Dancer/choreographer Thomas Hauert founded ZOO in 1998. Together with four friends from the Rotterdam Dance Academy and dance company Rosas (Mark Lorimer, Sara Ludi, Mat Voorter and Samantha van Wissen), he created ZOO’s debut production Cows in Space (1998). While ZOO in the first place presents itself as a collective, artistic director Thomas Hauert plays the central role. The majority of ZOO's creations are presented by the same cast. Dancers Martin Kilvady and Chrysa Parkinson joined the company in 2003. In 2007, the company welcomed a new dancer: Zoë Poluch. And for You've changed (2010), Thomas Hauert also worked with Fábian Barba, Liz Kinoshita, Albert Quesada, Gabriel Schenker and Theodossia Stathi. ZOO makes use of varying artists, but at the same time develops long-term collaborative relationships with a number of scenographers/lighting designers, musicians and stylists.
The starting point of ZOO’s oeuvre is an in-depth study into movement. Prompted by Thomas Hauert, the dancers disassociate themselves from their bodies’ usual forms of movement. In an atmosphere of playful curiosity, they explore the greatest possible diversity of forms, rhythms, qualities and mutual relationships with space and external forces. One of the main methods used by the group to explore the possibilities contained in the world of movement is improvisation. ZOO productions transcend the level of the individual dancer. They are group projects rooted in the collective 'organism' formed by the dancers. While exploration of the individual body results in an expression of diversity (chaos), the group work creates cohesion, communication and connection (order).
ZOO's recent work includes From B to B (2013), in which Thomas Hauert appears on stage together with Catalan choreographer Àngels Margarit, with as theme (the impossibility of) communication. Danse étoffée sur musique déguisée (2013) is ZOO’s first piece for a young audience (5+). It is a solo dance performance by Mat Voorter to John Cages’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano with live piano music. In the context of the ‘Brussels/Toronto project’, Thomas Hauert created Pond Skaters (2013) for Canadian dance company Toronto Dance Theatre.