MYRIAM VAN IMSCHOOT
KRITISCH THEATER LEXICON
VLAAMS THEATER INSTITUUT
the critical theatre lexicon is a series of portraits of
major dramatic artists of the twentieth century. these
portraits are commissioned by the flemish theatre
institute and the four universities: u.i.antwerp,
university of ghent, k.u.leuven & v.u.brussels. this
publication forms part of an all-embracing historical
project on the performing arts in flanders in the
twentieth century. the editorial board comprises theatre
academics from the four universities and people from the
theatre world. publication started in september 1996.
‘Once more, it is a history of a body and what that body has produced.’
Louis-Jean Calvet in Roland Barthes
The first version of this portrait of Marc Vanrunxt was published
in Dutch in 1997. For the new publication in English it has been
reworked to suit a broader and more international readership
which may not be familiar with the work of this choreographer
who, together with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, was one of the
first pioneers of Belgian contemporary dance.
It is by no means an easy task to do full justice, in the space
provided, to such a full and varied body of work as that of Marc
Vanrunxt. Even simply in terms of numbers his list of productions
is impressive: since his official debut in 1983 Vanrunxt has
produced 16 full-length choreographies and as many shorter
pieces. These include group choreographies, solos (for himself
and for others), fashion danceshows, performances and site-specific
projects. In the meantime Vanrunxt danced in the work of
other choreographers, including Thierry Smits and Jan Fabre.
And recently he was at work as a guest curator for the third newstyle
Beweeging Festival 1 . All this is listed in the chronology.
The monograph itself does not concentrate so much on a
chronological survey, but attempts, on the basis of several choreographic
works, to reveal the artistic threads running throughout
Vanrunxt’s work. With changing accents and in varying combinations,
the influences of performance art, early-modern dance,
symbolism, modernism, low culture and kitsch can all be found
at work. It is one of Vanrunxt’s merits that he is capable of reconciling
these sometimes contradictory aesthetic currents without
levelling or neutralising them.
Although it will soon become clear that Vanrunxt occupies a
place of his own in the Belgian contemporary dance world, his
work is equally a gateway to an aesthetics of dance that arose in
the eighties and still continues to have an influence today. Its
most conspicuous features are the importance of repetition, the
stretching of time in ‘endurance’, the penchant for extremity,
heightening and intensification. The fact that some productions
from the previous decade are considered at greater length than
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those of the nineties has to do with the growing fascination for a
recent past which is now sufficiently distant to reconsider the
myths that have built up around it.
One of the myths is that contemporary dance is more or less an
area of potential, possibilities and freedom, where ‘anything
goes’. However, the problems with the reception of Marc
Vanrunxt’s work show that instead of the supposed ‘anomie’, a
strong, implicit system of rules, of what is ‘done’ and ‘not done’
was at work from the very beginning. Certainly in the early
eighties, for lack of a dance tradition and broader frames of reference,
a struggle raged round the first symbolic figures, such as
De Keersmaeker and Vanrunxt, on which basis the profile and
boundaries of the new genre were fought over.
Finally, let it be clear that in spite of the title, this portrait is by
no means a portrait of Marc Vanrunxt. It is not the man that will
make his appearance here, but his persona. Not his individual
choreographic works, but his oeuvre, that composed story of
analogies and connections. In the same way as Louis-Jean Calvet
initially called his biography of Roland Barthes ‘the history of a
body’, ‘and most especially, what that body has produced’, this
portrait is the story of Marc Vanrunxt’s body and the body of
work that has emerged from it, the link between them sometimes
being as strong as it is frictional. Right from the start, Vanrunxt’s
actual, singular corporeality has formed the foundation for an
imaginary body that dances along in all his work. So let us first
look at this body.
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THE BODY: BETWEEN
LOCOMOTION AND METHOD
Together with the ex-Forsythe dancer Stephen Galloway, Marc
Vanrunxt must be the tallest dancer in the Western hemisphere.
Tall as a tree, straight as a die, with long arms and a swan-like
neck that makes him appear even taller than his stature. But in
contrast to Galloway’s body, which has been moulded by ballet,
and is therefore somewhat standardised, Vanrunxt’s remains in a
certain sense a-typical, unable to fit into the canon of well-oiled,
supple bodies that dance implicitly or explicitly prescribes. ‘I’m
loose in the shoulders, whereas my pelvis is rather constrained. It
is partly this that determines my movements. In most dancers it
is exactly the opposite. They also have a different locomotory
scale of dynamics.’ 2
Vanrunxt dances accordingly: tall, spinal, stretched, with a pair
of firmly planted feet and heavy pelvis forming a solid base, his
movements are only fully free from the midriff up. It is mostly
the arms that take the lead. They wave, swish, flail, sweep,
stretch and come to a standstill in a gesture. All this takes place
in accordance with the architectural principles of a neo-gothic
cathedral: high spires on solid foundations.
His cerebral costumes enhance this physical constitution even
more. Long gloves elongate the body; voluminous long skirts, in
which both men and women perform, are the plinths on which the
upper body dances. It becomes even more striking when Vanrunxt
constricts the body with bandages, paper or fabric and only leaves
the arms free. This is an extreme manifestation of the physical
paradox of Marc Vanrunxt: partly stiff and static, partly agile.
But the body is not only an inherited biological mass, an unchangeable
genetic product. The body not only gives form (in a dance language),
it is itself formed (by training). Marc Vanrunxt (b. 1960)
was fifteen when he came into contact with dance. A girlfriend
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cajoled him into accompanying her to a lesson at the dance school
run by the Antwerp choreographer and dance teacher An
Slootmaekers. Having trained as a gym teacher, Slootmaekers
ended up dancing by way of kinesiology and eurhythmics, and was
inseparably linked to the culture of city festivities in Antwerp in the
fifties, sixties and seventies, during which period she created dances
for special occasions. Vanrunxt gained his first stage experience in
the choreographic works she did for the An Slootmaekers dance
group, which developed out of her school.
It is hard to overestimate the importance of An Slootmaekers as
a mentor. To Vanrunxt, who, as he himself says, grew up in a noncultural
environment, it opened up a world of literature, music
and art. While not an advanced schooling, it’s true, the school
offered a broad range of techniques, from classical ballet through
modern dance to Indonesian dance. In his work, Vanrunxt
extends the eclecticism of movement Slootmaekers incorporated
into her course, to form an aesthetic attitude open to highly varied
influences from dance to film, music and fashion.
At least as influential was the fact that Slootmaekers was a
vital link with early modern dance. She was taught by the
Flemish dance pioneer Lea Daan, who had studied under Rudolf
von Laban, Kurt Jooss and Albrecht Knust. Via Daan she moved
on to Kurt Jooss at the Folkwangschule and the modern German
choreographer Rosalia Chladek. This educational genealogy was
picked up by Marc Vanrunxt, who rooted himself in the same
bedding. He, in his turn, sought contact with Lea Daan, took a
course under Rosalia Chladek and showed a clear affinity to the
heirs of German modern dance in that country, such as Reinhild
Hoffman and Gerhard Bohner. In this way Vanrunxt became one
of the last direct Belgian heirs to this heritage. 3 In theoretical
terms, the teachings of the German dance theorist Laban on
movement and space had a great influence, both directly and
indirectly. Laban starts out from the dancer’s own physical presence
and tries to create a link between the kinetic sphere that
enwraps the dancer (the icosahedron or, in a simplified form, the
cube) and the outer space surrounding him. It is precisely this
approach that enabled Vanrunxt to incorporate his own body
with its specific locomotion and make it into a pivotal point of
his dance (in many of Vanrunxt’s dances one has the impression
he is inside a cocoon or elastic bubble whose external contours
he touches with his probing fingertips).
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the body: between locomotion and method
However, the tensions between the specificity of his body and
the dance surrounding him, between the so-called ‘own’ and
‘borrowed’, and between (loco)motion and method have
remained highly active throughout Vanrunxt’s career. If these
tensions are at work in more or less every dancer who needs to
fit, try out and embody techniques and movements, in the case of
Marc Vanrunxt there is more to be considered. In his case dancing,
certainly in his first solos, becomes a visibly staged test of
strength, between the dancer’s own body – the incapable, unwilling,
unadapted, helpless, etc. – and a fixed pattern.
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BODY OF WORK
Studies in despair: the earliest work
When Marc Vanrunxt made his official debut in 1983 with Vier
Korte Dansen, he already had several test pieces to his name.
Their titles included Kleinigheden, Over iemand, Over mensen,
Stella who? and Again/weeral. The Ommeganckstraat pieces,
named after the address of the Antwerp house where the performances
took place, were conceptual. Vanrunxt moved along the
narrow ledge of a mantelpiece while Eric Raeves, the dancer with
whom he was to continue to work throughout his career, danced
in the garden. Or, a woman danced while sitting in a flooded
room; her long hair, which she swished through the water to
music by Penderecki, was soaking wet. Although these projects
bore the seeds of later work, Vanrunxt only started the
chronometer of his oeuvre at the moment when Vier Korte
Dansen, a compilation of solos and almost-solos, was invited to
be performed at the Doornroosje theatre in Nijmegen. So
Vanrunxt let his career start when the work left the domestic circle
and began to circulate in a public network, where it could be
transformed into symbolic capital.
