Rule of Three and Ode to the Attempt


2019/10/24 – 26(Thu. – Sat. )7:30PM


National Theatre Institute Experimental Theater


Replacing Languages with Body Movements to Initiate the Trend of Thoughts

We hold the belief that a theater that is meaningful to the contemporary society should not only be a venue offering high-quality entertainment and that popular aesthetics should not be the only criteria for curating either. Instead, a theater should voice out with arts as a vehicle to question the existing values of human beings and the inertia thinking in the society in order to create the possibility for initiating intellectual enquiries and speculations.

Human bodies are the direct vehicles for us to respond to the sensual environment and social impacts. Our bodies perspire in the heat and get stiff under pressure. When the security need is threatened, bodies also become personal instruments to defend against dangers and powers. As an artist, how does a choreographer explore all sorts of social phenomena and collective predicaments through dancers’ bodies?

In the Dancing in Autumn 2019, with “bodies, the most intimate weapons against the world" as the theme, Each of the works is a candid and naked self-justification. Wars and violence, erotics and consumption, global warming, information anxiety... if you are fed up with the inefficient discussions of these issues, why not join us in the theater? Let the dialogue begin!

About Rule of Three and Ode to the Attempt

Rule of Three positions itself as a danced performance somewhere in between a concert and a short-story collection. It is a collection of short stories written with bodies, light, music, costumes and text. An untamed meditation which, just like these times, builds on contrasts: between stillness and explosion, precision and intuition, heart and reason. For Rule of Three, Jan Martens collaborates for the very first time with American producer and drummer NAH whose music blends live and programmed drums with found sounds and heavily manipulated samples. On stage, the performers engage in a dialogue with NAH’s eclectic musical composition and keep driving up the sensory stimulation.

Ode to the Attempt is Jan Martens’ own solo in which he stages an airy deconstruction of his creative process. Through a series of “attempts”, he invites the audience to take a look inside his head and inside his computer. For Jan Martens, Ode to the Attempt functions in the first instance as a sanctuary: a welcome place in which to experiment after the making of a series of solos (e.g. BIS), duets (e.g. Sweat Baby Sweat) and a group show (The Dog Days Are Over). The creative process resulted in a self-portrait in the form of a collage: a gem stripped of all its frills in which Martens, by means of different “attempts”, unleashes fragments of his creative process on the audience. Dancing, talking and writing, he touches on a range of themes such as authenticity, manipulation, perfectionism, humour and melancholy. Drawing on the history of dance and his own personal history, he blends work and private life organically in this solo for himself.

About Jan Martens

Jan Martens (b. 1984, Belgium) studied at the Fontys Dance Academy in Tilburg and graduated in 2006 from the dance department of the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp. Since 2010 he has been making his own choreographic work which, over the years, has been performed with increasing regularity before a national and international audience.

Jan Martens’ work is nurtured by the belief that each body can communicate, that each body has something to say. That direct communication expresses itself in transparent forms. His work is a sanctuary in which the notion of time becomes tangible again and in which there is room for observation and emotion as well as reflection. To achieve this result he creates not so much a movement language of his own, but shapes and reuses existing idioms in a different context so that new ideas emerge. In each new work he tries to redraw the relation between public and performer.

Jan Martens’ first show I Can Ride a Horse Whilst Juggling So Marry Me (2010) was a portrait of a generation of young women in a society dominated by social networks. It was followed by two love duets that he made at Frascati Amsterdam. A Small Guide on How to Treat Your Lifetime Companion (2011) was selected for Aerowaves 2011 and Sweat Baby Sweat (2011) for the Dutch Dance Festival 2012 and Circuit X 2013. He then created three shows about unconventional beauty, with performers whose bodies you do not expect in the context of contemporary dance: BIS (2012) for the 62-year-old Truus Bronkhorst, La Bete (2013) for the young actress Joke Emmers, and Victor (2013), a duet for a boy and a grown man that Jan created with director Peter Seynaeve.

In 2014 Jan Martens focused attention on the jump as movement in the group performance The Dog Days Are Over (2014). The show was selected for the Flanders Theatre Festival. Other projects include The Common People (2016), a performance, social experiment and workshop in one, created in collaboration with film director Lukas Dhont and today’s program Rule of Three and Ode to the Attempt. Rule of Three was nominated for a Zwaan (Swan) in the category “most impressive dance production 2018.” De Zwanen are seen as the most prestigious dance prize within the Dutch performing arts field.

