Jan Martens – Rule of Three “superb experimental mix”

Rule of Three. Photo by Phile Deprez

In Rule of Three, Belgian choreographer Jan Martens blends storytelling with live music to create a night-club vibe combined with the feeling of getting lost in the pages of a book, with the result of a stunning dance piece that defines itself as something in between a concert and a narration.

A succession of dance tableaux unfolds and surprises at every turn, short scenes unrelated that can be compared to a Facebook wall or news website, giving impressions of the profusion of information we are constantly subjected to. Rule of Three is an immersive experience about the inability to write and describe the hectic world we live in.

American drummer and producer NAH sets the score for the entire performance mixing live and programmed drums with manipulated sounds, establishing a unique atmosphere where music, lights and movement, interact and overlap in a superb experimental mix.


Loud hardcore music pervades the stage while three dancers wander around with spidery robotic movements, their bodies intersect and twist through little jumps and repeated dance sequences. The overall atmosphere is of a cheerful joy, conveyed by the brightness of their costumes and the lively rhythm.

Another section sees dancers wobbling and swaying in a continuous flow of gestures executed in canon and reiterated over and over, like a machine gear, eliciting a sense of reflective calm. Their dance is hypnotic, spaced out by a slow-paced rhythm. The whole performance focuses on the idea of contrast, alternating moments of stillness and explosion, reflection and instinct.

Courtney Robertson’s solo is particularly remarkable as she takes over the stage performing a club-like dance, with dramatic and sometimes ironic facial expressions and wide-eyed gaze to the audience. Steven Michel and Julien Josse, Martens’ long-term collaborators, are also exceptional in their ability to connect with the spectator.

Towards the end, they strip off their clothes and saunter around the stage, stopping to join their bodies in improbable poses – a bold unconventional scene that places the human being at the centre and leaves the audience with a feeling of genuine reassurance.

Photos byPhile Deprez  (top row) and Joeri Thiry ( (bottom row)

Reviewed at Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells on 20 October by Francesca Marotto