The first Dutch performance in Nijmegen had a domino effect,
leading to an extensive tour of the whole of the Netherlands. By
analogy, a ‘discursive tour’ was generated in the national press
and the various local papers, in which Vanrunxt received a great
deal of attention. The dance critics were almost unanimous in
their enthusiasm. On the one hand Vier Korte Dansen was called
‘incomparable’, while on the other it was extensively compared to
expressionism, butoh and the directness and rawness of performance
art. A few critics referred to ‘anti-dance’ 4 , challenging all
the laws, probably because there was so little dance-like ‘movement’
in it. But it is more correct to call it ‘meta-dance’, because
Vanrunxt did not want to set himself against or opposite dance. 5
On the contrary, he positioned himself in the midst of the domain
of dance and held a mirror up to it. He was thereby not so much
defying the laws and conventions as externalising them, intensifying
them, and making them extremely visible. It was especially the
image of contemporary dance as a sort of ‘free dance’ in which
anything goes and nothing is compulsory, that was the first to be
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body of work
dismantled. Vanrunxt unmasked the propagated liberty as a
licence which, paradoxically, had always had to be licensed. He
pointed out the underlying mechanisms of regulation and exclusion,
the ties that are even more forceful in a situation that denies
them. Both existentially and artistically he pictured man/the artist
as someone who is restrained, even to the point of paralysis. 6
In the second of the Vier Korte Dansen, No puedo mas (I can’t
go on), this can also be seen literally. Vanrunxt, as upright as a
pillar of salt, was blindfolded and wrapped up to the small of his
back with white bandages, so that he could hardly walk. In contrast
to this immobility, his arms swayed violently, pummelling
his midriff, and knocked him off balance so that he fell over. He
was stood upright again by Eric Raeves, so that the thrashing
about – and falling over – could start again. No puedo mas was
the way this beginning choreographer introduced himself, but
instead of dancing – which is rather obvious – he portrayed
standstill. In this piece, as in later ones, movement did not appear
as a self-evident given, but had to be conquered on an enormous
barricade. Even though the solo moved in a crescendo to the
music of Brian Eno, it reached neither a peak nor fulfilment: the
wrestling of a body with itself and the space around it remained
fruitless, producing a picture of extreme impotence. What is
more, the vain thrashing of a ‘mummified caterpillar’ itself
became the movement, in fact it was the movement. 7
The three other dances in the programme were also studies in
despair. In each case Vanrunxt started from a psychological state
which he made literal in an intense physical form. In Solo voor
1000 mannen, Vanrunxt, in a long skirt, danced in such a vehement
and concentrated way to a loud musical lament for 52 violins,
written by the Polish composer Penderecki to commemorate
the victims of Hiroshima, it was as if a whole legion of men were
dancing along in his body. De Rode Dans, Absolute
Körperkontrolle set to the Radetsky March, transposed the
theme of the military into a grotesque race that ultimately spattered
apart against the rear wall of the stage. De Natte Dans, set
to the music of Petula Clark, presented the image of a man who
had not only figuratively but also literally had a cold shower:
Eric Raeves in a dripping wet shirt. This figure’s resignation was
in very sharp contrast to the full title of the solo: You must
understand that we lived in an atmosphere of euphoria, youth
and enthusiasm that can hardly be imagined today.
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Many of the elements that form the trade mark of Vanrunxt’s
style were present in Vier Korte Dansen. The motive of bondage
was to become a fundamental theme throughout his work. In the
area of costume this is expressed in a penchant for ‘tube’ costumes.
In terms of movement this takes the form of a restrainedly
strict and often repetitive style. Against the waste of energy
and playful delirium – highlighted in Paul Valéry’s essay
Philosophie de la danse as the essential characteristic of dance –
Vanrunxt sets an exhortation for moderation and containment.
Consequently, the body of the Vanrunxt dancer has something of
the suit of armour about it, a finely-veined bell-jar under permanent
muscle tension, from which movement has to wring itself or
burst free, sometimes in violently explosive eruptions.
Another stylistic feature is the equal use of diverse types of
music, such as classical (Penderecki), MOR (Petula Clark) and
pop music (Brian Eno). Penderecki’s funeral music exposed two
veins that Vanrunxt continued to draw from: that of sorrowful
music (in numerous variations, from Dies Iraes to Patti Smith’s
Elegy) and that of contemporary East-European music. The latter
tendency includes Henry Górecki and Galina Ustvolskaya,
Vanrunxt being the first choreographer to introduce this music
into Belgian, and perhaps Western European dance. It is also
notable that Vanrunxt repeated the same music several times. The
song by Petula Clark was replayed several times in succession during
the course of the dance, just as the music of Mozart and
Hindemith were repeated quite naturally in his later pieces Triomf
of Dood and Antilichaam. Unlike the postmodern American tradition,
repetition in Vier Korte Dansen was here not employed to
achieve a sort of monotonous and almost detached neutrality, but
on the contrary to increase the theatrical effect and, who knows,
to make the music, which Vanrunxt played very loud, tangible for
a short while, to give it the substance of a solid block of granite
that enveloped the dancer.
Poging tot Beweging (Attempted movement):
civilisations and other stories of ends
The title immediately reveals that Poging tot Beweging started
from the same impasse as No Puedo Mas in Vier Korte Dansen.
Since this time Marc Vanrunxt did not himself dance, but trans-
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body of work
posed his movement (or non-movement) onto six dancers
wrapped tightly in black tube skirts (a variation on the bandages),
the impotence inevitably became more formal. As well as
this the portrayal of a man, or of man, was extended to that of
mankind. Another consequence of this transposition was that the
subject came across as less psychological and more existential.
Whereas Vier Korte Dansen depicted an inner conflict, in Poging
tot Beweging there appeared a more abstract image of a desperate
generation wishing to disentangle itself from the old order,
but not yet knowing which alternative to choose.
The first section of Poging tot Beweging was black and showed
a selection of straitjacketed dancers manoeuvring forwards in a
row. When they had reached the front they were overcome by an
uncontrollable itch, to the tune of Górecki’s Symphony of
Laments. This was a prior indication of the second, white section
in which the dancers writhed like reptiles rubbing off their scales.
In this second part uniformity vanished altogether and made way
for chaos. When at the end the dancers appeared in a very bright
light, naked, the new mankind seemed to have arisen, and the
performance was at an end.
It is a simple, compelling structure: order and then chaos. First
there is the limit, the law, prohibition, repression. The ‘not’, the
‘no’. This is followed by delimitation, which breaks up the totalitarian
terror into a disparate (though still tightly choreographed)
formlessness. Marc Vanrunxt was to remain faithful to this basic
pattern throughout his career. As, for example, in A. Dieu, which
took the last, decadent fin de siècle as its starting point. In that
piece, the dancers heaped several costumes on top of a swimming
costume, only to remove them all again at the end and return to
the original state of the swimming costume (almost naked). One
can see in this accumulation of layers of clothing the advancing
process of civilisation, which ultimately leads to its own decline.
A civilisation weighed down by itself, by too much of itself.
Marc Vanrunxt has been interested throughout his career by eras
coming to their end, periods when decline and germination, limitation
and delimitation meet. But this interest has assumed varying
forms. In the beginning there was a predominant rawness,
related to the ‘go all the way’ attitude of Vier Korte Dansen,
Poging tot Beweging and A. Dieu. Looking back, Vanrunxt situates
this against the background of the eighties: ‘It was a dark,
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The aesthetics of
disoriented period. The glamorous seventies were gone, punk
had died out but was still having an effect, and what remained
was lethargy. It was the time of Joy Division, Siouxsie and the
Banshees.’ Vanrunxt also found this ‘raw, uncompromising energy’
in Club Moral, the Antwerp punk gallery run by the artists
Danny Devos and Anne-mie Van Kerckhoven, where he regularly
came into contact with Body Art performances and acts. But
what Vanrunxt found more important than the actual club activities
and the members’ magazine Force Mental was ‘the general
spirit in which they were done’: daring and experimentation, an
anti-bourgeois attitude, the search for extremes, the shifting of
boundaries, and all with the commitment of the whole body.
Along these lines he marked out two procedures he employs:
exaggeration and repetition (which is a form of exaggeration).
Exaggeration alludes to ‘too far’, always going beyond what is
‘usual’. A scene preferably lasts too long – even though its point
of saturation has been passed. There is too much: excess,
baroque – over the boundaries of good taste. Or there is too little:
reduction, purification – as far as the austerity of minimalism.
The audience may long ago have seen where it is going or
what it is about, but that does not prevent everything being
unfolded as far as its most extreme consequences. All the way,
and further. The ultimate objective of such exhausting tactics is
intensification as a way of rendering things ‘necessary’ and
‘acute’, as if a forceful and intense life helps to sort matter – that
what matters – out. In this way highly diverse styles can exist
alongside each other (minimalism and baroque) as long as they
comply with the requirements of consistency and extremity.
In Vanrunxt’s work we gradually see a shift away from the gruesome
stories of ends. Instead of swansongs, dark fairytales of
doom and parting (A.Dieu), in the later work Utopia came
increasingly to the fore. Marc Vanrunxt sought to reconcile fragmentation,
stick the pieces back together, and heal the wounds. An
example of this shift from apocalypse (A.Dieu) to prophecy is
Aquarius, a danced opera to the music of the same name by Karel
Goeyvaerts. Aquarius represented the age of Aquarius in which all
conflicts will have ceased to exist (we see a playful nod in the
direction of this Utopia in Modern Composition, when the master
of ceremonies quotes the song Aquarius from the musical Hair).
Yet it is not entirely correct to sum up two decades of work as
a swing from doom to hope. In fact in Vanrunxt’s work, endings
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body of work
(of the old order) and beginnings (of the new) are not opposite
poles but are each other’s precondition, the one not being conceivable
without the other. Even the destructive energy in the
more violent passages of his work is never an end in itself. Every
act of violence also seems to be one of purification, one that
yields a desire for ‘a new beginning’. For example, in a more
recent performance, Dies Irae, the motifs of the End of Time and
the Day of Judgement returned to the fore, but without any cultural
pessimism, definitely in view of the two musical versions of
the Dies Irae Vanrunxt juxtaposed. Jean-Baptiste Lully’s fearsome
Dies Irae (1674) was set alongside its rebellious counterpart
of the same name, by Galina Ustvolskaya (1973). Whereas
in the first version the heavens threatened to tumble down, in the
second the dancers, to the sound of Ulstvolskaya’s hammering on
the piano, struck back energetically. Disaster and resistance
stood at each other’s side as equals.
A second shift in accent is that from the big stories, the histories
of eras and civilisations, to ‘other’ stories. The cosmic format
was gradually diminished, so that after Ballet in Wit (Ballet in
White), it was Man rather than Mankind who gradually, increasingly
made his appearance. It is true that he is also involved in
stages and cycles, but no longer the great tensions between generation
and degeneration, culture and nature. The course he follows
is a journey past various states of mind, pain and resistance,
lethargy and anarchy, vulnerability and strength.
In 1980 there was an exhibition of ‘Fernand Knopff, 1858-1921’
in Belgium. Marc Vanrunxt says he was greatly impressed by this
work. It was from that time that his great interest in symbolism
started, the art movement that had arisen in the second half of
the nineteenth century and was later very much maligned. There
is little trace of this interest in Vier Korte Dansen or Poging tot
Beweging, which are more akin to expressionist and performance
art aesthetics. But from the next piece on, Hyena,
Vanrunxt’s third full-length performance, symbolism as a source
of inspiration became more manifest. The appearance of props in
the first part of Hyena marked a deliberate playing with iconographic
motifs derived from historical symbolism. The dancer
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Linda Swaab carried round a plastic swan, from which she scattered
artificial snow, while Vanrunxt was laid out like a sort of
white bride amongst white lilies. In terms of the movements and
energy, the first part of Hyena was still reminiscent of the earlier
work: the movements were angular, with the same sort of neurotic
crispness. In the second part the movements became
rounder, but also more lethargic. Illuminated by artificial light
constantly going on and off (like moonlight with clouds moving
in front of it) there unfolded a no man’s land where everything
was frozen. No repression or revolt, no order or chaos, just this
entropic zero, an almost-death.
