Jan Martens

Jan Martens © Luis Rios-Zertuche


Jan Martens (b. 1984, Belgium) studied at the Fontys Dance Academy in Tilburg and graduated in 2006 from the dance department of the Artesis 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’s 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) – selected for Aerowaves 2011 – and SWEAT BABY SWEAT (2011) – selected 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 together with director Peter Seynaeve.

In 2014 Jan focused his attention on jumping as movement in the group performance THE DOG DAYS ARE OVER (2014). The show was selected for the Flanders’ Theaterfestival. Shortly after, he made a solo called ODE TO THE ATTEMPT (2014) and the project THE COMMON PEOPLE (2016), a performance, social experiment and workshop in one, created in collaboration with film director Lukas Dhont. Jan’s RULE OF THREE, a collaboration with the American sound artist NAH, had its premiere at deSingel in Antwerp on 28 September 2017.

In the 2018-19 season, Jan Martens engaged in three collaborations. Together with 13 youths and fABULEUS, he made PASSING THE BECHDEL TEST, a theatrical production in which the voices of the youths are interwoven with the voices of famous and less famous women from the present and the past. 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 made his “comeback” on stage with the solo lostmovements, in which he plunges into the universe of choreographer and friend Marc Vanrunxt (Kunst/Werk).

In 2020, Jan for the first time fully directs his attention to the big stage. BIG CREATION 2020 (working title) is a production with and for seventeen dancers of different ages on the (non)sense of progress, and standing still as an act of rebellion.

Jan also regularly engages in making guest choreographies, such as MAN MADE (2017) for the Dance On Ensemble. He also coaches young makers with their own creations. He 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). GRIP – founded by Jan Martens & business manager Klaartje Oerlemans – is supported by the Flemish Government.

In 2014 Jan Martens founded, together with business manager Klaartje Oerlemans, the choreographic platform GRIP in Antwerp / Rotterdam, from where they jointly produce and distribute his work as well as support the work of Bára Sigfúsdóttir, Steven Michel and Michele Rizzo.

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