In the 18/19 season, Jan Martens engaged in three new collaborations. Together with 13 youths (f/x) and fABULEUS, he created a theatrical production, Passing the Bechdel Test. He also revised the successful 2011 production A Small Guide on How to Treat Your Lifetime Companion with two new dancers under the title Pauline Thomas as commissioned by CDCN Le Gymnase in Roubaix. In January 2019 Jan himself took the stage again with the solo lostmovements, in which he plunges into the universe of choreographer and friend Marc Vanrunxt (Kunst/Werk). In 19/20, Jan’s focus lies on the premiere of BIG CREATION 2020 (working title). A group piece for seventeen dancers aged between 15 and 68, premiering April 23 at deSingel (Antwerp, BE).

Jan Martens makes regular guest performances, such as Man Made (2017) for the Dance On Ensemble. He also coaches young makers with their own creations.

Jan Martens has won the North Brabant Prize of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (2014) and the prestigious Charlotte Köhlerprijs (2015) for his oeuvre. He is “Creative Associate” at deSingel international arts campus from 2017 until 2021 and “Artiste Associé” at Le Gymnase CDCN Roubaix Hauts-de-France with support from the ministry of Culture and Communication (2016-2019).

NAH, Live Music Composition and Performer

NAH (USA, 1984) aka Michul Kuun is a producer / drummer / visual artist currently located in Philadelphia. Blending live and programmed drums with off-kilter sequenced elements, found sounds, and heavily manipulated samples, NAH produces anxiety-laden tracks and sound collages with firm roots planted in DIY punk, noise, avant- jazz, and the restlessness of hip-hop. His latest release is titled World.

Production Team

Rule of Three

Choreography: Jan Martens

Cast Premiere: Courtney May Robertson, Dan Mussett, Steven Michel

Cast Premier: Julien Josse, Courtney May Robertson, Steven Michel

Live Music Composition and Performer: NAH (aka Michul Kuun)

Dramaturge: Greet Van Poeck

Lighting Design: Jan Fedinger

Costume: Valérie Hellebaut

Rehearsal Director: Anne-Lise Brevers

Technical Supervision: Michel Spang

Production: GRIP

International Diffusion: A Propic / Line Rousseau & Marion Gauvent

Co-Production: deSingel international arts campus, Théâtre de la Ville –Paris with Festival d’Automne à Paris, Le Gymnase CDCN Roubaix - Hauts-de- France & tanzhaus nrw

Support: STUK Kunstencentrum & Grand Theatre

Financial Support: the Flemish Government and the city of Antwerp

Special Thanks: Marc Vanrunxt & Anne-Lise Brevers

Short Stories: Lydia Davis:

“Writing” and “The Dog Hair” from “Can’t & Won’t” by Lydia Davis. Copyright© 2014 by Lydia Davis.

“Suddenly Afraid” from “Varieties of Disturbance”. Copyright©2007 by Lydia Davis.


Choreography and Performer: Jan Martens

Production: GRIP

International Diffusion: A Propic / Line Rousseau & Marion Gauvent

Special Thanks: Jeroen Bosch, Kristin de Groot, Michel Spang, Joris van Oosterwijk & all Bproject Partners (co-funded by the European commission): Jheronimus Bosch 500 (NL), Comune di Bassano del Grappa (IT), Dance Umbrella London (UK), La Briqueterie/CDC du Val de Marne (FR), D.ID Dance Identity (AT), Festival Cement (NL) & Dansateliers Rotterdam (NL)

Organizer: National Theater and Concert Hall

Designated accommodation: Taipei Arden Hotel

◎Rule of Three 75 mins; Ode to the Attempt 30 mins, with 20 mins intermission between programs.

◎In order to ensure the quality of performance, latecomers and those who leave the auditorium early will not be readmitted.

◎This production contains nude scene and special effects, such as extremely loud sound and strobe-like lighting, audience discretion is advised.

◎Post-show talk: 10/27 (Sun) matinee at the Experiment Theater.

◎The program is subject to change

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