Swan, lilies, snow, moon, death – these are the best-known
topoi in symbolism. They were later to be supplemented by
Vanrunxt’s interest in fatal and tragic women like Salomé and
Dalida (a contemporary variant on the Salomé figure). 8 In the
course of the second half of the eighties the symbolist motifs and
iconographic quotations became more and more manifest in
poses and costumes, reaching a peak in the exuberant fashion
danceshow Aï at Springdance and in the video that Vanrunxt
designed for the Mime Department of the Amsterdam Theater
School. In these he indulged himself with symbolist imagery,
while in later productions he handled them more sparingly.
Apart from the imagery it was, however, the way symbolism
touched on the process of meaning that had its most far-reaching
consequences. The almost tactile literalness of form and meaning
in the first works (which of course does not rule out several interpretations)
shifted towards something more enigmatic and mysterious.
9 Vanrunxt showed a lively interest in numerical symbolism,
the Order of Freemasons (as in Triomf of Dood, Moderne
Compositie and The Power of Love) and alchemy. The structures
became increasingly layered and complex, the movements more
evocative. Vanrunxt did not present the audience with rebuses
though: the symbols were not problems, with a solution waiting
for the clever puzzler. No, if this symbolic content signalled anything
it was – entirely in keeping with symbolism – that ‘things
are not what they appear to be’. 10 Beyond this lies a hinterland,
a secret life.
The critics saw it in two different ways. They either exhausted
themselves with interpretations, or they were enormously irritated
by the pregnant, sublime symbolism, the ‘pseudo-profundity’.
11 In an essay dealing with Hyena, Robert Steijn predicted that
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body of work
Vanrunxt’s leaning towards symbolism, which Steijn called an
outdated movement, might well backfire on him. 12 And it certainly
did. In the pattern of thought that dominated the dance
world at that time there was hardly any space for the dissenting
voice of Vanrunxt. This dissenting voice was obviously also too
weak to broaden the palette. 13
Vanrunxt’s symbolism, however, was not gratuitous. It was
symptomatic of a wider attitude of artistic resistance to realism
in art. More especially it opposed the vulgarity of the ‘everyday’.
And more generally: the vulgarity of the immediate meaning, of
easily digestible aesthetics. Vanrunxt threw up dams against
directness, he brewed his own antidote. Its ingredients were
beauty, sublimity, splendour, tragedy and mysticism. It was made
in accordance with the principles of transformation, aestheticisation,
stylisation, ritualisation and ceremonialisation.
Who’s afraid of kitsch?
In the discussion of Marc Vanrunxt another element became
more apparent together with the sources of symbolic inspiration,
and this was kitsch. Critics noticed this aspect and since then
have continued to remark on it. The plastic swan, men in long
skirts or dresses, pop songs alongside classical music, the sublime
poses – all kitsch. Sometimes it sounds like an observation
(‘Vanrunxt uses kitsch’) and sometimes like a verdict (‘It is
kitsch’). It is certainly true that when Vanrunxt uses what is
taken for kitsch in a non-ironical way, (and not as a gimmick in
a postmodern play), lots of people give up on it. In the eighties it
appears that kitsch was only acceptable in art when its user at the
same time built in an ironical detachment, a margin in which
common sense or good taste could take refuge, and from where
it could coyly flirt with this ‘bad taste’, and ‘The Other’.
Vanrunxt does not permit such a refuge. However varied the
ingredients may be, he treats them all equally, seriously and with
dedication. Even though aesthetics often thrive by the grace of an
ingenious mechanism of exclusion, which has to eliminate anything
that may infect the purity of the individual’s style. But
Vanrunxt’s style is precisely a diverse one. He does not exclude,
he absorbs. Instead of hierarchy and ‘either or’, he prefers the
juxtaposition of ‘both and’.
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If Vanrunxt is a subversive artist, it is because he does the
things that are ‘not done’. But without wishing to provoke or
ridicule: strategic calculations of this sort, in which, by transgressing
taboos, one at the same time secures a built-in profit
margin, are alien to him. The boundary between what is allowed
and what is not, is not marked, but is removed, so that the socalled
‘abnormal’ is automatically normalised. In this way, within
the framework of his aesthetics, within the ‘magical’ duration
of a performance, Vanrunxt succeeds, for a short while, in creating
a bit of Utopia. Men and women dance there in long dresses,
make-up or paint their bodies, and do karaoke performances of
the smoochy songs of Dalida, set to disco tunes. In short, they literally
overindulge in transvestism: behind the mask of other guises
(other egos) they burst out of their social identity in order to
live exuberantly the numerous contrasts that stir inside them.
The position Vanrunxt has taken up has always been within the
dance context. This is the artistic territory in which he has from
the very beginning fought his battles. But his attitude towards the
medium of dance has been changing over the years. Between
Poging tot Beweging (Attempted Movement) in 1984 and
Moderne Compositie in 1991 there was not only a considerable
length of time, but also – and the titles indicate this – a complete
change of consciousness. Whereas Vanrunxt initially only called
himself a choreographer with a certain hesitance, he gradually
felt more comfortable in this position. In a press release, he said,
‘A.Dieu was a major step towards becoming a choreographer.’
With regard to Ballet in Wit, he told Jan Baart, ‘I no longer think
it’s so captivating to be dealing with my own trouble and obsessions.
My work is now much more about the ballet world itself,
and about structures.’ Vanrunxt repeatedly points to his pursuit
of greater clarity and purity. The emphasis is not on the expression,
but on the means: ‘form, colours (primary) and structure.
Kult-Star, which was composed of solos Vanrunxt had created
between 1991 and 1993, externalised this pursuit. He tells us
that in one of the pieces, Electrica, he had presented a ‘manifesto’
of his ‘character and skill as a dancer and choreographer’. His
proposal was abstract: dance is its own subject and, following
18 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
body of work
Laban and Schlemmer, deals with space and energy. Even in the
Dalida act, whose form was closer to performance art, his modernist
inclination is revealed. This act was an tribute to the then
recently deceased German abstract choreographer Gerhard
Bohner, who was well known for his solos and for the reconstruction
of Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadische Balletten. 14
At first sight this modernism (form for form’s sake) seems to
run counter to Vanrunxt’s symbolism. Whereas symbolism suggests
that ‘it is not what it seems to be’, modernism says ‘it is what
it is’. Whereas the former movement stood for transcendency (the
signifier refers to something vaguely signified), modernism is concerned
with immanence (the signifier and the signified are the
same). The symbolist comes at the end of an era, the modernist
heralds a new one. The one concludes, the other begins.
But here too, Vanrunxt brings apparently irreconcilable trends
together in the inclusive gesture that is his work. In addition to
this is the fact that symbolism and modernism are not totally foreign
to each other. Both cultivate a lofty and always earnest attitude
of ‘art for art’s sake’. It is clear that to both, art is a serious,
even sacred praxis in no need of relativity. Their shared aestheticism,
however, is translated into different aesthetics. The symbolist
likes atmosphere, vagueness and redundancy, while the
modernist swears by accuracy, clarity and essence. As the stereotype
goes, the one opts for round forms, the other for angular.
Oeuvre and change
Among the first choreographers who appeared in the early eighties,
there was a tremendous urge to create new work, most especially
not to repeat but to constantly reinvent themselves. Fearing
‘artistic recidivism’, the performances succeeded each other in an
ex negativo process, in which each choreographic work was the
negative image of the one before. In the case of Anne Teresa De
Keersmaeker there was, it is said, a pendulum movement
between pieces that were very much oriented towards either
dance or theatre. In Vanrunxt’s case there is no such alternation,
but this does not minimise the differences between his initial
choreographic works. Whereas Vier Korte Dansen was close to
home, the ultra-formal Poging tot beweging excluded any glimmer
of autobiography. While Hyena suffered from lethargy (lack
19 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
of energy), A.Dieu was explosive. A.Dieu was black, Ballet in
Wit was, that’s right: white. Vanrunxt persistently went to those
places where he was not expected.
What held the sharp contrasts together was a number of
‘markers’ which constantly recurred and gave the work a sort of
signature. They comprised a handful of motives and attributes:
the packaging of the body, skirts and gloves, fatal female characters,
figures like Hypnos, Aladdin Sane (David Bowie), funeral
music and so on. These motives appeared in various arrangements,
with shifting meanings. They were fascinations and obsessions,
the aesthetic neuroses or fetishes that constitute and populate
an imaginary world.
Marc Vanrunxt once said in a conversation that after Ballet in
Wit he abandoned what he called an idée fixe: ‘everything must
always be different’. ‘I replaced the great black/white extremes
with an exploration of the countless shades between the two.’
The fact that at the end of the eighties this domain had expanded
to include a new generation of choreographers was probably
a support. If the pioneer of contemporary dance still had to produce
(and possibly simulate) a diversified field of options, he or
she would – as more new colleagues started to work and together
provide for diversity – be able to concentrate more on cultivating
his or her own garden.
A key term taking root in the lexicon of contemporary dance
at about that time was ‘the oeuvre’. This standard term to denote
a career broke away from the urge always to create radically different
work every time, and reconciled the dynamics of change
with those of continuity. The choreographer builds up an oeuvre,
within the shifting outlines of an organic curriculum, in which
new and familiar elements are constantly articulated and rearticulated.
One opponent of this now accepted concept of the oeuvre
is Thierry Smits, who explicitly rejects the oeuvre in his desire
for non-identity as a choreographer and for radical disruption
and free mutation and transformation. By contrast, Vanrunxt is
a genuine ‘oeuvre choreographer’ and is genuinely concerned
with ‘identity’. But it is an identity that permits the hybrid and in
which, in accordance with a well-planned ars combinatoria, a
wealth of disruptive opposites are able to coexist.
In the nineties Vanrunxt searched emphatically for ‘mongrel’
forms, receptacles in which co-existence could be contained. The
working title of Moderne Compositie, which opened in 1991,
20 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
body of work
was Puzzle, being an assembly of numerous ideas (some new, but
plenty of old ones too) that Vanrunxt was arranging in the piece.
In Kult-Star, the compilation of solos, Vanrunxt brought together
more clearly than ever before the three pillars of his artistic
credo: symbolism (in the Salomé act), modernism (in the
Electrica inspired by Laban) and performance art (the Dalida
karaoke, with a porno video in the background). This tripartite
approach also formed the basis of Antilichaam and Dies Irae, but
in this case the separate parts, though still clearly distinguishable,
were more fully integrated into the full-length performance. The
choreographic works that succeeded this increasingly integrated
the parts so that the insular segmentarity dissolved in a flux.
