The Backyard

Who are we?

The Backyard is a collective existing of 14 dancers who studied together at The Royal Conservatory of Antwerp from 2015 to 2018. The 3 years they spent studying together lies at the base of their current collaboration under the name The Backyard. During their education they got the opportunity to work with a lot of teachers and choreographers who are working in the contemporary dance field all over the world.


In 2015-2016 they worked on the performance Venn by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Damien Jalet and Iris Bouche which was shown at HETPALEIS in Antwerp.


In the second year of their study they had the opportunity to be part of the performance Grensgeval / Borderline by Guy Cassiers and Toneelhuis Antwerpen. This piece was choreographed by Maud Le Pladec and toured in Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain and France where it was performed at the Festival d'Avignon.


They ended their education with The End, a piece by Jos Baker (Peeping Tom).


In the course of the 3 years they performed as a group in pieces by Agostina d'Alessandro, Anton Lachky, Gregory Caers & Yves Thuwis-De Leeuw (Nevksi Prospekt) and Rosas.


Samuel Baidoo

Belgium, 1992

Samuel studied Illustration and Graphic Design at Sint-Lucas Antwerp before studying Dance at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. Currently he is working freelance as a dancer for Nat Gras, Agostina D'Alessandro and Tuur Marinus. He makes his own choreographic work including a solo De zonnekoning and It’s Gonna Be Horse the first creation of The Backyard. In 2011 he co-founded the Hanafubuki Collective where the focus lies on multi-disciplinary work. On the side he works freelance as an illustrator and as a teacher and/or choreographer for Dansstudio Arlekino, Dansstudio Arabesque and Wisper.

Klára Ešnerová

Czech Republic, 1993

Klára graduated from the Duncan Centre Conservatory in Prague. She then went to study in multiple schools like the Escola Superior de Dance in Lisboa, BCDA Hungary and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Eventually she graduated in 2018 at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. She is working now as a freelance dancer, teacher and choreographer. Currently, is Klára working on her new project in Prague, where she's got a residence in the theatre for contemporary arts. She worked with choreographers as Saju Hari, Micha Purucker, Lenka Flóry and more.

Daan Jaartsveld

the Netherlands, 1995

Daan started his dance training at Boysaction. After that he studied 2 years dance at ArtEZ in Arnhem. He then switched schools to study dance at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp, at which he graduated in 2018. Currently Daan is working and touring as a freelance dancer. He works for a.o. Maud Le Pladec in the perfromance Twenty-seven Perspectives. 

Machias Bosschaerts

Belgium, 1994

Machias started dancing ballet at the age of six and joined De!kunsthumaniora as a free student at the age of 18. There he got the chance to perform in pieces by Min Hee Bervoets, Tony Vezich and Filip Van Huffel. He went on to study at the Royal Conservatory Antwerp to graduate in 2018. Within The Backyard Machias designed the costumes for the first production It’s Gonna Be Horse. Currently Machias is working as a teacher for Ballet- en dansacademie Pas De Chat (Nijlen), Dansparant (Mechelen), Dansstudio Arlekino and Dansstudio Arabesque (Antwerp).

Júlia Godino Llorens

Spain, 1996

Júlia studied the 6 years of the Contemporary Dance Professional Degree at the Conservatory Institut del Teatre from Barcelona. Concurrently she studied 2 years sciences. After graduating from the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp she joined The Backyard collective. She recently premiered the duet Picnic on the Moon with Alexa Moya Panksep which has been performed at the To Be Festival Antwerp, May Day May Day Festival Ghent and in Lorraine, France. Meanwhile she is working for the company Kopseer, for their next performance Gedachtegang.

Hernán Mancebo Martínez

Spain, 1990

Hernán was born in Granada. He began his career of movement in martial arts (Kung Fu), after years of practice and learning he became a Kung Fu teacher. After 6 years in Martial Arts he began his career as a contemporary dancer at the “Reina Sofia Conservatory of Granada.” Two years later he entered the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. Currently Hernán works freelance as a dancer for Agostina D'Allesandro. On the side he is still teaching Kung Fu and different trainings based on “The movement culture“.

Pieter Desmet

Belgium, 1996

Pieter graduated in 2015 from the Kunsthumaniora in Brussels, after which he went on to study at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp where he graduated in June 2018. Currently he is working with Ultima Vez / Wim Vandekeybus, touring the with TRACES and Hands do nottouvh your precious Me.

He has performed for diverse makers such as Ricardo Ambrózio (Untamed Productions), Min Hee Bervoets (HNDRD) and Lotte Boonstra.

