Following closely the recent events concerning the open letter that was send to the Belgium press from some of my colleagues and former performers of Troubleyn/ Jan Fabre and the accusations made inside, against Fabre and the team of the company. Me, Christian Bakalov, want to testify as a former performer of Troubleyn/Jan Fabre but also as human being that was related during 3 years to Jan Fabre and his team. To whom may concern and want to know about it, I want to expose my experience working for them in this testimony. Or, should i say more precisely, not working “for” them, but, working “with” them. Because in my artistic journey of 27 years, i have worked for many people, but only with few i can say that i have worked “with” and Jan is one of those.

First of all, i want to share my sincere astonishment by the description presented in the press of the company of Troubleyn, filled with totalitarian working atmosphere, imposed silence and unspoken hurts.
My very vivid memory of the time we war creating and touring the performance “Orgy of Tolerance”, is Jan Fabre “complaining” to the audience in a public discussions organized after the performance, that “sometimes is very difficult for him to work with 9 other directors”. And even though our group age was from 23 until 47, every one of us had a possibility to say at any moment what ever he was thinking or feeling about the working process or things that was bothering in the organisation of the food, paper works or others. Of course, this was sometimes complex and loud, exiting and ecstatic , but we could not only contain and fix all the situations , but also create so strong bounds between us , that from the 6 free weeks that we had during this 1 year , we spend 3 of them all together on holidays.
Everyone that had the experience of such world tour, being long time, far away from your home, friends, family or children, will understand what means after this efforts to still want to share your life with Jan Fabre and your colleagues in your free time.
Everyone that had experienced this, will testify, that this is not possible in the working conditions describe in the letter send to Rekto/Verso and especially if the head of the company has the described disrespectful attitude towards his performers.
I don’t even want to comment the propos of Fabre being homophobe or racist . This sounds so ridiculous to me, especially knowing that is enough to see any
performance of the company made in the last 30 years to understand that Fabre was and is always defending the right to be different, of color, sexuality or believes! This is the base of our working values during all the time i was performing for him and i will never accept that some one can pretend the opposite. I never saw someone to be bullied during the working process or on tour and if there is one particularity to know of how Jan is relating to everyone without exception if you are woman, man, old or young, is that you are receiving during your communication exactly what your are sending to him. Acting as a mirror of life and society on stage, Jan Fabre also reflect perfectly the nature of his performers in order to amplify their presence on his stage. Is true that as a performer, when you start to work with this kind of directors, you better know who you are and what you want, if you want to have the most rewarding professional and human experience. And it is true, that as a person you better know yourself and who you wish to become, otherwise the reflections you will be receiving from the other side might be distorted in the prism of your own insecurity and the lack of self-knowledge and make this amazing experience a difficult and painful moment in your live.
As a performer, dancer, actor, musician, singer and for all the people that dare to expose their talents and body to the others, to accept critics is the first and most important process that is happening between the ones that watch and the others that are watched. A process essential for any art. It starts by how we judge our selfs and our work, goes by how we are judged by our colleagues and the director with who we work, pass by the professional critics and end up with the audience receiving and reacting live after each of our presentations. What is sure is that we never know how and in which shape the critics will hit on us, what is also sure, is that is important to build a capacity to receive, accept and compose with those critics. There can’t be art without critics, as they can’t be a social order or humain actions without that we are able to criticize and improve them. The only responsibility in this process is our ability to transform this critics in a positive and productive way in order the be able to achieve better things in our lives or on stage. To fail is our everyday routine and Jan Fabre has always shared with us every moment of our difficulties or moment of pain and the most of the time he was preserving us from ourselves.
I can certify, that at my knowledge, none of the dancers, singers, musicians or other staff of the crew with whom i was working during this 3 years was treated badly, with no respect or harassed sexually or psychologically.
I was never interested about what happen in the bedroom of my directors or any of my colleagues and can’t give you any details from this particular space, but as i experienced myself a sexual harassment in the beginning of my career 26 years ago i can tell you that any sign or complain that would be detected from me in someone of my colleagues will be not dismissed in silence!
I hope my testimony will help any one that read it, to understand that any experience from anyone of us is subjective but in the same time truthful for the ones who are living them. I don’t want to denigrate the subjective experiences of my colleagues, but there is simply facts that should stay as much as possible close to the reality of things and i hope my testimony will give a light on them.

Christian Bakalov