In another way, Antropomorf was typical of this far-reaching
capacity for absorption. Vanrunxt asked a colleague, the choreographer
Alexander Baervoets, to create a ten-minute episode
which he then seamlessly integrated into the choreography. This
was very telling about Vanrunxt’s work: a foreign element,
Baervoets’ episode, was incorporated without any sign, without
being marked or defined. In the recent Antimaterie a similar
implantation happened when Vanrunxt inserted an existing solo
for Maria De Corte, though he had choreographed this himself.
21 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
THE OUTER BODY
Varying success? A story of reception 15
The official story is that Marc Vanrunxt made a promising start
with Vier Korte Dansen, which was given encouragement primarily
in the Netherlands. However, as from Hyena, in 1985, he
soon encountered growing resistance. Nevertheless, with Ballet
in Wit in 1988 he was still given the opportunity to prove himself
on the large stage of that temple of culture, deSingel. But the
piece was a flop and Vanrunxt ended up isolated. Due to financial
problems the subsequent projects were either on a small scale
or on commission. He hoped to turn the tide with Moderne
Compositie, coproduced with the Berchem Cultural Centre.
After that he tried it with the solo Sur Scène in 1991. The critics
were fairly positive about these two pieces, but not unanimously
or enthusiastically enough to put Vanrunxt back on the map. 16
Since he received no subsidies, and no institutional support was
forthcoming in Belgium, from 1992 to 1994 Vanrunxt relied primarily
on Dutch producers, such as the Reflex company in
Groningen and the dancer and choreographer Truus Bronkhorst’s
Stichting van de Toekomst. In 1993 the solo piece Kult-Star, supported
by the latter company, was blasted by the critics in both
Belgium and the Netherlands, which only increased his isolation.
In the same year Vanrunxt danced in a striking role as a fallen
angel in Jan Fabre’s successful Da un’altra faccia del tempo.
According to a member of the committee of the Dance Board,
this guest appearance helped to revive interest and ultimately led
to subsidies, insufficient though they were (and have remained).
This led to Antilichaam, which was highly successful. Since then
Vanrunxt has enjoyed renewed, though very fragile, interest and
subsidies. 17 His productivity is in any case very high at the
moment, with a new full-length choreography every year and
solos, commissions and site-specific projects in between.
There are several striking things about this story. Vanrunxt’s
work has always been very differently received in Belgium and the
Netherlands. It is true that in the course of the eighties we could
see how attention and appreciation in the press decreased in both
countries, but Vanrunxt was given credit for longer in the Dutch
press. 18 This is odd when one realises that at the time Vanrunxt
22 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
 Notes made by Marc Vanrunxt for Beweging vier (later Vier Korte Dansen),
August 1983, included in the Stuc programme booklet.
 Hyena. Choreography: Marc Vanrunxt.
New Dance Festival, Munich, March 1985.
 A.Dieu. Choreography: Marc Vanrunxt.
De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, September 1986.
 Dies Irae. Choreography: Marc Vanrunxt. Cultural Centre Berchem,
September 1995. With Marc Vanrunxt, Rosa Hermans and Eric Raeves.
 Printed design by Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven for Marc Vanrunxt’s Kult-
Star, April 1993.
 Antimaterie. Choreography: Marc Vanrunxt. Cultural Centre Berchem,
January 1999. With Rosa Hermans, Marie-Anne Schotte and Marc Vanrunxt.
the outer body
was starting, Belgian criticism was also in its infancy (in contrast
to the Dutch, who were able to rely on a longer tradition).
Nevertheless, the Belgian dance critics seldom or never took any
account of the fact that it had only just developed (inadequate
frames of reference, etc.), but, on the contrary, were from the very
beginning self-confident, very strict and even authoritarian.
But we should not overestimate the impact of criticism and the
part played by the critic. Programming officers and producers
had a greater influence on Vanrunxt’s work. 19 It is a fact that
Marc Vanrunxt lacks the backing of a forceful organisation or
organiser, such as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker found in Hugo
De Greef and his Schaamte production organisation, or Jan
Fabre in a strong entourage. Vanrunxt certainly did build up a
major cooperative link with De Beweeging dance festival. He featured
in the first festival in 1984 with Poging tot Beweging and
has remained in contact with the organisation ever since. Since
1997 he has been its resident choreographer and in 1999 was the
guest curator for the last festival. But De Beweeging lacked the
international reputation of its Leuven counterpart, the Klapstuk
Dance Festival, and was less able to launch its performers on.
Moreover, at crucial moments in Vanrunxt’s career De
Beweeging was too much involved in its own struggle for survival,
or else had other programming priorities and was not able
to support him. 20
On his side, Vanrunxt does not deny the official story of his
career, but points out a number of discrepancies between the discursive
construction that such a career really is, and his experience
of it. 21 He says that he has the feeling of never really having
been a success – neither in the beginning, nor recently with the
renewed interest. It is true he does receive positive reactions, but
even the success has an undertone. And the praise is never
unadulterated: a certain hesitation always comes through like a
basso continuo in the chorus of praise. In the deferment, first of
the ‘promising’ choreographer (will he fulfil the promise?) and
later the ‘comeback kid’ (will he find his way home?) Vanrunxt
distinguishes an essentially anticipatory and never softening critical
attitude. 22 If a performance is good, it is never completely
good, or perhaps only briefly.
In short, Marc Vanrunxt is not so much successful as experiencing
minor successes that he is unable to sustain. 23 They do not
27 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
succeed in broadening into an extended body or to condense into
an image of the ‘successful choreographer’. He has had to
exchange this epithet for others, such as ‘controversial’ or ‘exceptional’,
‘special’ and ‘unique choreographer’. In the jargon of the
critic, adjectives like ‘unique’, and also ‘headstrong’ and ‘special’
are qualitative distinctions. But however much this may be a
bonus (‘Marc Vanrunxt really is a very special choreographer,
who has a voice all his own’), this ‘specialness’ also indicates an
aberration from the norm. This supposes an implicit system of
rules or a pattern of taste, in which Vanrunxt is considered to be
As already mentioned, Vanrunxt’s kinship with maligned stylistic
movements like symbolism have contributed to his isolation.
Though it must be said that Vanrunxt was sometimes simply
ahead of his time. Vanrunxt danced to disco and Glam Rock
tunes even before they enjoyed a revival. Before gender crossing
had come to the fore he was bringing hybrid sexual identity to
the stage. 24 Even before sentiment and pathos were being ‘done’
over again, as is now gradually happening, Vanrunxt was the
man of the grand gestures. At a time when women’s bodies dominated
contemporary dance, he was the first in Belgium to confront
the audience with the formation of a male image and the
representation of the masculine body.
With regard to the latter, and more particularly to Marc
Vanrunxt himself, as a performer, the critics were divided. Some
praised his stage presence and considered that he left the other
dancers way behind when it came to charisma and powers of
expression. Others, and this came out in conversations with several
critics, were not sure how to take his performances. They
found his oversized body confusing – masculine (and to some
clearly homosexual), tall, non-standard, aberrant. Especially
when it also turned out that Vanrunxt did not legitimise his presence
by virtuosity, virile strength or erotic seduction. 25
Some people will cherish Vanrunxt precisely because of this
‘inappropriateness’, while others will reject him for the same reason.
In a somewhat different terminology, what we see here is an
exoticism (one is fond of ‘the other’, precisely because they are
different) or racism (one rejects ‘the other’, because they are different).
In both cases Vanrunxt is marginalised.
Vanrunxt reacts in two ways. On the one hand he appears to
withdraw completely from the whole question of evaluation. His
28 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
the outer body
already thoroughly closed world thereby assumes even more the
character of a sanctuary. A banished wizard builds his Utopia
there, in which he can live out his own truths. It is a romantic
image of faith and resistance. On the other hand this ingenious
‘counter-world’ is not hermetically sealed off from the ‘outside
world.’ In his work, Vanrunxt does genuinely mediate with the
really very concrete reality of recognition or misunderstanding.
Titles like Triomf of Dood and Victoria (Latin for ‘victory’)
demonstrate an unremitting readiness for the fray. The press
folder for Fortitudo (moral strength), intended to pre-empt its
reception by using a line from Liza Minnelli’s film Cabaret:
‘Maybe this time I’ll win’. In Kult-Star he granted himself stardom,
though one in a sub-world (cult). Such references could be
an artist’s anecdotal or feeble comments on his position on the
dance scene, if it were not that they link up with the underlying
themes of vulnerability and strength. In his work we see the basic
figure of the wounded loner, the injured man, who holds out and
strides on in dignity in spite of the many blows he has received.
This is more than the story of Vanrunxt himself, it is also an existential
view of man as this solitary person passing through,
always on the way. He never returns (this man does not do
‘come-backs’), because he never arrives. This person is the eternal
But let us look back briefly at the conditions under which Marc
Vanrunxt made his actual debut.
With Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Alain Platel, Marc
Vanrunxt is one of the first generation of choreographers that
arose in the early eighties. The great dance ‘boom’, more myth
than reality, was only to come in 1986 when a second generation
(including Wim Vandekeybus) appeared. The situation of this
second generation of ‘babyboomers’ when they started was more
varied. The arrival of the dance festivals, like Klapstuk in 1983
and De Beweeging in 1984, and the dance programming at
deSingel, which assumed a clearer profile after 1985, meant that
in the second half of the eighties a more obvious dance network
came into being which, as it expanded and became more professional
in the nineties, was in terms of organisation better able to
29 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
handle, support and distribute the growing diversity of activities.
By contrast, the first generation of choreographers were working
in a wasteland. Professional dance criticism was almost nonexistent,
the work and staging conditions were scarce and deficient
in many ways. One cannot even speak of a dance scene at
that time, it was more like a pit of quicksand. What choreographers
needed to catapult them out of this quagmire onto more
solid ground was the lightning rise; those who rose too slowly
were in danger of being sucked down into the depths. In dance
one has to make it fast or not at all.
For example, the way a choreographer like Anne Teresa De
Keersmaeker built her career was the eighties prototype of what
could be called ‘successful’. It was a growth model with a driving
force, whose exponential increase in scale reflects someone’s
importance. The ‘promising’ Marc Vanrunxt seemed for a while
to fit into this picture, but when he did not take off quickly
enough (although he had had the launching pads of Klapstuk 85
and Kaaitheater 85), it seemed that the ideal model of small to
large to mega did not apply. It seemed that Vanrunxt literally and
figuratively fell short of that particular model. 26
When Rudi Laermans and Marianne Van Kerkhoven rightly
comment that Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker established a standard
for contemporary dance in Belgium, this also applies to
Marc Vanrunxt. 27 Both are contemporary choreographers from
the very earliest days, whose successful debuts gave the signal
that something was about to happen in Belgium. At the same
time, in this role, they functioned as each other’s negative image.