Parallel he has been creating his own work around his research "the body as the manifestation of the identity" and in 2019 he co-created Persona with Steffi Mennen and Jonathan De Maeyer. He teaches internationally in multiple schools for a.o. the Kunsthumaniora Brussel, the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp and PerformAct.

Aki Iwamoto

Japan, 1992

Aki has been dancing since she was 16 years old. After a nine year practice in the martial arts Kendo and a prize-winning cheer-dance experience, she continued a dance education in Tokyo where she graduated from the Japan Women’s College of Physical Education in March 2015. While she was a student in Tokyo she also took lessons with Takiko Iwabuchi and Saburo Teshigawara. She graduated from the Royal Conservatory Antwerp in June 2018. Currently, she works for Maud Le Pladec as a performer in Twenty-seven Perspectives. Her personal creations include the solo a=z and the group piece Human of Dummies.

Margot Masquelier

France, 1995

After completing a higher education of Classical Dance in Toulouse she began working as a freelance dancer for a.o. Les Gens-Charles Company with whom she performed HB12. After which, she then completed a technical skills diploma in Ballet, Contemporary and Jazz. Margot continued on to the Junior Company of CobosMika formation in Spain for one year and then joined the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp in 2017. This is the place where she met Pieter Desmet. Since then she performed in two of his creations: as sweet as it gets and in Desolate Dreams for the art festival ‘MoMenT’ in Belgium. In 2018 she worked with Ricardo Ambrózio on a piece called Bare and also on the repertory piece Satyagraha from Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Alexa Moya Panksep

Spain, 1997)

Alexa studied at the Conservatory of Barcelona, Institut del Teatre, where she graduated. In 2015 she continued her studies at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp obtaining the Dance Bachelor Degree. She is currently working as a freelance artist, interested in both dancing and developing her own work. Within The Backyard she has created a duet with Julia Godino, Picnic on the Moon which premiered at the Festival To Be in Antwerp and at the Festival Sismògraf in Catalunya, and is now touring through Belgium and Spain.

Recently Alexa has been busy with the creation of the piece ‘’l’OBC balla Ravel’’ by Antonio Ruz, with the new piece “Mujeres” by Carolina Garcés Pellejero and she is also participating as a performer with the company Wreckless Sleepers in the performance “With All We Know”.

Bianca Zueneli

Italy, 1993

Bianca began studying modern dance at a young age and during her youth continued experimenting various disciplines such as figure skating, acrobatics and aerial silks. She studied Set Design at the Venice Academy of Fine Arts, but her passion for dance drove her to Brussels, where she trained in various contemporary dance techniques. She then entered the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, and graduated in 2018. Currently she works as a freelance dancer in different creations: Les Pêcheurs de Perles by FC Bergman at the Opera of Antwerp, WAG"the new piece by Ayelen Parolin in Brussels and for Zehra Proch in Marseille (France). In the last few years she started creating her personal work and since 2017 she is a coach and teacher at KunstZ Academy in Antwerp.

© The Backyard vzw 2020

Meike Stevens

the Netherlands, 1993

Meike studied Italian Language & Culture at Utrecht University. She completed her dance education at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp. She danced in a duet choreographed by Zoe Leduc at Dansateliers Rotterdam (One Night’s Dance 2016). After her education she joined WArd/waRD - Ann van den Broek for the creation of Blueprint on Memory. She joined The Backyard in december 2018.

Pauline Van Nuffel

Belgium, 1997

In 2013 Pauline started the dance education at de!Kunsthumaniora in Antwerp. After graduating in 2015 Pauline continued her dance education at the Royal Conservatory Antwerp. In the second year of her education she went on an Erasmus program to the Iceland University of the Arts. In the third year she continued her education in Iceland to finish her bachelor there. The first part of the year she did two month internship with the Icelandic Dance Company, were she worked on two pieces for the festival: Norður og Niður. One with Alexander Roberts and Ásrún Magnúsdóttir: The Great Gathering and one by Erna Omarsdóttir: At dusk, we embrace. As a graduation project she performed the piece End of an era which was created with Katrín Gunnarsdóttir. Currently Pauline is freelance dancer and helping with the productional part of The Backyard. She is also teaching and creating a choreography for Dansschool Nathalie Dierickx vzw and choreographing for a musical in Sint-Jan Berchmanscollege in Brussels.


Sumalin Gijsbrechts

Board of Directors:

Sumalin Gijsbrechts, Yasemin Kandemir & Nele Vanhaeverbeke

Daily Board:

Meike Stevens, Pauline Van Nuffel, Pieter Desmet, Júlia Godino Llorens & Bianca Zueneli


Pauline Van Nuffel

Finances & Administration:

Pieter Desmet

Daan Jaartsveld

Meike Stevens