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What’s on this week: 25-31 January

12:06 24/01/2019
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

Can we ever be truly free if we are completely safe? It’s an existential question but also a very practical one as politicians, police, the travel sector and various other industries struggle to balance security with movement. Safety and freedom are the topics of this year’s The Big Conversation, where anyone who wants can sit around a table with a variety of opinionmakers, like Germany’s Dietmar Kammerer, who lectures on media and surveillance, and Belgian journalist Yasmien Naciri, who will lead a discussion on hate speech and verbal harassment. Many of these interactive talks are in English, and free tickets are available. 26 January 17.00, Beursschouwburg, Rue Auguste Orts 20

Sex and death are at the heart of most great tragedies, and La Gioconda is no different. Amilcare Ponchielli’s 1876 opera is based on Victor Hugo’s Angelo, Tyrant of Padua, the story of Venetian singer Gioconda, who risks all for unrequited love. (In Italian, surtitles in French and Dutch), 29 January to 12 February, La Monnaie, 23 Rue Léopold

From the well-known Grenzing organ in the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral to some smaller specimens hidden away in venues across Brussels, the This is Not a Pipe … Organ Festival illustrates the surprising varied sounds these majestic instruments are capable of making. 1-4 February, across Brussels

Contemplation / Reflection, 1911 Rik Wouters

One of Europe’s leading arts and antique fairs takes place in Brussels this week, with selections from antiquity to the 21st century. Brafa is great for browsing but even better if you’re in the market for a bit of home décor with a history. There’s also an exhibition by the Royal Chamber of Art Dealers that includes two works by Magritte from private collections and art talks in English, French and Dutch. While you can pick up pieces that cost a few hundred euros, you’ll be in the presence of gemstones, medieval sculpture and ancient tapestries that cost millions. 26 January to 3 February, Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86

While Belgium’s pupils have been taking to the streets every Thursday, everyone is invited to the next big Rise for Climate march. The first march early last month saw more than 65,000 people take to the streets of Brussels. How about we top that number this Sunday? 27 January, start 14.00, North Station

The La Cetra d’Orfeo, specialised in European music from the 14th to the 18th centuries, has made a name for itself by making its performances incredibly accessible – using dance, song, live drawings, puppets and a juggler or two. It celebrates its 25th anniversary with FestiVita, a festival spanning four weekends and a wonderful way to get to know this lively and engaging group of musicians. First weekend: 25-27 January, across Brussels

If you’re still missing Bowie hard, don’t miss the David Bowie Alumni Tour, featuring a group of his most loyal collaborators, including guitarist Earl Slick, singer Bernard Fowler and Mike Garson, one of rock & roll’s most loved pianists and lifelong Bowie constant. An evening of numbers both big and small, interpreted by close friends. 30 January 20.00, Ancienne Belgique, Boulevard Anspach 110

Le Space in Brussels

The very cool Le Space, a café and performance space that encompasses a wealth of social justice values between its walls and in its work, is hosting a monthly themed open mic. By Any Beats Necessary celebrates Black History Month by opening the stage to black people or collectives who want to tell their own history, experience or narrative any way they see fit. Sign up by 28 January if you want to take the stage yourself. 1 February 19.30-23.00, Le Space, Rue de la Clé 26

Our prejudices can sometimes get the better of us, or of the people with whom we interact. That’s the premise of Balance Tes Préjugés (Get Rid of Your Prejudice), a festival of theatre, cinema and debates looking at the complications of an increasingly multi-cultural society. 31 January to 9 February, La Vénerie, Rue Gratès 3 and Place Gilson 3 (Watermael-Boitsfort)

LOOKING AHEAD: Kanal Sunday Brunch This weekly feast at Kanal is proving to be quite popular. This week’s is sold out, but you can still get tickets for 3 February. Along with eggs, sausage, pancakes, etc, there is a kids’ corner and live music. 3 February 11.00-14.30, Kanal Centre Pompidou, Quai des Péniches

I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

Following the Paris terrorist attacks of 2015, the Royal Opera of Liège decided to team up with Brussels’ Théâtre National to produce the ‘song play’ I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky. The musical/opera hybrid by American composer John Adams and poet June Jordan tells the stories of seven people whose lives are forever altered by the earthquake that hit Los Angeles in 1994. It was inspired by one survivor’s testimony and is being performed in the original English. 3 February, Royal Opera of Liège, Rue des Dominicains 1, Liège

Witness some truly gravity-defying acrobatics at Vertikal, the latest work by the brilliant French choreographer Mourad Merzouki, whose training in both circus and martial arts informs his awe-inspiring shows. This is dance like you’ve never seen it, both on the ground and in the air. 29 January to 1 February, Aula Magna, Place Raymond Lemaire, Louvain-la-Neuve

Photos: The Big Conversation courtesy Beursschouwburg, Brafa courtesy event, Le Space courtesy venue, I Was Looking at the Ceiling/©Hubert Amiel

Written by Lisa Bradshaw