. 20 November 20.00, Chaussée de Boondael 8 (Ixelles)

The colossal sculpture ‘The Beginning and the End’ will have you looking at it for quite some time, recognising some little objects immediately and trying to figure others out. It’s created with thousands of found objects, one side very chaotic and the other quite structured. This represents the beginning and the end, says Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. Until 16 December, Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Rue de la Régence 3

Bang! Festival

Role play a refugee adapting to a new country, witness noise rock improvisation or learn to programme a pocket-sized music computer at the ‘radical child’ edition of the Bang! Festival. Cultural organisation KultuurKaffee – ostensibly for young people but with a great diversity of programming – has teamed up with three curators for the month-long festival determined to break down all sorts of boundaries. Site-specific, this year you’ll find the festival at Studio Citygate Brussels, a brand-new art and creative space in Anderlecht. Opening and closing parties and an ongoing exhibition, too. 15 November to 13 December, Rue des Goujons 152 (Anderlecht)

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s very first production is taken on by the Brussels Light Opera Company. A massive production, Oklahoma! Tells the story of simple farm girl Laury and her two cowboy suitors, giving us classic musical numbers such as the title song and ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ ’. 22-25 November, Auderghem Cultural Centre, Boulevard du Souverain 183

An Italian artist who lives in Brussels and London traces the final journey of an Austrian scientist. Teresa Cos’s sound and video installation The Measure of Disorder introduces visitors to Ludwig Boltzmann, a brilliant 19th-century physicist whose worsening mental health problems eventually drove him to take his own life. Until 23 December, Argos, Rue du Chantier 13

However well you do or don’t play the trombone, don’t miss Brussels Trombone Weekend, where classical and jazz master classes help you improve form and timing. If you do not play the trombone, just show up for the concert by The Rathpack at Brussels Jazz Station. 16-18 November, across Brussels

World Press Photo


You think your friends have taken some pretty good shots when they scroll before you on Facebook, and then you see the World Press Photo exhibition and remember what photography really is. Aside from knowing what to shoot and when, these photo journalist throw themselves headlong into conflict regions average citizens are fleeing in order to survive. The 160 photographs that were ultimately selected from more than 70,000 entries for this year’s edition portray the war in Syria or the massacre of the Rohingyas in Myanmar with great honesty. But you’ll also see many sides of contemporary global society in all of its complexity and humanity. Until 13 January, La Cité Miroir, Place Xavier Neujean 22, Liège

Think Flanders and Wallonia don’t get along? The annual Next Festival begs to differ, as it crosses borders, taking place in 19 cities of the Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Eurometropolis. That’s one of the EU-designated cross-border regions that work together on all sorts of issues, including tourism, culture and mobility. In the case of Next – which throws in the city of Valenciennes for good measure – it’s all about performing arts. Its focus is on edgy stuff, such as the Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Pursuit of Happiness, wherein Slovenian dancers act out a surreal western – a show the New York Times called “weird, gross, dumb and hilarious”. Until 1 December, across West Flanders, Hainaut & Hauts-de-France

Photos: Ahmad Joudeh/©Ewoud Broeksma, World Press Photo/©Ronaldo Schemidt/ Agence France Presse

Written by Lisa Bradshaw