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© 2021 - Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski - Lucilia Caesar
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False Start

The show must go on!

False Start Music theatre Performance

False Start

The show must go on!

In the form of a show, the last four participants compete in the final event: a sprint. These finalists, who are not athletes, have forty minutes to prepare. Once they are in the game, there is no way of escaping the merciless running of time: they have to train, tirelessly repeating the exit from the starting blocks to avoid the dreaded false start, which is sanctioned by immediate disqualification. The stakes are high: you have to resist exhaustion, you have to win over the public and survive the pressure. There will be only one winner.
A White Rabbit, both referee and showman, master of ceremonies and master of time, comments, encourages and above all sanctions. Faced with the Promethean dream of a sacred victory – with its notions of competition, speed, performance or success at all costs, so representative of our time, False start explores our relationship with failure as much as with the impulse to transcend ourselves. And it does so in a game that is cruel, joyful and offbeat.

False Start premiered in August 2022 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

In 2018, the company created a “flash” version (5 minutes) for the award ceremony of XL 10 Miles marathon (Brussels), then a short version (20 minutes) for the festival Court toujours – NEST-CDN Thionville (France) and XS Théâtre National Brussels).


Conception and direction: Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski
Assistant & artistic collaboration: Manolo Sellati
Costumes: Satu Peltoniemi
Sound design: Marc Appart
Lighting & stage management: Jan Maertens
Performers: Jeanne Dailler, Aurélien Dubreuil-Lachaud, Pierre Gervais, Ninon Perez, Laurent Staudt
Choreographic collaboration: Nadine Ganase
Production supervisor: Pauline Bernard / Quai 41

Production: Lucilia Caesar
Supported by: Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, WBI

Collaboration (previous versions) : Johannes Vanbinnebeek, Renaud Carton, Thomas Turine


Humour parodique (et tendre) pour clôturer la soirée (…) On y voit 4 acteurs/danseurs (oubliez les catégories avec Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski) mimer la concentration terrible d’un 100m de Jeux olympiques, avec les petits rituels de lutte contre l’angoisse et une touchante tension vers la perfection.

(Rtbf, Christian Jade, 03/2019)


Avec quatre danseurs sur les starting-blocks, Faux départ sonde notre rapport à la compétition et au ratage en prenant pour source le célèbre faux départ d’Usain Bolt en 2011.

(Le Thi-Pass, 09/2020)


I came with few preconceived notions of what it should be. And I was quickly swept away by the complete sensory experience on offer. The body becomes a well-oiled machine rather than a thinking, feeling, fallible person. (…) People make mistakes; the body breaks—as ​False Start ​is keenly aware.​ That is the universal idea at the heart of the piece, moving beyond the body as a vehicle for either success or failure in sport. It is not something that should be pushed to perform and achieve perfection. In that respect, von Wantoch Rekowski is successful.

(EdFringeREVIEW****, Eve Connor, 06/08/2022)


The show’s initial scene depicting this event utilises sound design, alongside choreography and body language, to brilliantly portray the overwhelming tension and subsequent crushing disappointment of athletic failure.

(EdFringeREVIEW, Clementine Scott 06/08/2022)


The sweaty rituals of high-performance athletics are examined in an exhilarating physical show, while an immersive noir film/soundscape takes you on a trip to hell.
(…) As the sound of thumping heartbeats bleeds into pulsing techno, False Start finds the machine in these rehearsed, repeated behaviours – how dedicated, fanatical training can turn bodies into robots. But it also reveals the sheer humanity of it all: the physical pain in the name of transcendence, the mental strain of pushing past the limit in the name of glory, the rush of euphoria if – and only if – it all pays off. (…) as the performers tire, their limbs finding looser movements, the audience urges them on. In turn, it asks us to reflect: what does it mean to win?

(The Scotsman****, Katie Hawthorne, 08/08/2022)


Best of all is when, lit by Jan Maertens’ simple, striking lighting, the four convulse into slow-motion tableaux: faces smeared with desire, limbs bent back, nails scratching into the fabric of a competitor’s shirt. It’s grotesque and biblical and exhilarating – a complex testament to the human need for speed.

(The Scotsman****, Katie Hawthorne, 08/08/2022)


Mesmerising physical theatre is as repetitive as it is riveting !
The four perfomers) captivate the audience with their repetitive, rhythmic movement and alongside the immersive soundtrack from Marc Appart create something it is impossible to stop watching. It is a carefully choreographed piece of physical theatre focussing on the repeated sequences sprinters take to prepare for their ten seconds on the track (…) the result is a show which has you on the edge of your seat as it builds to its crescendo – who will make the false start?

(Wee Review, Aisling Fisher, 09/08/2022)


This physical theatre production turns the sprinter’s dreaded false start into a psychological horror show, as four performers square off against each other. A hypnotic choreography is created from stretching, tuck jumps and other warmups, precise foot strikes and sporting bravado, with the athletes raising their arms and bidding us to rally them.

(The Guardian, Chris Wiegand, 10/08/2022)


L’entraînement acharné, minutieux, le dépassement de soi, l’envie d’envol et l’accident qui nous ramène au sol, autant d’éléments “aussi fascinant qu’effrayants” avec et à travers lesquels la metteuse en scène décompose-recompose le drame qui se joue quand un le faux départ réduit à néant des années de sacrifice. Faire de la grammaire sportive un langage théâtral était une aventure pleine d’embûches. « À nouveau, c’est la musique qui m’a sauvée. La structure de la fugue. » Et l’engagement impressionnant d’un quatuor d’actrices et acteurs épousant cet univers de la performance émaillé de clins d’œil mystiques.

(Libre Belgique, 11/08/2022, Marie Baudet)


A fascinating kaleidoscope of actions. For a modern dance piece it is unusually non-abstract. Instead, the choreography, in collaboration with Nadine Ganase, is explicit and filled with clarity as it explores the minutiae of the athlete’s movements, impressing them upon us in repeated motifs and floor patterns as variations up a theme. The effect is to create a fascinating kaleidoscope of actions. As the images change so does the music and the tension ebbs and flows, at times interspersed with comic poignancy. Although rooted in the heartache and disappointment of a track event False Start is also a metaphor for life and as such takes on a depth beyond its surface portrayal.

(Broadway Baby****, Richard Beck, 15/08/2022)

Dates / Venues


©Raoul Gilbert
 ©Antoine Porcher
 ©Alice Kohl




FAUX DEPART | FALSE DEPART- Interview with Jeanne Dailler

FAUX DEPART | FALSE DEPART- Interview with Pierre Gervais

FAUX DEPART | FALSE DEPART- Interview with Ingrid von Wantoch-Rekowski

FAUX DEPART | FALSE DEPART- Interview with Laurent Staudt

FAUX DEPART | FALSE DEPART- Interview with Ninon Pérez