Accused by twelve ex-collaborators of his dance company, between 2002 and 2018, the Belgian choreographer and visual artist faces up to five years in prison.
The Belgian artist and choreographer Jan Fabre, tried for sexual harassment, put the “naked body” at the center of its performance “radicals”he is demanding in his work, but “is not a criminal”his lawyer pleaded on Friday. “The case has been derailed, the presumption of innocence has been violated, my client caricatured (…) he is not a criminal who should be incarcerated”, launched Eline Tritsmans before the criminal court of Antwerp. The lawyer also expressed “deep regrets” of his client towards those whom his attitude may have offended.
Caught up by the #metoo wave in 2018, the famous 63-year-old visual artist, exhibited throughout Europe, is judged for “workplace violence, harassment or sexual harassment” with regard to 12 ex-collaborators of his Troubleyn dance company, as well as for a “molestation” against one of them. He disputes the charges. On March 25, the first day of the trial, which he chose not to attend, he was portrayed by the civil parties as a tyrannical man at work, regularly humiliating the dancers in rehearsal, and even blackmailing some of them at sexual character. “No sex, no solo”summarized one of the accusers, in the open letter that sparked the scandal in September 2018.
Three years in prison
After the damning portrait painted in court, three years in prison were required against the artist by the prosecutor, who judged the testimonies of the victims. “particularly believable”. Friday, before the court puts its judgment under advisement, the word was with the defense. His lawyer Eline Tritsmans admitted the “strong character” of Jan Fabre, the fact that working with him at Troubleyn “It’s intense, it’s giving 100%” in grueling stage performances: “With this essential place of the naked body, of the body in metamorphosis, we are aiming for real exhaustion, real emotions”. But, insisted the lawyer, all “performers” collaborating with him know “this context “Fabian” particular”. “It’s not about helpless minors who are abused here, but about strong, educated women who choose to go and do radical dance with Jan Fabre”said Eline Tritsmans. “We presented him as a God who does not accept annoyance, it does not stand up!”she protested. “He is the driving force (of the company), but gives a lot of room for individual freedom”.
The charges relate to the period 2002-2018. It was in June 2021 after three years of investigation that the Antwerp Labor Auditor, a specialized section of the public prosecutor’s office, decided to refer Jan Fabre to criminal justice. He faces up to five years in prison.
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