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What’s on this week: 6-12 March

15:06 05/03/2020
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

‘Hands Up, Hands Off’ is the theme for this year’s La Belle Hip Hop, a celebration of women in urban music. As the theme suggests, it’s also a condemnation of violence against women, supported by the #Realize campaign, and kicks off on International Women’s Day with a concerts of international female rap and hip-hop artists. The rest of the festival features concerts, debates, visual arts and a woman-only dance battles. Artists are travelling in from all over the world, so languages vary. 8-13 March, across Brussels

There are also many other events taking place on and around International Women’s Day, which is on 8 March. Kaaitheater presents WoWmen, an English-language programme of performances, talks, films and workshops that critically analyse the state of gender, art and society. Match Belgium is holding a big event for queer women that sees spaces devoted to sport, art, performance and business. Estrada Magazine will screen the classic feminist Czech film Daisies with English subtitles, and Le Senghor offers a day dedicated to exhibitions, authors, workshops, debates and talks by inspiring women (in French). There is also a National March as well as a march for women of colour. Until 8 March, across Brussels

Klara Festival

One of the highlights of Brussels’ cultural calendar, the Klara Festival’s theme this year is the intriguing-sounding ‘Glitter and Doom’. The festival dedicated to classical and contemporary music – in a very broad sense – is asking itself why disaster and tragedy are so captivating. One might think of the current societal obsession with the coronavirus as an example if one was so inclined. Klara will consider this ‘spectacle society’ in the sense of the public’s love for the ‘passions’, which are a tribute to Christ’s suffering and death, and the highs and lows of lives such as Beethoven and Mahler. 12-29 March, across Brussels, Antwerp and Bruges

Works by Brussels illustrator Kikie Crêvecoeur are on show at the Wittockiana bookbinding museum. Known for her highly detailed black-and-white drawings, she is as popular a visual artist as she is a book illustrator. Entre les pages focuses on her illustrations for all kinds of books – which are often much more interesting for their graphics than for their words. The artist will be present at the opening on Saturday. 7 March to 10 May Rue du Bemel 23 (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre)

Mappa Mundi

While we all now rely on GPS systems to get us where we’re going, just a short time ago the only option was maps on paper. They might have been less efficient, but they did allow us to find our own way and occasionally make fantastic discoveries simply by getting lost. Imagine what it must have been like, then, for map-makers of yore who had nothing and no one to guide their paths. They often produced intricately illustrated maps that were as much about what they wanted to convey to the viewer as about in which direction to travel. The exhibition Mappa Mundi at Villa Empain looks at contemporary translations of these priceless old cartographies. Until 22 August, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67 (Ixelles)

The prolific British writer Iain Sinclair, who is a novelist, poet and essayist – and sometimes all in one work – is Passa Porta’s resident artist this month. Known for his forays into psychogeography – the influence urban environments have on residents as well as pedestrian ‘drifting’ outside of these norms – he’s working on a book set in Brussels. Hear all about it from the author in words, images and film fragments. 12 March 20.00, Passa Porta, Rue Antoine Dansaert 46

Festival Lezarts Danses Urbaines

Hip-hop, house, krump, breakdance, wacking, locking and popping. Don’t know your wack from your krump? Check out the Festival Lezarts Danses Urbaines to see some of the most extraordinary dancers in the urban scene. There are also DJ sets, battles and conferences on women in the genre. Warning: After seeing a show, you’ll get it into your head to take dance lessons. 7-8 March, KVS, Quai aux Pierres de Taille

Do you like manga, anime, video games or cosplay? Then you will like Made in Asia, which brings it all together in one big convention. Discover new manga series, play some Japanese video games, try your hand at an escape room or enter the Dragon Ball tournament. And that’s just the beginning. 13-15 March, Brussels Expo, Place de Belgique 1

Maggie Smith in Hot Millions

The ever enduring – and endearing – British actor Maggie Smith has been in an astonishing 60 films, and that doesn’t even include her unforgettable turns in television series such as Downton Abbey and David Copperfield. The range of her choice of roles – from period pieces to Ya Ya Sisterhoods and the Harry Potter franchise – have kept her in the limelight across generations. Cinematek hosts a retrospective of her films, offering the chance to see her early work. Up this week: The Pumpkin Eater, where she poses a threat to a troubled marriage, and the caper film Hot Millions, where she cleans up her husband’s mess – and how. Until 17 May, Rue Baron Horta 9

Book now: Singing Brussels  Ever fantasize about singing on stage, but you can’t … well … sing? Paul Smith of the British ensemble Voces8 disagrees, leading a series of workshops in which everyone can learn to carry a tune. The four sessions at Bozar not only teach you to sing, they get you onstage with all participants taking part in the Singing Brussels celebration in June. This wonderful experience is open to anyone above the age of five and costs only €10. A separate series of workshops are available to those who can read music. Spaces are limited, so sign up now. 21 March to 17 May, Rue Ravenstein 23

Plis

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

Look at pleats in a whole new light at Plis: Art & Textile, where folds, bends and creases are centre stage. While humans’ need to fold and ply in the arts in general is examined, Plis is mostly concerned with textiles. Sometimes these concepts come together beautifully, such as the ruffled collar, long associated with art portraiture. Until 24 May, Tamat, 9 Place Reine-Astrid, Tournai

Photos, from top: La Furia courtesy La Belle Hip Hop; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra ©Benjamin Ealovega; ©Malala Andrialavidrazana & Dilecta; Courtesy KVS; Courtesy IMDB; Courtesy Tamat

Written by Lisa Bradshaw