- Dance & performance
With Isadora Duncan, Jérôme Bel drew up the danced portrait of a choreographer for the first time, after having concentrated exclusively on the life of the dancers. For this new creation, which he describes as “auto-bio-choreo-graphic”, he lends himself to his own exercise and delivers his personal account of a life of dance.
Where the film Retrospective operated a transversal cut in the work of Jérôme Bel, this creation reconstitutes its linear logic, declined according to a necessarily subjective glance. The choreographer’s performance address, alone on stage, responds to the broadcasting of filmed archives and reactivates the memory of gestures, scores, and biographical facts that the discourse comes to put in correspondence. The eponymous project of a founding piece of his repertoire, Jérôme Bel is not so much a return to the initial point, nor even an assessment made after the fact, as a genealogy of the driving forces of his work, where the personal is linked to the artistic and political. Jérôme Bel tells his story for the first time, sharing his doubts, his commitments, his failures as well as his infatuations. Combining narrative and meaning, the piece articulates fragments of his life, his career and his intellectual project to reveal their common structures.
Text, video: Jérôme Bel
Interpretation Bucharest: Nanci – Cristian Nanculescu
Director for the Romanian version: Mihai Mihalcea
Translation: Clara Trăistaru
Performers: Frédéric Seguette, Claire Haenni, Gisèle Pelozuelo, Yseult Roch, Olga De Soto, Peter Vandenbempt, Sonja Augart, Simone Verde, Esther Snelder, Nicole Beutler, Eva Meyer Keller, Germana Civera, Benoît Izard, Ion Munduate, Cuqui Jerez, Juan Dominguez, Carine Charaire, Hester Van Hasselt, Dina Ed Dik, Amaia Urra, Carlos Pez, Henrique Neves, Johannes Sundrup, Véronique Doisneau, Damian Bright, Matthias Brücker, Remo Beuggert, Julia Häusermann, Tiziana Pagliaro, Miranda Hossle, Peter Keller, Gianni Blumer, Matthias Grandjean, Sara Hess, Lorraine Meier, Simone Truong, Akira Lee, Aldo Lee, Houda Daoudi, Cédric Andrieux, Chiara Gallerani, Taous Abbas, Stéphanie Gomes, Marie-Yolette Jura, Nicolas Garsault, Vassia Chavaroche, Magali Saby, Ryo Bel, Sheila Atala, Diola Djiba, Michèle Bargues, La Bourette, Catherine Gallant
Images: Herman Sorgeloos, Marie-Hélène Rebois, Aldo Lee, Pierre Dupouey, Olivier Lemaire, Chloé Mossessian
Video production: CND-Centre national de la danse , R.B. Jérôme Bel, Paris National Opera/Telmondis in partnership with France2, with the participation of Mezzo and Centre national de la cinématographie, Theater Hora, French Institute Alliance Française – FIAF, Jérôme Bel
Artistic consultant and executive director of R.B. Company: Rebecca Lasselin
Production Manager: Sandro Grando
Production of the show: R.B. Jérôme Bel
Local performance production: CNDB-Centrul Național al Dansului București, Iridescent 2023, – International festival of contemporary dance and other reconfigurations of the sensitive, with the support of Institut français Paris
Co-production: Ménagerie de Verre (Paris) La Commune-centre dramatique national d’Aubervilliers, Festival d’Automne Paris, R.B. Jérôme Bel (Paris). The text of the show was written as part of the Sustanable theatre? creative process, conceived by Katie Mitchell, Jérôme Bel and Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne and co-produced by STAGES – Sustainable Theatre Alliance for a Green Environmental Shift (Dramaten Stockholm, National Theater & Concert Hall Taipei, NTGent, Piccolo Teatro di Milano – Teatro d’Europa, Teatro Nacional D. Maria II Lisbon, Théâtre de Liège, Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, Croatian National Theatre Zagreb, Slovene National Theatre Maribor, Trafo Budapest, MC93-Maison de la culture de Seine-Saint-Denis), co-funded by the European Union
Thanks to : Caroline Barneaud, Daphné Biiga Nwanak, Jolente De Keersmaeker, Zoé De Sousa, Florian Gaité, Chiara Gallerani, Danielle Lainé, Xavier Le Roy, Marie-José Malis, Frédéric Seguette, Christophe Wavelet
In his early pieces (name given by the author, Jérôme Bel, Shirtology…), Jérôme Bel applied structuralist operations to dance in order to single out the primary elements from theatrical spectacle. The neutralization of formal criteria and the distance he took from choreographic language led him to reduce his pieces to their operative minimum, the better to bring out a critical reading of the economy of the stage, and of the body on it.
His interest subsequently shifted from dance as a stage practice to the issue of the performer as a particular individual. The series of portraits of dancers (Véronique Doisneau, Cédric Andrieux, Isadora Duncan…) broaches dance through the narrative of those who practice it, emphasizes words in a dance spectacle, and stresses the issue of the singularity of the stage. Here, formal and institutional criticism takes the form of a deconstruction through discourse, in a subversive gesture which radicalizes its relation to choreography.
Through his use of biography, Jérôme Bel politicizes his questions, aware as he is of the crisis involving the subject in contemporary society and the forms its representation takes on stage. In embryonic form in The show must go on, he deals with questions about what the theatre can be in a political sense—questions which come to the fore from Disabled Theater and Gala on. In offering the stage to non-traditional performers (amateurs, people with physical and mental handicaps, children…), he shows a preference for the community of differences over the formatted group, and a desire to dance over choreography, and duly applies the methods of a process of emancipation through art.
Since 2019, for ecological reasons, Jérôme Bel and his company no longer use airplanes for their travels and it is with this new paradigm that his latest performances (Xiao Ke, Laura Pante…) have been created and produced.
He has been invited to contemporary art biennials and museums (Tate Modern, MoMA, Documenta 13, the Louvre…), where he has put on performances and shown films. Two of them, Véronique Doisneau and Shirtology, are in the collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne-Centre Pompidou. Jérôme Bel is regularly invited to give lectures at universities (Waseda, UCLA, Stanford…). In 2013, together with the choreographer Boris Charmatz, he co-authored Emails 2009-2010, which was published by Les Presses du Réel.
In 2005, Jérôme Bel received a Bessie Award for the performances of The show must go on given in New York. Three years later, with Pichet Klunchun, he won the Routes Princesse Margriet Award for Cultural Diversity (European Cultural Foundation) for the performance Pichet Klunchun and myself. Disabled Theater was chosen in 2013 for the Theatertreffen in Berlin and won the Swiss “present-day dance creation” prize. En 2021, Jérôme Bel and Wu-Kang Chen received the Taishin Performing Arts Award for the performance Dances for Wu-Kang Chen.
The performance contains nudity.