Cherish Menzo wins the BNG BANK Theatre Prize 2023

It was a rewarding spring for Cherish Menzo and the team around D̶A̶R̶K̶MATTER. The production was selected for both the Dutch Theatre Festival and its Flemish counterpart. It was also nominated for several awards: the VSCD Mime/Performance award, The BNG Bank Theaterprijs, the flemish Actors’ Guild Performance award, and the VSCD Swan award as one of the most impressive dance performances of 2023. Yesterday, one of those nominations was won:

During the Dutch Theatre Festival, the BNG Bank Theaterprijs 2023 worth 45,000 euros was awarded to Cherish Menzo. The BNG Culture Fund created the prize to encourage young theatre talent up to the age of 35.

The jury: “In the performance D̶A̶R̶K̶MATTER, Cherish Menzo identifies darkness as a driving force for healing and transformation. Two characters explore the sci-fi-like darkness presented on stage. In the exploration, moments of strong visual theatre alternate with total darkness. Hoodies, patent boots with platform soles, black paint and gold grills seem to be introduced as the space suits that brought them here. But they have arrived safely, so the protection can be taken off. The chopped-&-screwed beats turn pessimistic rap lyrics, which seem to come from another reality, into a hypnotic mantra. These tools are used by amazing movers Cherish Menzo and Camilo Mejía Cortés to take the audience into their dark fairytale world.

Photo: Nichon Glerum

The new season is just around the corner!

Cherish Menzo is starting the new season! On 28 & 29 August she will perform with DARKMATTER at La Bâtie in Geneva and 1 & 2 September she’ll perform JEZEBEL at the Theatre Festival in Basel.

Jan Martens follows and on 3 September he dances ELISABETH GETS HER WAY at Nederlands Theater Festival in Amsterdam. He will then perform at Het TheaterFestival in Ghent with no less than two performances: on 8 & 9 September in NTGent with any attempt will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones, followed by ELISABETH GETS HER WAY at Kunstencentrum VIERNULVIER!

P.A.R.T.S SummerSchool x GRIP

This summer, P.A.R.T.S. opens its doors to dancers, from beginners to professionals. A meeting between teachers, choreographers and dancers, exchanging knowledge and experience over the course of five weeks. GRIP artists Steven Michel and Femke Gyselinck will both give a creative workshop during the Summerschool. Last week it was Steven’s turn, in the fifth and final week it is up to Femke.


>FUTUR PROCHE< by Jan Martens & Opera Ballet Vlaanderen (in collaboration with GRIP) has its premiere tonight at Festival d’Avignon, on the majestic Cour d’honneur du Palais des Papes. Can’t make it to Avignon? >FUTUR PROCHE< also travels to Antwerp, Ghent, Amsterdam, The Hague, St. Pölten, Turnhout, Paris and Bruges.

#verbeeldingwerkt (imagination works)

We, artists and culture workers, create a vibrant offer that is praised abroad for its creativity and inventiveness. This is how we give substance to the Flemish slogan ‘Verbeelding werkt’ (imagination works). We live up to that slogan.

This wealth is now at risk of being lost: a deterioration of the landscape is looming around the corner if the government does not intervene today. Without an extra effort, a lot is in danger of being lost; in the current scenario, 1/4 of the existing arts organisations would disappear and long-term investments would be undone.

Together with our audience, we ask the Flemish government to take its share of the responsibility. We ask them to translate the Flemish government’s slogan ‘Verbeelding werkt / Imagination works’ into action. We ask for workable budgets and sustainable investments. Raise the budgets for the arts. From 0.27% to 0.35% of the Flemish total budget.

Because imagination works, indeed. And we, in turn, work hard for it. Every day, with heart and soul. And we want to keep doing so.

Sign via

2x Jan Martens at Het TheaterFestival

The jury of Het TheaterFestival included no less than two performances by Jan Martens in its selection: both ‘any attempt…’ and ELISABETH GETS HER WAY can be seen in Ghent in September as part of the festival. ‘any attempt…’ will be performed on September 8 and 9 at NTGent Schouwburg; for ELISABETH GETS HER WAY, you have to be at Kunstencentrum VIERNULVIER (in De Vooruit) on September 10 or 11.