De Keersmaeker studied at the Mudra school in Brussels and at
the Tisch School of the Arts in New York, while Marc Vanrunxt
is an autodidact who came from a semi-professional dance
world. If De Keersmaeker was the Belgian response to the internationally
prominent postmodernism of the time (Pina Bausch
and minimalist postmodern dance), Vanrunxt linked up with the
undercurrents: the historical-modern German dance as propagated
by Rudolf von Laban, Mary Wigman, Rosalia Chladek
and Gerhard Bohner on the one hand, and performance art on
the other. De Keersmaker was closer to what is ‘undeniably good
art’, while Vanrunxt liked to seek out the adulterated offshoots:
Strauss, Glam Rock, pop, mannerism, etc. As opposed to the
always ‘straight’ (though indeed plural) image of woman in De
30 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
the outer body
Keersmaeker’s work (with a great deal of attention paid to manwoman
relationships), Vanrunxt eliminates the gender differences
in favour of a hybrid androgyny. She is an international
success, he has a career of trial and error.
It is not the intention to label Vanrunxt as a counter-example.
But it is a fact that with its lack of dance tradition and a broader
perspective, Belgian contemporary dance originally sought its
own outline and boundaries on the basis of these first symbolic
individuals. Vanrunxt was a diverging standard, set apart from
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. The negative space that spread out
between these two choreographers, however, opened up an area
of possibility for those who followed them. While De Keersmaeker
taught her compatriots how to look at dance, but equally became
a normative standard (‘this is how others should create dance’),
Vanrunxt taught them what diversity might comprise. 28 The challenge
awaiting us is to actually live the diversity so gladly propagated,
in both the artistic and cultural policy fields. 29
31 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
It started with the body. Where will it end?
Contemporary dance can hardly be imagined without considering
the body. It is no longer purely an instrument, it is also the
subject of a penetrating examination of the form in which it
appears and its status in a mediatised world. This extensive interest
undeservedly gives the body the air of a final foothold; its
substance is to create solidity in a world of shifting certainties.
Since so much pressure is hard to handle, even the ‘strongest’, the
most ‘authentic’, the ‘truest’ body breaks down. It is mainly this
fragmented image of the body that many dance performances
show, such as those by William Forsythe and Meg Stuart.
Although Vanrunxt’s body, in its singular form, is the basis of
the work he has produced, and although the body is therefore an
unalienable factor in this work, Vanrunxt is clearly distinguishable
from the dominant discourse on dance as a ‘body art’. 30 He
does this by going against the double reduction that often occurs
in it. Firstly, he resists the all too radical shift in accent from the
dancer (human being) to body – by pointing out that the dancer
is not a body, but has a body. Vanrunxt then places a ‘total
human’ opposite the reduction of the body to a bodily part.
Vanrunxt seldom works with isolation or fragmentation; where
there are pieces he tries to stick them together.
In this great urge to stick things together Vanrunxt seems like
modern-day alchemist trying to make gold out of lead, one who
wants to make sacred everything he draws into the aesthetic
domain of his work. Dance, movement, music, stage set, lighting,
costumes: Vanrunxt says that altogether they should produce
something extra. The alchemist would call it the essence. In
Vanrunxt’s case this wisp of something extra that escapes and
rises up out of the theatre box is, to some extent, the soul.
Perhaps for this reason Vanrunxt’s work is more a dance of the
soul than of the body. Essentially a little transcendent, elusive. Who
knows, this may explain the absence Vanrunxt’s dancers always
have, despite all their presence. The feeling that even in the act of
baring all, they still withdraw and become invisible.
However, things are never so simple as we would like. Because
even though Vanrunxt withdraws from what is tangible, his pri-
32 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
vate body does not so easily allow itself to be ignored. The interesting
tension in Vanrunxt’s work is that where he dematerialises
and leaves the body, this same body often intrudes once more.
In his work, the body remains, as in the past, an uncontrollable,
obstinate X-factor, an irreducible remnant. The perfect physical
paradox also continues to have an effect here: the soul as a lively
breath of air, on the body’s ponderous legs.
33 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
1. De Beweeging, founded in 1984 as a biennial contemporary dance festival,
developed into a dance organisation lending support to the production and presentation
of work mainly by choreographers active in Belgium. Since last year the
festival has been organised every four months. Vanrunxt was the guest curator
for the third edition in the new formula.
2. Luc Rasquin in De Rode Vaan.
3. This also became evident in the third Beweeging Festival (1999), of which
Vanrunxt was the curator. The programme consisted of several ‘shock moments’
that were important for Vanrunxt’s development as a choreographer: Karel
Goeyvaerts’ piano piece Litany 1 (1979) and the solo work by the German neoexpressionist
Reinhild Hoffmann. He made the link with the late Gerhard Bohner
by inviting Dieter Baumann and Jutta Hell, for whom Bohner had choreographed
his last piece S.O.S..
4. In 4 korte dansen..., Jan Baart spoke of ‘its anti-dance character’. Eva van
Schaik mentioned ‘anti-dance’ twice in ‘Marc Vanrunxt irriteert...’.
5. In an interview with Jan Middendorp, Vanrunxt said, ‘What we did was not
intended to be ‘anti-dance’. We weren’t against technique, we just had our own.’
6. In an unpublished interview with Katie Verstockt, on making the body immobile,
Vanrunxt said, ‘It had a lot to do with a reaction to the freedom of dance, and
absolutely wanting to look for a personal way, and then taking the opposite course.’
7. A loose adaptation of Jan Baart’s words.
8. For the Salomé figure see The Dance of the Seven Veils in Sur Scène and O
Lichaam bleek en schoon van zondigheid ( Oh Body Pale and Beautiful with Sin)
in Kult-Star. For Dalida see Kult-Star and Antilichaam.
9. Ariejan Korteweg even spoke of ‘“uncivilised” dance’ regarding Poging tot
Beweging. ‘An elementary symbolism is presented quite straightforwardly’,
‘direct, ‘linear’, ‘highly physical’. Robert Steijn described the evolution as follows
in the programme in the text ‘Moving company makes gestures “without melodrama”’:
Hyena, in which Vanrunxt transforms the nightmare of the struggle for
existence into a dreamy vision of longing. The unsparingly tight wrapping for
which he has become known gradually has to make way for a packaging of the
body that is as seductive as possible. After the sweat of the battering bodies a sensitivity
looms up whereby the body seeks a mobility for itself in attractive poses
and the decor assumes increasingly baroque forms. (...) a dreamed past bursting
with mysterious symbols and sacral gestures.’
10. Marijn Van der Jagt, in De Groene Amsterdammer, called it ‘secret language’,
‘in which the speaker tries to articulate his incomprehensible words as clearly as
possible. You cannot discover the meaning of the words, and yet they are vaguely
recognisable.’ There is also a lot about symbolism in this article.
11. Perfect examples of this can be found in Pieter T’Jonck’s reviews of A.Dieu
and Ballet in Wit.
12. Steijn in Het Boek.
13. In this connection, the essay ‘Symbolism and the European dance revolution’
by Valerie Preston-Dunlop and Angela Geary, in Dance Theatre Journal, vol. 14,
no. 3, 1998, PP. 40-45, offered great clarification. It also explains the isolation in
which Mary Wigman ended up as being the result of her sympathy for symbolism.
14. Bohner tried to reconcile the expressiveness of Ausdruckstanz with the formality
of abstract dance.
34 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
15. For more on the role of the critic in the (re)construction of Vanrunxt’s career:
Van Imschoot, Dokumenta, 1998.
16. Some critics ignored Marc Vanrunxt for some time. It was evidently no longer
considered necessary to follow his career.
17. This renewed interest partly coincides with the arrival of a new generation of
programme officers, as in the province of Limburg. New writers: Pascal Gielen,
Clara Vandenbroeck and Jeroen Olyslaegers. Video film-makers: Stefan Franck
and Bart Van Dessel, for the videos Ogni Pensiero Vola and Walking on Thin Ice.
18. For a survey of the Dutch reception of Vanrunxt’s work up to and including
Sleeping Boys, see Robert Steijn’s ‘Poging tot vliegen met Marc Vanrunxt’, Notes.
19. Whereas in Belgium interest in Vanrunxt’s work has again increased since
Antilichaam, the Dutch press remains quiet on the subject, because Vanrunxt
hardly tours there anymore. It is an indication that programming officers have
more power in determining who or which choreographer ‘exists’. Those whose
work is not billed receive hardly any attention from the press.
20. For an outline of De Beweeging, see Paul Verduyckt in Dans in Vlaanderen,
Stichting Kunstboek, Bruges, 1996, pp. 134-138. There is also an English version
of this book.
21. Conversation with Vanrunxt, Leuven, 7th June 1997.
22. The very first time a comeback was referred to: ‘De terugkeer van Marc
Vanrunxt’, Guy Cools, November 1989. On ‘the comeback’ as a literary trope in
the career story of Vanrunxt, see: Van Imschoot, Dokumenta, 1998.
23. Vanrunxt had quite a good list of performances, with domestic appearances
at deSingel, Klapstuk 85 and Kaaitheater 85, and abroad, in Italy, Munich and
London. These were only one night stands (apart from Springdance), because
Vanrunxt did not return: they did not become a fixed location. By contrast, De
Beweeging, Berchem Cultural Centre and the Vooruit are working with Vanrunxt
on a continuous basis.
24. It must be said that Vanrunxt did not make gender a theme of his work. It
seems as if he does not want, under any circumstances, to ‘mark’, or make ‘special’,
the plural sexual identities in which male and female elements are unceasingly
metamorphosed. It was only made into a theme in The Pickwick Man, a
solo on dandyism choreographed for Vanrunxt by Jan Fabre.
25. Apparently, the way Vanrunxt handles technique often elicited opposition.
This is rather singular, since technique did not seem a must in contemporary
dance in the eighties. People had no trouble in accepting that Alain Platel and
later Wim Vandekeybus worked with untrained dancers. But then neither Platel
nor Vandekeybus positioned themselves as ‘choreographers’ or ‘dancers’. It was
of no concern to them what their ‘thing’ was called: theatre, dance theatre, rock
‘n roll, or anything else. But as a choreographer creating ‘dance’ Vanrunxt and
his dancers were to meet technical standards.
