chantal yzermans
chantal yzermans
< radical low productions

Chantal Yzermans is a Belgian choreographer and researcher, currently living in Paris.

After her studies at the Royal Conservatory Antwerpen, Chantal moved to New York City in 2000.

As a dancer she studied daily for 6 years with Merce Cunningham and his company in New York.

In 2009 Jan Fabre offered Chantal an artistic residency at his venue Troubleyn / Laboratorium in Antwerpen, belgium.

There she created Radical Low, the performance ensemble; continuing a permanent search of cooperation and presentation context for dance.



Chantal Yzermans incorporates The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Géricault, a dark yet key work from the early 19th century, into a video installation and performance in situ. The two dimensional nature of painting implied that Géricault had to synthesise the catastrophic string of events of the nautical disaster into a unique and suggestive moment. To visualise reality, a painter can only exploit a fragment of a whole sequence of activities.

As a choreographer, Yzermans unfolds this historical narrative according to the four dimensions that are characteristic of the medium of dance and performance. To do this, she opts for a solo in which the sequence of movements is determined by the poses of the castaways in this iconic painting. The existential despair, moreover, culminates in the radical design of her performance space. This is reduced to a narrow, sloping platform with a specific angle : Thirty Three Degrees.

The catastrophic colonial expedition to Senegal and Géricault’s representation of it had far-reaching political implications. Obviously, the castaways were the playthings of the destructive forces of nature at sea, but even more markedly, they had become victims of the disastrous policy of their rulers. The rudderless raft became the equivalent of the French government’s administrative incompetence. Chantal Yzermans expresses this conflict around power and submission in the diagonal orientation of the stage. It recalls the theory of slanted order ( l’oblique) developed in the 1960s by Claude Parent and Paul Virilio. By introducing slanted axes in architecture and urbanisation, they reacted against the the tyranny of spatial organisation  imposed by the ruling power.  We thus encounter a similar conceptualisation of power structures in Thirty Three Degrees in the design of the stage. Because of the slope, the body is continually subject to gravity and is constantly set in motion. The diagonal axis, however, disrupts balance more than it provides stability. In this way, the dancer is in permanent state of resistance-remaining passive is not an option here. Yzermans regards her work as a procession carried out by a solitary person. gradually, she propels herself through transforming poses from the bottom of the platform to its uppermost edge. At the same time, several cameras record her progress. Frontal, lateral and zenital camera angels create a parallel to the compositional complexity  of the original painting. With close-ups, Yzermans refers to Géricault’s preparatory oil sketches, which he used to zoom in on details. Yet, however closely you examine the painting, nowhere will you detect the presence of a female form. Thus, Yzermans involuntarily inhabits the skin of a male protagonist during her performance. Yves De Mey's soundscape pierces this masculine universe jus as subtly. Among other things, he draws inspiration from  Gluck’s opera Iphiginea, the main actor in a tragic, family drama, in which the misery begins with the Trojan War and fate is sealed by a shipwreck.

This performance is a deliberate physical struggle and the figures’ original poses evolve into expressive distortions. Because of the play of forces on the slanted altar, a perfect imitation of the poses in the painting is not feasible. Within the aesthetic model of neoclassicism, Géricault’s representation of bodies as seen as inelegant-according to the norm of the ideal, there was only room for elevated beauty in the formal language of the time. This robust accentuation  of physicality was not alien to Géricault’s  sources of artistic inspiration, such as Michelangelo or Rubens, and it was accompanied by the striking deployment of light and shadow. With a clever variation on this chiaroscuro, Yzermans arrives at the same dramatisation of her performance. The surface upon which she moves is made in such a way that every bodily contact leaves behind a shadow, however briefly. Physical existence thus slides into immaterial inscription. The appearance and disappearance, presence and absence of the body give rhythm to the whole, until the contours finally merge with the fading light. ― Stef Van Bellingen

Concept Video / Performance  Chantal Yzermans
Sound Design Video  Yves De Mey
Sound Design Live Performance  Yannick Franck
Commissioned By Jan Fabre & Joanna De Vos for Het Vlot Oostende / Mu.Zee
Design Platform  Samyra Moumouh
Cinematography  Guido Verelst/ Joris Ceupens
Production  Radical Low

Performance History
Het Vlot_Muzee 2017, Oostende (BE)
Troubleyn Laboratorium 2019, Antwerpen (BE)

Photography Aleksei Kazantsev

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NO BOLERO (2016)

Questioning the interpretation of a work of art and where does the originality of a piece stand, the focus is to join into a continuous dialogue with our artistic research and engagement on appropriation, the idea of originality, the relation between power and creativity, technology and art, dreams as intellectual property.

