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Flash First Person, 3-1: On the Road
'ONR-I, allegory of night' and Life

By Chantal Yzermans
Copyright 2007 Chantal Yzermans

(Editor's note: We asked the author, who now creates in Antwerp and Berlin after five years in New York, where her season runs tonight through Saturday at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, to comment on the influence of space on her work.)

ANTWERP -- To travel from place to place and find fresh green pasture to survive and continue the artistic research: this is the characteristic related to my lifestyle.

Although I started my education as a dancer in Belgium, the great turn for me was coming to New York with its dance community pulsating like nowhere else; mainly, the city itself, opening a wider scope, to a different and enriching vision of the world, like food for the senses.

NY urban life transmitted a whole new freedom to my mind. Whether on a full-merit scholarship at the Merce Cunningham Studio, or artist in residence at Movement Research (2002), it only enriched that creative impulse in me.

Having nourished myself from the vast variety of the urban faune life in NYC, during five years of my life, my coming back to Europe in 2006 was obviously transformed.

In Antwerp, in fact, I continue to be in touch with all the people I knew and worked with in NY, like Cheryl Therrien, Ashley Chen or Litsa Kiousi from Athens.

As a base, my house in Antwerp is large enough to be able to invite these dancers and other artistic collaborators from different nationalities to stay. The New Yorkers, being exceptionaly good and commited to a unique faith and dedication for art, live on the contrary like ants in large swarms. Studios to rehearse are much cheaper in Europe, too.

Radical Low, the collaborative in which we work, has its official seat in Antwerp.

It is a very young collective applying for arts grants in Belgium and in other countries of the European Community.

These financial supports are currently not generous enough and they take such a long time to get, but they do help to move on.

"ONR-I, allegory of night" has also been supported by funds from the Danspace Project Commissioning Initiative 2006-2007.

Currently, I travel in between Germany and Belgium since I work with two performers living in Berlin -- one actor, Marco Wittorf and one dancer, Litsa Kiousi.

"ONR-I, allegory of night" started as a work-in-progress in Berlin at Dock 11, with a French actress, Stephanie Lupo and a French videographer, Sylvie Zade-Routier.

An artistic residency at Buda Arts Center in Kortrijk, Belgium, made this work grow into a longer, more intense work.

The original cast has evolved since its initial spark in Berlin.

In NY, at Danspace Project, it is presented with live music by Koen Lybaert.

The theatrical design has also evolved, with the collaboration of French visual artist Martine Schildge.

And Cheryl and Ashley will complete the cast, which means fresh motivations for me.

Traveling to different countries and working in different spaces had -- and has every time -- an impact on my work.

To practice and design performances in different or new environments, different cities -- like this time at Danspace Project -- places the physical features of "ONR-I, allegory of night" into new situations and artistic challenges. It becomes part of the anatomical life of Radical Low and its collaborative.

But the core is the artists itself, who create an build up the heart of the work.

Whichever city or conditions we are in, the goal remains the capacity of growing into my own work as an independent artist.


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