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Jérôme Bel

Sep 13 – 15 2016

Runtime TBA

$15 – $29

Philadelphia Film CenterMap

Wheelchair Accessible

DescriptionAbout the ArtistInterviewFurther Reading

“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.

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.

Previous Fringe Shows: The show must go on, Pichet Klunchun and myself, and Cédric Andrieux.  

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

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Group Photos: Josefina Tommasi
Portraits: Véronique Ellena

Executive Producers
Tobey and Mark Dichter
David Seltzer and Lisa Roberts

Festival Star Producers
Al and Nancy Hirsig

Festival Producers
Robert M. Dever
Carol Klein and Lawrence Spitz
Arthur Kaplan and R. Duane Perry

Festival Co-Producers
Sandy Betner and Marc Chaikin
Lynne and Bert Strieb

About Jérôme Bel

Jerome Bel studied at the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine of Angers (France) in 1984–1985. From 1985 to 1991, he danced for many choreographers in France and in Italy. In 1992, he was the assistant to the director and choreographer Philippe Découflé for the ceremonies of the XVIth Winter Olympic Games of Albertville and Savoie (France). He then began creating his own work beginning in 1994 and has since pushed the boundaries of what a dance—and performance more generally—can be. His works are engrossing, often full of wry humor, emotionally and intellectually stimulating while also being very accessible. His has showcased non-performers onstage as well as been commissioned by the Opéra National de Paris and collaborated with such choreographers as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Xavier Le Roy.

In October 2016 Bel will bring his self-titled work Jérôme Bel to FringeArts.

Interview with Jérôme Bel

FringeArts: What was the initial inspiration for Gala?


Photo by Herman Sorgeloos

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.

Photo: Véronique Ellena

Further Reading

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.

Interview with Jérôme Bel by Philippe Noisette, Tanzquartier Wien

Excerpt: It seems to me that the way an individual dances tells a lot about himself or herself, especially, when this dancer hasn’t been shaped by any form of dance education which is a true disaster. These days, dancing has become a thinly spread activity. Dancing lets us experience rare situations of fragility, where we lose control and where not all things can be mastered. This state of uncertainty makes it possible for all the inexpressible, suppressed or unacknowledged things to appear, be finally expressed and to be shared with others within a performance. Moreover, by dancing, an individual reveals their culture—be it an original or a product of their own creation—and their cultural identities. Also, their danced modes of representation become visible—whether they recognise or discover themselves, or, even better, whether they reinvent themselves. 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

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