26. At the present time it is hard to draw up an artistic balance of the work done
in the eighties. Nor is it the aim here. What is certain is that the dance sector has
only fairly recently become aware, after the success of the slowly climbing choreographer
Alain Platel, among others, of the fact that careers can develop at different
speeds and in many different ways, without this forming a verdict on the
importance of the choreographer.
27. Rudi Laermans and Marianne Van Kerkhoven in Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker,
portrait in the Critical Theatre Lexicons, Flemish Theatre Institute, Brussels, 1997.
35 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
28. One of the interviewees told me: ‘In fact, those choreographers who came on
the scene after the first pioneers, should be grateful to Vanrunxt. Due to him, failure
was put on the mental map of Flemish dance cartography. He visualised a
destination that was not part of the official travelguide’. See also: Van Imschoot,
29. Although Vanrunxt may well benefit from this, he also recognises the dangers
of great diversity. With a reference to Douglas Coupland, he describes how, in
conditions where anything is possible, nothing has any meaning anymore.
Openness might then in its extreme forms lead to indifference, in which all differences
30. The term was coined by Rudi Laermans in ‘Verwarring alom (en gelukkig
geen hoop op beterschap). Vijf notities over hedendaagse dans’, in the Springdance
93 programme book.
36 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
WORK / DANCE HISTORY
Born on 26 August 1960. Marc Vanrunxt is an autodidact. From 1976
to 1981 he danced with An Slootmaeker’s Dance School and group.
From 1978 to 1981 he took courses in modern dance, postmodern
dance, Japanese dance and theatre, and improvisation in Antwerp,
Brussels, Ghent, Luik, Eindhoven and Marseilles. In Strasbourg he
sought out Rosalia Chladek and took part in a workshop led by her. In
1985 he participated in a workshop under Gerhard Bohner.
He has been presenting work of his own since 1981. The first performances
took place in an old town house in Ommeganckstraat.
According to Vanrunxt himself, he only made his official debut on 26
October 1983, with Vier Korte Dansen. He now has twenty other projects
to his name. Most of them were commissioned. In the performances
he created mainly for his own company, Vanrunxt highlighted
the choreographic works he himself preferred. They were in most cases
backed by De Beweeging and CC Berchem. Since 1997 De Beweeging
has been an organisational partner of Hyena.
Marc Vanrunxt’s permanent colleagues are the artist Anne-Mie Van
Kerckhoven for the sets and the composer Thierry Genicot for the
soundscapes used in almost all the pieces from 1985 to 1992. A colleague
from the very beginning, Eric Raeves (dancer and costume
designer) has also been involved in most of the productions.
Vanrunxt himself also works for other stage artists. He helped create the
choreography of Jan Fabre’s second theatre production Het is theater
zoals te verwachten en te voorzien was (1982) and has danced in performances
by Jan Fabre, Thierry Smits, Truus Bronkhorst and Catherine
Since 1984 Marc Vanrunxt has been a guest tutor on the Mime
Course at the Theatre School in Amsterdam. He has also held workshops
at the Higher Dance Institute in Lier.
For each year you will find the following information in this order: the
title of the choreographic work (in italics), the production, music, dancers,
costume designer, set designer, opening venue, number of performances,
and any remarks. Note: Marc Vanrunxt only allows his official dance his-
37 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
tory to commence with Vier Korte Dansen. For the sake of completeness,
however, the performance he created for An Slootmaeker’s company and
the performances in Ommeganckstraat are included anyway.
Dans over steden, gebouwen en kleuren. Music: Anthony Braxton.
Dancers: Dansgroep An Slootmaekers. 4 March, Arenbergschouwburg,
Antwerp. / (Untitled), composite programme (50’): Kleinigheden. Van
iemand over iemand. Over mensen. Stella who. Again/weeral. Selforganised.
Music: Henry Purcell, Johan Pachelbel, Igor Stravinsky,
James White and the Blacks, Brian Eno, David Byrne. Dancers: Truus
Cavens, Marc Vanrunxt, Diane Batens, Eric Raeves. 8 September,
Ommeganckstraat, Antwerp. Number: 3. (This composite programme
was later retitled Eerste dansvoorstelling)
Lente ’82, composite programme (45’): Dans voor vrouw in water.
Verkeerd standpunt. Herinnering. Self-organised. Music: Krysztof
Penderecki, Robert Fripp, Toru Takemitsu, Joy Division, Ultravox.
Dancers: Diane Batens, Eric Raeves, Melinda van Berlo, Marc Vanrunxt.
29 March, Ommeganckstraat, Antwerp. Number: 5. (This composite
programme was later retitled Tweede dansvoorstelling: Lente 82).
Beweging drie, composite programme (45’): Solo voor 1000 mannen, No
puedo mas, You must understand that we lived in an atmosphere of
euphoria youth and enthusiasm that can hardly be imagined today. Selforganised.
Music: Krysztof Penderecki, Brian Eno, Petula Clark.
Dancers: Marc Vanrunxt, Eric Raeves and Rena Vets. Costumes: Pol
Engels, Eric Raeves, Rena Vets, Marc Vanrunxt. 1 March, Paradox,
Antwerp. Number: 4. / Vier Korte Dansen (original title: Beweging vier)
(60’): same programme as Beweging drie, plus a fourth dance: Absolute
Körperkontrolle, to music by Johan Strauss Sr. Danced by Marc
Vanrunxt and Eric Raeves. 25 August, Ommeganckstraat, Antwerp.
Official opening: 26 October, Doornroosje, Nijmegen. Number: 40.
Poging tot Beweging (70’). Self-organised. Music: Górecki, Virgin
Prunes, Whalesongs. Dancers: Eric Raeves, Linda Swaab, Melinda van
Berlo, Cathérine Massin, Goedele De Veuster, Dale Wyatt. Costumes: Marc
Vanrunxt, Eric Raeves. 28 March, Springdance, Utrecht. Number: 40.
38 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
work / dance history
Hyena (65’). Producer: Hyena. Coproducer: Klapstuk 85. Music:
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Thierry Genicot. Dancers: Eric Raeves, Linda
Swaab, Marie-Anne Schotte, Marc Vanrunxt. Costumes: Marc
Vanrunxt. 13 March, New Dance Festival in Marstall Theatre, Munich.
Aï (80’). Producer: Hyena. Coproducer: Springdance 86. Music: collage
of pop and opera by Thierry Genicot. Dancers: Eric Raeves, Cathérine
Massin, Marie-Anne Schotte, Marc Vanrunxt, Kerstin Huygelen,
Vincent Van Duysse. Costumes: Anita Evenepoel, Marc Vreven, Eric
Raeves, Marc Vanrunxt. 19 March, Springdance, Utrecht. Number: 6.
(A danced fashion show - a special project commissioned by
Springdance. The theme was ‘The body and its packaging’) / A.Dieu
(36’). Producer: F’act, in association with Hyena. Music: Thierry
Genicot, Marie-Jeanne Wijckmans. Dancers: Eric Raeves, Marie-Anne
Schotte, Maarten Kops, Cathérine Massin, Han van Poucke (rerun),
Marc Vanrunxt. Costumes: Eric Raeves, Marc Vanrunxt. Set design:
Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven. 9 September, De Brakke Grond Amsterdam.
Ballet Battage (20’). Producer: Fashion Fashion. Music: Thierry Genicot.
Dancers: Eric Raeves, Cathérine Massin, Marie-Anne Schotte, Maarten
Kops, Lieve Hermans. Costumes: students from the fashion department
of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. 9 January, Antwerp.
Number: 20. (Choreographic contribution to fashion show on commission
to the Internationale Linen Promotion organisation, EEC.) / 1/5
(18’). Producer: Nationaal Fonds, Amsterdam. Music: Harry de Wit.
Dancer: Pauline Daniëls. Costume: Marc Vanrunxt. 14 February, ‘t
Hoogt, Utrecht. Number: 50. (A part of Geen Plek. Nergens, a fulllength
solo programme by the Dutch dancer Pauline Daniëls. The other
three choreographers were: Mark Tompkins, Viola Farber and Matthew
Hawkins. 1/5 was revived on 19 November 1989 and 3 October 1997 at
the Moving Mime Festival, Tilburg.) / Urania (25’). Producer: Nationaal
Fonds, Amsterdam. Dancer: Marc Vanrunxt. Costumes: Eric Raeves,
Marc Vanrunxt. 4 July, Zomerfestijn Amsterdam. Number: 6. (Site-specific
project in open-air amidst scrapped trains in Amsterdam’s eastern
port) / Sleeping Boys (60’). Producer: Internationaal Dansfestival, Oslo.
Coproducer: Haugesund Teater. Music: Thierry Genicot. Dancers:
Collage Dansekompani Oslo, with Kristin Gjems, Cecilie Lindeman
Steen, Nina Vaage, Mona Walderhaug and Aase With. Costumes: Eric
Raeves, Marc Vanrunxt. 19 September, Oslo. Number: 20.
39 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
Ballet in Wit (70’). Producer: Hyena. Coproducer: deSingel. Music:
Serge Verstockt. Dancers: Eric Raeves, Marie-Anne Schotte, Ria De
Corte, Mona Walderhaug, Han Van Poucke, Marc Vanrunxt. Costumes:
Eric Raeves, Marleen Schoefs, Marc Vanrunxt. Set: Anne-Mie Van
Kerckhoven. 7 September, deSingel, Antwerp. Number: 22.
Sst, de natuur is dood (15’). Producer: Hyena. Music: Mike Oldfield.
Dancer: Marc Vanrunxt. 24 March, Vrije Val, Antwerp. Number: 1. /
Victoria (11’). Producer: Hyena. Music: Thierry Genicot. Dancer: Marc
Vanrunxt. Costumes: Raphael Stesmans. 27 April, Vrije Val, Antwerp.
Number: 5. / Landmark divided by Vanrunxt. Producer: Contredanse in
association with Hyena. Music: Mike Oldfield et al. Dancers: Marc
Vanrunxt and extras. 23 July, Museum voor Kunst en Geschiedenis,
Brussels. (One-off dance installation) / Sleeping Belgium, composite programme
with Ballet in Wit (third part) and Victoria. / 1/5. Producer:
Hyena. 19 November, CC Berchem. Number: 1.
Moderne Compositie (70’). Producer: Hyena. Coproducer: CC
Berchem. Music: Thierry Genicot, with excerpts from Darius Milhaud
and Benjamin Britten. Dancers: Eric Raeves, Marie-Anne Schotte, Eddi
Bal, Laurent Haro, Marc Vanrunxt. Costumes: Eric Raeves, Marc
Vanrunxt. Set: Erik Kouwenhoven. 25 January, CC Berchem. Number:
16. / Aquarius (90’). Producer: F’Act, Rotterdam. Director: Ernst Boreel.
