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Curators’ Statement

We are particularly pleased to open the 56th Bitef with the Belgian dance performance that achieved a tremendous success at last year’s Avignon festival, any attempt will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones, by the choreographer Jan Martens. The long and unusual title itself suggests the layered concept: the dramaturgy comes down to the gradation, combining and development of a series of attempts to realize one choreographic idea. The attempts are based on basic Marten’s thought, but also on a repetitive and “psychedelic” composition of a Polish composer of contemporary classical music, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, and the material supplied by the dancers, seventeen of them, of various age (18 to 71), of various personal and professional background (a form of devised theatre). Brought together, it all creates a mosaic of an intelligent, warm, and utterly witty essay on contemporary dance, which links and permeates various issues and attitudes: dance as physical labor, the relevance of the dancers’ identities (their age, appearance, education…), the debunking of hierarchy in the creative process, the relationship between the body and the social order.

About the Production

With any attempt will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones, Jan Martens is for the first time fully turning his attention to the main stage. A production about the power that lies in being out of step, performed by a seventeen-strong, atypical corps de ballet made up of unique personalities.
The dancers seek their own voice within the dance and beyond, looking for an idiom that fits them like a glove. One by one they claim their place on stage, without cutting off the others for all that. A horizontal exercise in giving each other the necessary space, while being careful not to steal the limelight.
It is a rich performance that does not hesitate to seek out the ecstatic. In times of extreme polarization, this group sets social dogmas aside to recognize and embrace a range of distinct identities. Being uninhibitedly themselves - in both life and art - with the stage as their ideological testing ground. They are supported by a soundtrack that consists of atypical protest songs from different ages - from Henryk Gorecki via Max Roach & Abbey Lincoln to Kae Tempest.

The Author

JAN MARTENS (*1984, Belgium) studied at the Fontys Dansacademie in Tilburg and completed the Dance programme at Artesis Royal Conservatory in Antwerp in 2006. The work of Martens is nurtured by the belief that each body can communicate, and has actually something to say. With every new work he tries to redraw the relation between public and performer. His debut I CAN RIDE A HORSE WHILST JUGGLING SO MARRY ME in 2010 was quickly followed by multiple solos, duets and group pieces, a.o. THE DOG DAYS ARE OVER (2014 - selection Het TheaterFestival), ODE TO THE ATTEMPT (2014), THE COMMON PEOPLE (2016) and RULE OF THREE (2017). In the 18/19 season, Jan created PASSING THE BECHDEL TEST (2018), a coproduction with fABULEUS as well as the solo lostmovements, in which he plunges into the universe of choreographer and friend Marc Vanrunxt (Kunst/Werk). In 2020, Jan directs his attention for the first time to the big stage with any attempt will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones, a production with and for seventeen dancers. Premiere on July 18, 2021 at Festival d’Avignon. In the same week, on July 12, 2021 ELISABETH GETS HER WAY premiered, a solo by and with Martens inspired by the Polish harpsichordist Elisabeth Chojnacka. Martens is currently working towards the premiere of FUTUR PROCHE - a collaboration with Opera Ballet Vlaanderen - on July 19 2022 at the prestigious Cour d’honneur of Festival d’Avignon. Martens will combine his role as co-artistic director with GRIP with that of associate choreographer with Opera Ballet Vlaanderen in the coming seasons.

Martens is associated artist at DE SINGEL (Antwerp, BE). The choreographic platform GRIP - founded by Jan Martens & business manager Klaartje Oerlemans - is supported by the Flemish Government.

From the Reviews

You have to take the title of the piece with a pinch of salt. "Any attempt (at insurrection) will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones," said Chinese President Xi Jinping against protesters in Hong Kong. Martens shows what power there is when you do rebel, both in group and individually. The energy bursts from the stage, in an assertive choreography with lots of clenched fists.

Filip Tielens, De Standaard


Marching is also one way of protesting, of demonstrations, and the choreographer from Antwerp explores the dynamics of resistance as well as the obstacles it comes across. Unexpected appearance, spontaneity, organization, it all gets together in this work where vigour and stability, expansion and restraint get together in a luxuriously reduced manner. It sets in motion the necessary articulation of opposing tendencies in the set of rules which manages to remain perfectly clear, in no way denying its boldness, not even its aspiration to go all the way.

The energy it generates does not lie. A grand work.

Marie Baudet, La Libre Belgique


And at the core of work? Human being getting is completely wasted in an increasingly defragmenting society. The speed in which any attempt will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones ends, provokes anger. Fire, blood, life, death, dance is, above anything, an uprising.

Rosita Boisseau, Le Monde