Critical acclaim from the press

  • “The elegance and subtlety of José Navas’ proposition operate in its profundity and in the multiple layers of his choreographic writing, revealing through its architectural work all the beauty of Winter’s Journey. A journey of a muted beauty.” Le Devoir, 2020
  • “José Navas dances because one day he will no longer be able to dance, just as we all live because one day we will no longer be able to live. So one must seize the opportunity – and share it. There is in this piece an immense gift of the self, an offering, much humility as well as much strength, a great acceptance as well as an elegant resistance. Serious, profound, yet the piece doesn’t make us sad, but rather soothed, indeed enlivened.”, 2020
  • “A poignant piece, suffused with humanity and pure emotion, in which the maturity and refinement of José Navas, an exceptional dancer, shine forth and touch the heart.”, 2020
  • “The live music, interpreted with great sensitivity […]. The effect of the whole was extremely moving.”, 2020

A few words about the show

A contemporary dance and live music version of the song cycle Winterreise by Franz Schubert

Eager to relive the joy of dancing with live orchestra for his Rite of Spring and to deepen the dialogue with Schubert’s Winterreise that he began in Rites, José Navas is working on a creation based on that 24-part song cycle of Schubert. This piece, choreographed and performed by José Navas, will be presented in an adaptation for piano, voice and dance.

To see a solo performance by José Navas is to experience just how far dance can go to stir your spirit and soothe your soul. For his new creation, he was captivated by the desire to translate Schubert’s beloved song cycle into movement. Winterreise (Winter Journey), the composer’s final work before his death in 1829, is infused with operatic themes of tragedy that beautifully serve Navas’s own creative process as a maturing artist. This evocative performance beautifully intertwines the solo dancer with live piano and voice.

Words from José Navas

Winterrreise (Winter Journey) is a cycle of 24 songs for voice and piano, composed by Franz Schubert towards the end of his short life. It traces a wanderer’s nonlinear journey and I have been journeying with it for nearly a decade. From the first time I listened to it – sung by Thomas Quasthoff – my body reacted and tears sprung to my eyes. In 2011, I choreographed the cycle’s last song, “Der Leiermann” (“The Hurdy-Gurdy Man”), as part of my solo show Personæ. From that moment, I fell in love with the piece and the challenge of choreographing it as a solo. During my work, I drew substantial guidance from Ian Bostridge’s masterful book Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession.

My Winterreise includes key elements that are continuous with my prior solo shows. One is the dancer waiting on stage, meditating, while the audience enters the hall. Another is the empty space with nothing but the costumes and a chair. A third is the covering of the dancer’s head, at moments of transformation or of observing the body in motion, unconstrained by personal identity.

Winterreise parallels the nature of the mind, which wanders constantly, consumed with its lacks and fears. It is through understanding his suffering that the wanderer finds solace, just as the mind finds solace when one learns to observe it with equanimity. The wanderer passes through stages of solitude, alienation, and enlightenment. Walking to a realization of his own mortality, the wanderer presents a perfect canvas for my dance. My journey as a dancer increasingly leads me to confront the presence of physical pain in my everyday life. I experience physical suffering and transform it into movement. In dancing Winterreise, I transform the calm behind the pain into poetry and inspiration for others.



  • Choreographer and dancer: José Navas
  • Music: Winterreise by Franz Schubert, lyrics by Wilhelm Müller
  • Musicians: Francis Perron (piano), Jacques-Olivier Chartier (tenor)
  • Lighting design: Marc Parent
  • Costumes: José Navas
  • Fabrication: Sonya Bayer, L’Atelier de couture Sonya B. & Nathan Kong
  • Length: ± 1h15
  • Production: Compagnie Flak
  • Photos: Damian Siqueiros, Nina Konjini, Svetla Atanasova


2019-2020 season

  • De Werf, Aalst, Belgium: January 17, 2020
  • CultuurCentrum Sint-Niklass, Belgium: January 24, 2020
  • CultuurCentrum Ieper, Het Perron, Belgium: January 26, 2020
  • Danse Danse, Cinquième salle, Montreal, QC: February 11–15 & 18–22, 2020
  • Théâtre du Vieux-Terrebonne, Terrebonne, QC: February 29, 2020
  • Théâtre des Deux Rives, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC: March 8, 2020
  • Centre Culturel de l’Université de Sherbrooke, QC: March 24, 2020 [CANCELLED due to COVID-19]
  • Theater im Pumpenhaus, Münster (Germany): April 8, 2020 [CANCELLED due to COVID-19]
  • Jazzahead! Festival, Bremen (Germany): April 10, 2020 [CANCELLED due to COVID-19]
  • National Arts Centre, Ottawa, ON: April 30, May 1 and 2, 2020 [CANCELLED due to COVID-19]