Jan Martens & Dance On Ensemble

any attempt will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones

“Snowflakes, leaves, humans, plants, raindrops, stars and molecules all come in communities. The singular cannot really exist”

Paula Gunn Allen

Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman’s Sourcebook

Inspired by the numerous protests around the world and the need for social solidarity and resistance to state repression, avant-garde Belgian choreographer and performer Jan Martens returns to the Athens Epidaurus Festival, this time in collaboration with the Berlin-based Dance On company. Borrowing its title from a speech delivered by Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, to the Hong Kong protesters in 2019, any attempt will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones had its premiere at the 2021 Festival d'Avignon. A production meant for a big stage, it incorporates the power of diversity as well as the co-existence of unique individualities into its very form, featuring a corps de ballet that is heterogeneous in terms of age and body type, consisting of 17 dancers aged 18-71 years old. The performance showcases each dancer’s unique, signature style within an ensemble demonstrating a joint physical and performative energy. Based on the intensely rhythmical Harpsichord Concerto by contemporary Polish composer Henryk Mikolaj Górecki, the choreography is embellished with pieces of resistance from the 1960s to this day by Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln to Kae Tempest.

Taking the phrase uttered by the Chinese president, translated and broadcast around the world in various ways, as his starting point, Martens observes that language in our times of “post-truth” serves primarily as an “ideological tool”. In addition to dancing, Martens also brings on stage language itself as a performing medium, introducing oral excerpts from Scottish writer Ali Smith’s novel Spring*, as well as online, written declarations of hatred, fragments of which are projected behind the dancers. The idea of a harmonious social co-existence may ultimately be but a utopia; we must constantly defend the possibility of being different together against the various reactionary voices.


[*Third part of the Seasonal Quartet series of novels. The Greek translation by Miltiadis Argyropoulos for Kastaniotis Editions is used in the performance.]

Jan Martens/GRIP & Dance On Ensemble - any attempt will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones from GRIP artists on Vimeo.