$15 – $29
“We have to be open to new performers, new behaviors, new cultures.” Jérôme Bel
“Gala forces audience expectations to the fore, and blurs the lines between failure and success in performance as it suggests that theater is community, both onstage and off. It’s a tour de force, wildly entertaining, and through the deliberate exploitation of conventional form, truly radical.” Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times
A spectacle where the act of dancing, or the act of trying to dance, is celebrated, Gala showcases the desire to dance without complexes.
About twenty dancers take the stage, from professional dancers to first timers—including children, teenagers, pensioners, people with disabilities. Interpreting a series of dances across a range of eras, their performances reveal each person’s desire to move, to strive for joy, perfection, to transform with unabashed expression. With a simple framework, like an end of year assembly, audiences become deeply connected to the individuals on stage, their dance revealing a world of their own imagination.
Conception Jérôme Bel Assistant Maxime Kurvers Assistants to the local restaging Sheila Atala and Maxime Kurvers Performed by and with Anne White, Cameron Birts, Megan Bridge, Julian Darden, Tristan Price, Zachary Ermey, Kharrima “KC” Stevens, Emma Marshall, Delano Turnipseed, Erin McNulty, Helen Gassman, Mel Krodman, Keenan Avery, Cliff Schwinger, Cynthia Son, Felice Jordan, Edgardo Colon Costumes The dancers
Production R.B. Jérôme Bel (Paris)
Coproduction : Dance Umbrella (London), TheaterWorks Singapore/72-13, KunstenFestivaldesArts (Brussels), Tanzquartier Wien, Nanterre-Amandiers Centre Dramatique National, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Theater Chur (Chur) and TAK Theater Liechtenstein (Schaan) – TanzPlan Ost, Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia, Théâtre de la Ville (Paris), HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen), La Commune Centre dramatique national d’Aubervilliers, Tanzhaus nrw (Düsseldorf), House on Fire with the support of the European Union cultural program
With the support of Centre National de la Danse (Pantin) and Ménagerie de Verre (Paris) in the framework of Studiolab for providing studio spaces
Special thanks to the partners and participants of the Dance and voice workshops, NL Architects and Les rendez-vous d’ailleurs
R.B. Jérôme Bel is supported by Direction régionale des affaires culturelles d’Ile- de-France, French Ministry for Culture and Communication, and by the Institut Français, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, for its international tours.
$29 general / $20.30 member
$15 student + 25-and-under
Group Photos: Josefina Tommasi and Bernhard Müller
Portraits: Véronique Ellena
About Jérôme Bel
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…) 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 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.
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.
Interview with Jérôme Bel
FringeArts: What was the initial inspiration for Gala?
Jérôme Bel: I was giving a workshop for amateur dancers in the suburb of Paris. I immediately thought that it would be very interesting to put on stage people who are not skilled in dance, people who are very different—old, young, good dancers, bad dancers.
FringeArts: Since each time Gala goes to a new city, and has a new cast, what is most important about always starting anew?
Jérôme Bel: We have to start from scratch, we have to forget the version before, which is very strange. We have to be open to new performers, new behaviors, new cultures and build the piece around them. This is a very new way to work. We are still processing.
FringeArts: Can you discuss your aims in terms of how you present the performers?
Jérôme Bel: Performers shouldn’t be alienated by the piece. Performers shouldn’t have fear. Performers shouldn’t be instrumentalized by me. Performers should be emancipated by the piece.
Why Dance in the Art World? Jérôme Bel and RoseLee Goldberg in Conversation, Performa
Excerpt: I identify myself as a visual artist. I identify with the loneliness of the visual artist. I identify with Marcel Duchamp when he says, “Some artists continue painting because they are addicted to the smell of turpentine.” I just change it to, “Some dancers are addicted to the build-up of lactic acid that occurs while training—but it hurts after a while, and I don’t want training to be painful!” I also identify with Daniel Buren. I once read that Buren said, “I have no studio.” It was a very powerful idea for me—that everything could be in my head and not in a dance studio. So I saw these links and grabbed what I could from the visual arts for my own practice. Read the full article.
Jérôme Bel Interview, National Arts Centre of Canada
Excerpt: I think I could create something out of a cup of tea. It doesn’t really matter what I’m talking about in the end. I just need something concrete so that I can question or examine what is important for me and the performers–because I have to convince them. If I hope to convince the public, I have to convince the performers first. First myself, then the performers, then the public. If I can’t convince the performers and I produce the show anyway, I will start to doubt myself and the production just won’t work. Read the full article.
Photo: Josefina Tommasi