Chantal Yzermans' question puts at stake our own statement regarding an iconic piece of art: what we see through it, or what we are driven to see.  In NOBOLERO, Yzermans  misappropriates and even challenges the artistic movement as she reduces it to fragments, discharging the choreography from all its references, in order to extract its pure essence.  The result of connecting Dance with a Scientific research on sleep and the origins of dreams, brings a hypnotic performance, which leads us to an ancestral ritual.  Constantly navigating between reality and imagination, this personal quest drives us into the origins of mankind and our own identity, beyond the intellectual appropriation of a piece of art.

Concept  Chantal Yzermans
Original Music  Bolero by Maurice Ravel
Lecture Performance  Dr. Joelle Adrien
Costume Design  Jean Paul Lespagnard
Light Design  Elke Verachtert / Chantal Yzermans
Dramaturgy  Mark Geurden / Koen Bollen
Production  Radical Low

Jan Fabre/Troubleyn (BE)
Kultuurfaktorij Monty (BE)
Takt Dommelhof (BE)

Kunstencentrum Vooruit (BE)
Teatros del Canal (SP)

Performance History
Monty Kunstencentrum, Antwerp (BE)
Centre Pompidou Metz, Metz (FR)

Photography  Laetitia Bica

TOTEM 1942 (2014)

During ART International Istanbul 2014, Yzermans was invited to present an intervention based on the appropriation of TOTEM ANCESTOR a solo dance work made and performed by the American choreographer Merce Cunningham in 1942. Cunningham made this solo for himself in 1942, in the spring of his talent as a soloist, on a musical composition made by John Cage.

Transforming the legal restrictions surrounding the intellectual properties of this solo by Merce Cunningham, this  solo was danced by Yzermans in a private space in Istanbul while the auditory/breathing interpretation of this performance was shared publicly during the ARTinternational Istanbul and through live streaming.

Concept & Performance Chantal Yzermans
Based on the Solo Performance Totem Ancestor by Merce Cunningham (1942)
Commissioned By ART International Istanbul 2014
Performance History ART International Istanbul, Turkey (TU)

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PARTNER / YOU (2013)

The voice you hear during the performance is an instant and direct interaction call from an online sex internet website. Its robotic crude vibrations emerge from the same brutal pulsions on which Stravinsky's Rite of Spring are rooted. From today's sexual web communication back to the archaïc ritual of procreation, there is a continuum link, the link where time and space unfurl into the dance of the universe. During the performance, the dancer is online with a direct messaging website, through which people are connected at random.

This type of game brings a rhythm of gamble, as we never know who will be the chosen partner , at the same time that it designs the rhythm of the whole piece.A triangular relationship is thus created between the two performers, the audience and the anonymous partner/partners. Through this contemporary rite, Chantal Yzermans looks back on the primitive one of Stravinsky's Rite, she finds here a continuity with the pagan ritual, together with the original musical composition of the Madrilene minimal techno artist Substuff.

