Marc Vanrunxt - depot voor het VTi

Marc Vanrunxt - depot voor het VTi







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 & 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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marc vanrunxt

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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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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marc vanrunxt

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).

8/ Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999

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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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

10 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999

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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marc vanrunxt

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-

12 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999

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,

13 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999

The aesthetics of


marc vanrunxt

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

14 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999

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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Mystification of


marc vanrunxt

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

16 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999

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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marc vanrunxt

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


marc vanrunxt

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


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

[1] Notes made by Marc Vanrunxt for Beweging vier (later Vier Korte Dansen),

August 1983, included in the Stuc programme booklet.

[2] Hyena. Choreography: Marc Vanrunxt.

New Dance Festival, Munich, March 1985.

[3] A.Dieu. Choreography: Marc Vanrunxt.

De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, September 1986.

[4] Dies Irae. Choreography: Marc Vanrunxt. Cultural Centre Berchem,

September 1995. With Marc Vanrunxt, Rosa Hermans and Eric Raeves.

[5] Printed design by Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven for Marc Vanrunxt’s Kult-

Star, April 1993.

[6] 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

marc vanrunxt

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

a Fremdkörper.

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


Lightning model

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

Dance boom

marc vanrunxt

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

Discourse on

the body


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

the soul

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

marc vanrunxt

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

marc vanrunxt

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,

Dokumenta, 1998.

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

are eliminated.

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



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.

Dance history

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

marc vanrunxt

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.

Choreographic works


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.

Number: 30.


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.

Number: 36.


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.

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marc vanrunxt


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

marc vanrunxt

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

Gallery, Antwerp.


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

marc vanrunxt



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,

CC Berchem.


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,

Ghent. April.


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


Archive material

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.

On Vanrunxt

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:

Klapstuk, 1985.

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

marc vanrunxt

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

January 1988.

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

September 1988.

46 / Kritisch Theater Lexicon - 12 e - May 1999

selected bibliography

Baart, Jan. ‘Marc Vanrunxt bouwt nieuwe voorstelling op uit acht

dromen. “Iedereen streeft toch naar rust?”, in: Haarlems Dagblad, 21

April 1990.

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

March 1991.

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

Geert Opsomer

Editorial board

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


Inge Ketelers

Photogravure and printing

Cultura, Wetteren

Print run

500 copies.

Kritisch Theater Lexicon 12 e, a portrait of Marc Vanrunxt


Myriam van Imschoot


Myriam van Imschoot

Final editing

Geert Opsomer


Gregory Ball

Photographic portrait of Marc Vanrunxt

Raymond Mallentjer


p. 23: Marc Vanrunxt and Stuc Leuven / p. 24: Anna Vandertaelen / p. 25:

Raymond Mallentjer and Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven / p. 26: Raymond Mallentjer.

Vlaams Theater Instituut vzw, Sainctelettesquare 19, 1000 Brussel,

tel: +32.2/201.09.06, fax: +32.2/203.02.05

e-mail: website:

ISBN 90-74351-19-0 — D/1999/4610/02

No part of this book may be reproduced and/or published without the prior permission

of the publisher.

The Flemish Theatre Institute is a centre for research, documentation, advice and

promotion of the performing arts. The Flemish Theatre Institute is subsidised by

the Arts Department of the Ministry of the Flemish Community and is sponsored

by the National Lottery and Océ Belgium.

A translation of: Marc Vanrunxt, Vlaams Theater Instituut, Brussels, 1997

© 1999 / Registered publisher: Klaas Tindemans

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