From the jury report:
– ‘any attempt…’: ‘With a strong hand, Martens leads the way without stripping away the expression of others. Any Attempt is a cleverly conceived performance that is never strict, hermetic, or cerebral. On the contrary, it is admirably warm and creates a generous connection between the audience and the community on stage. Exactly what we were longing for after all those months of no contact.’

– ELISABETH GETS HER WAY: ‘Martens’ choice for a direct translation between dance and music – with rhythm, emotion, and intensity as a shared factor – makes the performance extraordinarily open and accessible.[…] Elisabeth gets her way is an exceptional artistic essay, a tribute from one great artist to another.’

Cherish Menzo wins the Charlotte Köhler Prize

Last Thursday, Cherish Menzo received the Charlotte Köhler Prize from the Prince Bernhard Cultural Fund. The Charlotte Köhler Prize is an incentive prize for young talent (up to 35 years of age) in the visual arts and theatre. The awards – each worth €20,000 – result from a legacy from the actress Charlotte Köhler (1892-1977). Since 1988, the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund has awarded these prizes yearly. Many congratulations as well to Salim Bayri, who received the award in the visual arts category.

premiere D̶A̶R̶K̶MATTER

World premiere of D̶A̶R̶K̶MATTER by Cherish Menzo, a duet with Camilo Mejía Cortés and herself on stage. May 12-15 at Beursschouwburg, in the frame of Kunstenfestivaldesarts. Dutch premiere at Frascati later this month (May 25-28). And then on tour.

Jan Martens & Opera Ballet Vlaanderen at the Cour d’honneur (Festival d’Avignon)

Jan Martens will combine his role as co-artistic director with GRIP with that of associate choreographer with Opera Ballet Vlaanderen in the coming seasons. In FUTUR PROCHE, together with fifteen dancers from OBV, two children, and harpsichordist Goska Isphording, he builds a performance about the imminent future. After two previous successful productions, Martens again finds inspiration in a surprising, contemporary repertoire for the centuries-old harpsichord. Armed with this symbol of human reinvention, he searches for alternatives to omnipresent, dark images of the future. The performance has its world premiere on July 19 at the Cour d’honneur of the prestigious Festival d’Avignon, and can also be seen there on July 20, 21, 23, and 24.

GRIP 2.0 – towards shared leadership

In 2023 GRIP, founded in 2014 by choreographer Jan Martens and business manager Klaartje Oerlemans, will evolve into an organisation with shared artistic leadership. In addition to Martens himself, current GRIP artists Cherish Menzo and Steven Michel will give shape to GRIP 2.0, together with newcomer Femke Gyselinck. They will do this in close dialogue with Klaartje Oerlemans and Rudi Meulemans, who will coordinate and facilitate the dialogue between the four makers in his role of artistic coordinator.

The four choreographers will realize their artistic projects within the umbrella structure and act as sparring partners for each other. In addition, they will share their expertise, artistic practice(s) and network with each other and with the broader field. Next to the artistic work they will develop, they also subscribe to the same ethical values and have the joint ambition to carry an organisation, in close collaboration with the business manager and artistic coordinator. All this is coupled with a big sense of commitment to the sector within which they work, with an emphasis on knowledge sharing and with some concrete initiatives in the pipeline (including annual DanceSeminars icw venues and educational institutions – more on that soon).

In 2021-2022 there were already some shifts within the structure with a.o. Bára Sigfúsdóttir and Michele Rizzo leaving the nest in ‘21. Bára moved to Oslo after a successful transfer trajectory and continues her artistic practice from there. She broods on new projects while maintaining strong ties with Belgium and its neighboring countries. Michele’s focus shifted invreasingly to (performative) work in the museum space and movement design within a.o. film and fashion. After a valuable collaboration, he is now continuing his professional activities outside of GRIP.

In 2021 also, talks started with Femke Gyselinck. Together with the three current GRIP artists, the business manager and the artistic coordinator, she drew up the new plans for the policy period ’23-27 (and therefore also for GRIP 2.0). 2022 is a transitional year for GRIP in which the first steps towards the updated structure are taken. Femke’s work will already partially be supported by GRIP in 2022 (e.g. in terms of distribution). In 2023, she officially joins the ranks as GRIP artist and co-artistic leader.