Music: Karel Goeyvaerts. Dancers: Eric Raeves, Marie-Anne Schotte,
Eddi Bal, Matthijs Wils, Karin Post. Costumes: Hans Klasema, Marc
Vanrunxt. Set: Hans Klasema. 5 April 1990, Stadsschouwburg,
Rotterdam. Number: 5. (Choreography for Karel Goeyvaerts’ stage cantata
Sur Scène (50’). Producer: Hyena. Music: Thierry Genicot, W.A.
Mozart, Richard Strauss. Dancer: Marc Vanrunxt. Costumes: Marc
Vanrunxt, Robert Cash, Marleen Schoefs. Set: Erik Kouwenhouven. 22
March, Vrije Val Antwerp. Number: 10.
Triomf of Dood (22’). Producer: Dansgezelschap Reflex. Music: W.A.
Mozart. Dancers: Dansgezelschap Reflex, with: Tim Galvin, Dietmar
Janeck, Klaus Jürgens and Joaquin Sabaté. Costumes: Marc Vanrunxt,
Annemiek Langen. Set: Marc Vanrunxt. 1 February, Stadsschouwburg,
Groningen. Number: 20. (On commission) / O lichaam bleek en schoon
van zondigheid (15’). Producer: Hyena. Music: Richard Strauss. Dancer:
40 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
work / dance history
Marc Vanrunxt. Costume painting: Robert Cash. 30 August, Vrije Val,
Antwerp. Number: 5. (Reworking of the first part of Sur Scène into an
independent solo. Later included in Kult-Star) / Dalida Act (20’).
Producer: Hyena. Coproducer: De Beweeging. Music: Dalida. Dancer:
Marc Vanrunxt. Costumes: Marc Vanrunxt, Robert Cash. Set: Marc
Vanrunxt, Robert Cash. 29 October, Vrije Val, Antwerp. Number: 4.
(Performance act as tribute to Gerhard Bohner. Later included in Kult-
Kult-Star (50’). Producer: Stichting van de Toekomst. Coproducer:
Hyena. Music: Dalida, Richard Strauss. Dancer: Marc Vanrunxt.
Costumes: Marc Vanrunxt, Robert Cash. Set: Robert Cash. 29 April,
Toneelschuur Haarlem. Number: 16.
The Power of Love (33’). Producer: Dansgezelschap Reflex. Music:
Górecki, Offenbach, Genicot. Dancers: Dansgezelschap Reflex.
Costumes: Annemiek Langen, Marc Vanrunxt. Set: Marc Vanrunxt. 28
April, Stadsschouwburg, Groningen. Number: 11. (This work commissioned
by Reflex was presented in a programme together with Jappe Claes
en Patrizia Tuerlings.) / Antilichaam (65’). Producer: Hyena. Music: Paul
Hindemith, Galina Ustvolskaya, Dalida. Dancers: Marc Vanrunxt, Eric
Raeves, Annamirl van der Pluijm. Costume painting: Robert Cash. Set:
Marc Vanrunxt. 17 December, CC Berchem. Number: 16.
Dies Irae (55’). Producer: Kunst/Werk for Hyena. Coproducer: De
Beweeging. Music: Jean-Baptiste Lully, Galina Ustvolskaya, Dies Irae,
Patti Smith, The Pet Shop Boys. Dancers: Marc Vanrunxt, Eric Raeves,
Rosa Hermans. Costumes: Robert Cash and Eric Raeves. Light object:
Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven. Chairs: Danny Devos. 21 September, CC
Berchem. Number: 10.
Ex-Voto (22’). Producer: Kunst/Werk for Hyena. Music: Galina
Ustvolskaya. Dancers: Marc Vanrunxt, Eric Raeves, Rosa Hermans.
Costume painting: Robert Cash. 22 May 1996, De Beweeging, Antwerp.
Number: 2. (Provisional presentation of an investigation in which the
themes from Antilichaam and Dies Irae continued to be developed,
before entering a new phase in Fortitudo) / Antwerpse Angst (11’).
Producer: Kunst/Werk for Hyena. Music: Johann Strauss. Dancer: Marc
Vanrunxt. Costume: Marc Vanrunxt, Eric Raeves. 29 June, Antwerp.
Number: 24. (Solo as part of De Beweeging Promenade, a walk through
the city taking in several dance performances. Vanrunxt performed his
41 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
solo on Sint-Jansplein, where he spent his childhood. This solo was the
basis for Persona, a video film by Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven)
Fortitudo (60’). Producer: Kunst/Werk for Hyena. Music: Patrick De
Clerck, Danny Devos, Karl Broekaert (loop of song by Lou Reed).
Dancers: Marc Vanrunxt, Eric Raeves, Annamirl van der Pluijm, Rosa
Hermans. Costumes: from Martin Margiela’s collection. Set: Danny
Devos. 30 January, CC Berchem. Number:11 (still in the repertoire). (A
provisional presentation of Fortitudo was given at the 1996 Golden
Medal of Honour award ceremony in the Flemish Parliament). /
Klassiek effect (20’). Music: Karel Goeyvaerts. Costumes: Marc
Vanrunxt. Dancers: students from the Higher Dance Institute. 29 May,
Lier. Number: 2. (A performance with the students of the Higher
Institute for Dance, in which Vanrunxt returned to the music of Karel
Goeyvaerts (cf. Aquarius). The motif of the packaged body also reappeared,
in the form of rustling plastic cocoons in which the dancers are
enveloped). / Mijn solo voor Marie (Vernietigd) (30’). Producer:
Kunst/Werk for Hyena. Coproducer: Triple X. Music: Henryk Górecki.
Dancer: Marie De Corte. Costumes: from Ann Demeulemeester’s collection.
Chairs: Danny Devos. 3 September, Triple X, Amsterdam.
Number: 9 (Solo requested by Marie De Corte, preceding a full-length
solo programme, also including work by Enzo Pezzella and Robert
Sian). Organisational partner: De Beweeging.
Antropomorf (90’). Producer: Kunst/Werk for Hyena. Music: Morton
Feldman, Karel Goeyvaerts, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Lou Reed.
Intervention: Alexander Baervoets. Dancers: Rosa Hermans, Marie-
Anne Schotte, Ineke Schrijvers, Marc Vanrunxt. Set: Marc Vanrunxt.
Costumes: from Martin Margiela’s collection. 3 March, CC Berchem,
Berchem. Number: 12. / Triptych (17’). International project.
Choreography: Private Collection. Music: Morton Feldman. Dancer:
Eva Rodenburg. Producer: Kunst/Werk for Hyena, Los bewegingstheaterwerkplaats
Maastricht, Tac Tanzprojecte Aachen. Number: 14. /
Walking on thin ice. Site-specific project during De Beweeging 1.
Dancer: Rosa Hermans. Costume: Marc Vanrunxt. Producer: De
Beweeging in coproduction with Kunst/Werk for Hyena. Organisational
partner: De Beweeging.
Antimaterie (90’). Producer: Kunst/Werk for Hyena. Music: Morton
Feldman, Henryk-Mikolaj Górecki. Dancers: Marie De Corte, Rosa
Hermans, Marie-Anne Schotte, Marc Vanrunxt. 7 January, CC
Berchem, Berchem. Number: 11. Organisational partner: De Beweeging.
42 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
work / dance history
De vier uitersten (6’). 16 mm animation by Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven,
using dance material from Vanrunxt’s Vier Korte Dansen. May, Zeno-X
Hyena. (20’) Video: Dirk Dewit. Promotional video. / Bewegend
gezelschap maakt gebaren ‘zonder melodrama’ (28’). Choreography and
video directing: Marc Vanrunxt. Producer: Theaterschool Amsterdam.
Music: Thierry Genicot. Dancers: students from the Mime Course in
Amsterdam. Costumes: Eric Raeves, Marc Vanrunxt, Marjolein Baars. /
A.Dieu. (36’) Producer: F’act. Edited excerpts: Anne-Mie van
Kerkhoven. Promotional video.
Victoria (5’). Producer: VTI. Video: Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven. Music:
Thierry Genicot. Dancer: Marc Vanrunxt. 24 June. (Video adaptation of
the choreography, commissioned by the VTI, Pas de Danse, with 5
choreographers and video film-makers).
Ballet in Wit (25’). Producer: BRTN. 12 March. (Television adaptation
of the third part of Ballet in Wit, by Dirk Grijspeirt).
Avenue de l’Hippodrome (6’). Producer: RTBF. Dancer: Marc Vanrunxt.
Costumes: Marc Vanrunxt. 23 April. (Contribution to the RTBF dance
film, J’aurais aimé vous voir danser, Madame Akarova, by Michel Jakar
and Thierry Genicot. / Fragment of the 7 veils (6’). Music: Richard
Strauss. Dancer: Marc Vanrunxt. Costumes: Robert Cash. 26 July. (Video
produced, filmed and edited by Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven. Shot in
Schilde in July 1991. Distributed by Argos, Brussels).
Persona (7’). Dancer: Marc Vanrunxt. Computer animation by Anne
mie Van Kerckhoven for the De Beweeging festival, March, Antwerp,
based on fragments from Antwerpse Angst. / Ogni Pensiero Vola (35’).
Producer: De Andere film. Coproducers: Klapstuk 97, ’t Hoogt, Vooruit,
Hyena, Audiovisuele Dienst K.U.Leuven. Video: Stefan Franck and Bart
Van Dessel. Choreography: Marc Vanrunxt and Samyrra Bafdel. 7
October, Klapstuk, Leuven. (First part of the Conceit Trilogy by Franck
and Van Dessel. De dance fragments by Vanrunxt are from Dies Irae,
Ex-Voto and Fortitudo).
43 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
Extra and dancer at the Royal Children’s Theatre in Antwerp.
Assistance and choreography for Het is theater zoals te verwachten en
te voorzien was by Jan Fabre. 16 October, Stalker, Brussels.
Dancer in Senso 2 by Cathérine Massin. Producer: Hyena. 20 November,
Movement advice for Schaamrood, a music theatre show by Rik
Hancké. Producer: De Verrukking. Coproducer: De Theaterassociatie.