Premiere Festival Escena Contemporanea Madrid  February 2013
Concept  Chantal Yzermans
Dance Chantal Yzermans
Guest Performer  Carlos Aires
Music  Sacre du Printemps (Stravinsky)
Original Music  Substuff
Designer Jean Paul Lespagnard

With The Support Of
Stad Antwerpen 2013
Festival Escena Contemporanea (Madrid)
Flanders House Madrid

In Collaboration With
Jan Fabre / Troubleyn Antwerpen (BE)
Teatro Danza Canal Madrid (ES)
Kunstencentrum Vooruit Gent (BE)
Monty Kunstencentrum (BE)

Performance History
LOOP City Screen 2018, Barcelona (S)
Festival Casabanchel 2017, Madrid
(S) Cultuurcentrum Grote Post, Oostende (BE)
Coup de Ville 2016, St Niklaas (BE)
Cultureel Centrum, St Niklaas (BE)
Circulo Bellas Artes, Madrid (S) 
M_HKA Museum for Contemporary Art Antwerpen, (BE)
December Dans 2015, Brugge (BE)
Le Careau du Temple, Paris (FR)
Troubleyn Jan Fabre, Antwerpen (BE)
Monty Kunstencentrum Februari, Antwerpen (BE)
Bruno Glint Gallery, London (GB)
Festival Escena Contemporanea, Madrid (S)

Top Photo  Laetitia Bica
Middle Photo Ronald Stoops
Bottom Photo Video Screen Shot

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GUNS / ROSES (2011)

Guns / Roses is a creation based on the sport of athletics, made for one female dancer and one male soprano. Movement is the anchor, the base of it all, in which this work is confided : in its honesty and self-sufficiency. As for the color of this choreography, it is inspired by the inner personality of each performer, dancer Chantal Yzermans versus violinist and male soprano Hans Van Kerckhoven. Spanish fashion designer, Ana Locking, took a sample of her own blood and replicated it onto fabric. What seems like baroque images are but a macro photo of her red and white globules flowing through her blood.

Premiere  Casa Encendida Madrid  February 2011
Choreography  Chantal Yzermans
Scenography  Chantal Yzermans
Dance  Anastasia Savitsky 
Violin / Voice  Hans Van Kerckhoven

With The Support Of 
Vlaamse Gemeenschap 2011
Stad Antwerpen
Festival Escena Contemporanea, Madrid
Flanders House Madrid

Performance History
Festival Escena Contemporanea Madrid, Madrid (S)
Festival Rencontre Choregraphique Seine Saint Denis, Paris (FR)

Photography  Ronald Stoops

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Arena / Act Three is an in situ creation for Jan Fabre / Troubleyn Laboratorium. It was created for two dancers from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, based on the sport of wrestling. A research between movement in sports and movement in dance, which leads to a deeper look into the nature of performance, with 'movement' as the protagonist. The experiment to introduce the language of sports stimulates to create and sign another sensitivity in the choreographic work.

Choreography / Scenography  Chantal Yzermans
Dancers  Rashaun Mitchell & Silas Riener
Premiere  Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales, Paris, May, 2010

With The Support Of
Jan Fabre / Troubleyn, Antwerpen (BE)
Monty Arts Center-Antwerpen (BE)

Performance History
Amperdans Festival, Antwerpen (BE)
Rencontres Choregraphiques Internationales, Seine Saint Denis, Paris (FR)

Photography  Ronald Stoops

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The performance is a contemporary portrait inspired by Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonate Opus 106. The score was created by the composer at the end of his life, during the turning point of Classicism and Romanticism. So it is with An Angry Boy / Act Two, unfolding into two conflictual registers the choreographer finds herself as a creator anno 2008 into a new vacuum : on the threshold of what is established and what is yet to become. Together with the dark and haunting post-punk fashion designer Andrea Cammarosano, they create An Angry Boy / Act Two.

Choreography / Scenography  Chantal Yzermans
Dance  Chantal Yzermans
Premiere Amperdans Festival 2008 Antwerpen
Live Sculpture  Nono Pesoa
Costume Design  Andrea Cammarosano
Music Hammerklavier Sonate by Ludwig Van Beethoven  
Piano Adriaan Jacobs

With The Support Of
Jan Fabre / Troubleyn Antwerpen (BE)
Monty Kunstencentrum (BE)
The City of Antwerpen (BE)

Performance History
Chez Bushwick, Brooklyn (USA)
Instituto Cervantes, Dancing Roads 2013, Bremen (D)
Monty Kunstencentrum, Antwerpen (BE)
Amperdans Festival, Antwerpen (BE)

Photography Ronald Stoops