Director: Frieda Ysebaert. Opening: 9 March, Schouwburg De Kring,
Dancer in Sang de chêne by Thierry Smits. 24 February, Palais aux
Beaux-Arts, Charleroi. / Concept cover for Nouvelles de Danse, 16 May
(in memory of Dalida and Gerhard Bohner.) / Danser in Da un’altra faccia
del tempo by Jan Fabre. 29 September, Lunatheater, Brussels. / Guest
performance as dancer on tour of Klein Volkslied by Truus Bronkhorst.
24 November, Felix Meritis, Amsterdam.
Dancer in Quando la terra si rimette in movimento by Jan Fabre, for
Het Nationale Ballet. 10 February, Muziektheater, Amsterdam. / Marc
Vanrunxt invited the artist Robert Cash to mount his exhibition Mors et
vita (paintings), December, Vandennestlei 11a, Antwerp.
Dancer in The Pickwick Man, full-length solo by Jan Fabre for Marc
Vanrunxt as part of The Four Temperaments, a series of solos, also with
Annamirl van der Pluijm, Wim Vandekeybus and Renée Copraij. 7
October, Klapstuk, Leuven.
Movement dramaturge for Eeuwige Lente, a dance performance by Roy
Peeters and Annelies Herfst. Opening: October. / In direct. A dance performance
with the students of the theatre course and mime course in
Amsterdam. August-September. / Guest tutor at Dasarts. Victoria,
Curator/compiler of the Beweeging 3 festival: De Taal van het
tijdelijke the art of making dances. From 3 to 7 March, CC Berchem.
44 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
Vlaams Theater Instituut, Brussels. Theater Instituut Nederland. Marc
Vanrunxt’s private archives.
This selection from the literature consulted – reviews, interviews, programmes,
personal notes from Vanrunxt’s archives, documents, general
surveys, etc. – comprises two sorts of items: those referred to in this
monograph on Vanrunxt, and a number of important writings on
Vanrunxt and the social-artistic background to his work.
Baart, Jan. ‘4 korte dansen prikkelen in ontwapende uitvoering’, in:
Haarlems Dagblad, 8 February 1984.
De Jonge, Peter and Eric Vanhaeren. ‘Het is niet omdat je een jurk
draagt dat je Pina Bausch imiteert’, in: Etcetera, March 1984, p. 61.
De Jonge, Peter, ‘Portrait de l’inconnu’, Etcetera, XVI, 64, 1998, pp. 47-48.
Génicot, Thierry. ‘Marc Vanrunxt, un parcours singulier’, in: Nouvelles
de danse, 11, May 1992, pp. 24-29.
Gielen, Pascal. ‘De sacrale gebarenstoet. Over de restauratie van het rituele
lichaam’, (text in programme for Mijn solo voor Marie
(Vernietigd)), 3 September 1997.
Gielen, Pascal, ‘Marc Vanrunxt en de restauratie van het rituele
lichaam’, in: Etcetera, 17, 67, 1999, pp. 55-58.
Korteweg, Ariejan. ‘Vanrunxt: “onbeschaafde” dans’, in: Leidsch
Dagblad, 20 September 1984.
Korteweg, Ariejan. ‘Marc Vanrunxt neemt loopje met zichzelf’, in: De
Volkskrant, 30 April 1990.
Mallems, Alex. ‘Terugblikkend naar de toekomst’, in: Magazijn, 178,
October 1988, pp. 2829.
Steijn, Robert. ‘Tu ne me seduis pas si tu vas vite’, in: Het Boek, Leuven:
Steijn, Robert. Programme leaflet for the video Bewegend gezelschap
maakt gebaren ‘zonder melodrama’, 1986.
Steijn, Robert. ‘De complexe romantiek en de Greenpeace-gedachte in
Marc Vanrunxts A.Dieu’, in: Magazijn, October 1986.
45 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
Steijn, Robert. ‘Poging tot vliegen van Marc Vanrunxt’, in: Notes,
July/August 1988, pp. 36-37.
T’Jonck, Pieter. ‘Adieu, was het maar waar’, in: De Standaard, 29
T’Jonck, Pieter. ‘Ballet in Wit van Marc Vanrunxt. Loze diepgang, loze
humor’, in: De Standaard, 9 September 1988.
Van der Jagt, Marijn. ‘Geen pijn, geen woede, geen seks, of geweld,
maar schoonheid’, in: De Groene Amsterdammer, 27 August 1986
Van Imschoot, Myriam. ‘Slow turning white flower effect. Naar aanleiding
van het recente werk van Marc Vanrunxt’, in: Dansencyclopedie,
30 January 1997, in: De Scène, February 1997, pp. 68.
Van Imschoot, Myriam. ‘Planeten en kometen’, in: De Morgen/Café des
Arts, 24 January 1997.
Van Imschoot, Myriam. ‘Planets and comets’, in: Carnet, number 13,
1997, pp. 2429.
Van Imschoot, Myriam. ‘Marc Vanrunxt danst wel met zichzelf’, in:
Gazet van Antwerpen, 1 March 1994.
Van Imschoot, Myriam. ‘Marc Vanrunxt terug van weggeweest, en
hoe!’, in: De Morgen, 27 December 1994.
Van Imschoot, Myriam. ‘Op het kruispunt van heden, verleden en
toekomst’, in: De Morgen, 27 September 1995.
Van Imschoot, Myriam. ‘Een salon van weigeraars. Over het uitblijven
van ä’, in: Etcetera, 58, December 1996, pp. 36-39.
Van Imschoot, Myriam. ‘Maken en Kraken: de rol van de criticus in de
(re)constructie van carrieres. Een korte case-study van de receptie van
Marc Vanrunxt’, Documenta, XVI, 4, 1998, pp. 346-354.
Van Schaik, Eva. ‘Marc Vanrunxt irriteert en wekt bewondering’, in:
Trouw, 10 February 1984.
Verstockt, Katie. ‘Marc Vanrunxt kijkt om: Een modespektakel en een
videoproject’, in: Etcetera, 13, 1986, p. 24.
Verstockt, Katie. ‘Beauté visuelle du Kitsch’, in: Art et Culture, 8 April
Verstockt, Katie. ‘Is dit nog ballet, is het al theater of iets helemaal
nieuws?, in: Etcetera, 1, 1983, pp. 46-48.
Baart, Jan. ‘Jonge Belgische danser Marc Vanrunxt: “We worden gek van
interpretaties in recensies”’, in: Dansbulletin, March 1984, pp. 33-37.
Baart, Jan. ‘Marc kickt op zijn stap naar buiten. Bewegingsproject
Urania op een rangeerterrein’, in: Het Parool, 4 July 1987.
Baart, Jan. ‘Elk ballet is een gevecht’, in: Haarlems Dagblad, 21
46 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
Baart, Jan. ‘Marc Vanrunxt bouwt nieuwe voorstelling op uit acht
dromen. “Iedereen streeft toch naar rust?”, in: Haarlems Dagblad, 21
Baart, Jan. ‘Toneelschuur toont dansende romanticus Marc Vanrunxt.
De reïncarnatie van Dalida’, in: Haarlems Dagblad, 1992.
Baervoets, Alexander. ‘Marc Vanrunxt: Men denkt dat Vlaanderen nu
opeens een dansscène heeft’, in: Etcetera, 11, June 1985, pp. 8-9.
Brumagne, Anne. ‘A.Dieu: de stap naar rust van Vanrunxt’, in: De
Morgen, 21 January 1988.
Cools, Guy. ‘Puzzelen met Vanrunxt. “Ik heb het gevoel dat niets, hoe
prachtig ook, echt heilig is”’, in: De Morgen, 25 January 1990.
Devoghel, Hilde. ‘Vanrunxt danst Hyena’, in: Veto, vol. 11, no. 27, 2
May 1985, p. 7.
Heirman, Frank. ‘Antwerpse choreograaf begint aan opera-project in
Nederland’, in: Gazet van Antwerpen, 24 January 1990.
Janssens, Guido. ‘Marc Vanrunxt: de economie van de beweging’, in: De
Nieuwe, 17 October 1995, pp. 26-27.
Middendorp, Jan. ‘Danser-choreograaf Marc Vanrunxt is niet meer zo
gekweld’, in: Avenue, September 1988.
Rasquin, Luc. ‘Gesprek met danser-choreograaf Marc Vanrunxt. “Niets
is wat het lijkt.”’, in: De Rode Vaan, 4 February 1988.
Slinger, Sylvia. ‘Een spel met verstand en intuïtie’, in: Notes, 6,
September 1986, pp. 16-17.
Steijn, Robert. ‘Een Poging tot Beweging’, in: Vinyl, 1985.
Van Imschoot, Myriam. ‘Koreografie is het moment waarin alles
samenkomt’, in: De Morgen, 21 September 1995.
Verduykt, Paul. ‘“Een kreet... en dan applaus”. Marc Vanrunxt over zijn
nieuwe solo Sur scène’, in: De Morgen, 22 March 1991.
Id. ‘Voorzichtige come-back als danser en koreograaf’, in: De Morgen,
22 February 1994.
Verstockt, Katie. ‘Interview’, unpublished, March 1997.
Unattributed. ‘Portret Marc vanrunxt’, in: Gazet van Antwerpen, 21
For the preparatory work on this portrait: unpublished conversations
with Marc Vanrunxt on 7 June 1997 (Leuven), 17 June 1997 (Brussels)
and 21 June 1997 (Antwerp). As well as in-depth discussions with An
Slootmaekers, Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven, Eric Raeves, Katie Verstockt,
Pieter ‘T Jonck and Peter De Jonge. I owe them, and in particular Marc
Vanrunxt for his willing assistance, much gratitude.
My particular thanks go to Marc Vanrunxt for his willing assistance. I was
allowed full use of his personal archives and work notes; he was always
ready to listen to my flood of questions.
47 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999
This is a Flemish Theatre Institute publication, in association with the Theatre
Studies departments at the four Flemish universities: U.I.Antwerp, University of
Ghent, K.U.Leuven, V.U.Brussels.
Editor in chief
Pol Arias, Annie Declerck, Ronald Geerts, Erwin Jans, Rudi Laermans,
Kristel Marcoen, Frank Peeters, Klaas Tindemans, Luk van den Dries,
Marianne van Kerkhoven, Jaak van Schoor
Photogravure and printing
Kritisch Theater Lexicon 12 e, a portrait of Marc Vanrunxt
Myriam van Imschoot
Myriam van Imschoot
Photographic portrait of Marc Vanrunxt
p. 23: Marc Vanrunxt and Stuc Leuven / p. 24: Anna Vandertaelen / p. 25:
Raymond Mallentjer and Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven / p. 26: Raymond Mallentjer.
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A translation of: Marc Vanrunxt, Vlaams Theater Instituut, Brussels, 1997
© 1999 / Registered publisher: Klaas Tindemans