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2017 EDITION
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    Festival d’Automne à Paris
    156 rue de Rivoli
    75001 Paris

Jérôme Bel

Gala

Dance

    SCHEDULE AND VENUES

    Gala, at the crossroads between choreographic instant and portrait gallery, is about lots of people showing their dance just much as their dance shows them. Amateurs, professionals, and people of all ages and walks of life will be coming together for a jubilatory gala, in which moving bodies take possession of their representations.
    How can we open up onstage representation to individuals and bodies all too often excluded from it? How can we make of use of all the various resources of this unique apparatus, the theatre, in order to enlarge the perimeter of what can be shown in it? And how can we (re)shape it into a democratic means open to all those drawn to dance, singing and the performing arts?
    Jérôme Bel has set down a flexible, portable framework which gives rise to a wide variety of formats. He wanted it to be accessible to dance lovers from all different horizons, to provide them with the opportunity to involve themselves fully and make the project their own. In doing so, he took that most 'commonplace' of theatrical experiences: the gala, that festive, group occasion, which harks back to end-of-year shows. He then subverted the genre in order to cover different styles and fragments of stories so as to build up an inventory of a dance 'with no particular qualities' and bring out all the possible relationships that are unique to the body and voice. What is it that makes us dance? How do we look upon dance that might be fragile and precarious without indulging in notions of judgement, such as 'well done' or 'badly done'? The result is a gala that is bitty, patched up, and traversed by moments of reflection, like galleries of living portraits. With its 'Fail again. Fail better' emphasis, Gala goes from one theatre to the next, like 'a mirror taking a stroll by the side of a road', and brings home to us something about the making of those we are watching as well as the way we watch.

    Devised by Jérôme Bel
    Assisted by Maxime Kurvers
    Devised and performed by alternatively, Taous Abbas, Cédric Andrieux, Sheila Atala, Michèle Bargues, La Bourette, Vassia Chavaroche, Houda Daoudi, Raphaëlle Delaunay, Diola Djiba, Nicole Dufaure, Chiara Gallerani, Nicolas Garsault, Stéphanie Gomes, Marie-Yolette Jura, Aldo Lee, Françoise Legardinier, Magali Saby, Marlène Saldana, Oliviane Sarazin, Frédéric Seguette 
    Costumes, the dancers

    An R.B Jérôme Bel – Paris production // Co-produced by Dance Umbrella – London ; TheaterWorks Singapore/72-13 ; KunstFestivaldesArts – Brussels ; Tanzquartier Wien : Nanterre-Amandiers Centre Dramatique National, Festival d’Automne à Paris ; Theater Chur – Chur ; 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 supported by the EU cultural programme // In association with Théâtre du Rond Point ; Théâtre de la Ville ; Festival d’Automne à Paris // With support from the CND centre d’art pour la danse – Pantin ; La Ménagerie de Verre – Paris as part of Studiolab, for the studio rehearsal space // Wit thanks to the partners and participants of the Ateliers danse et voix ; NL Architects ; Les rendez-vous d’ailleurs // The company receives support from the DRAC – Direction Régional des Affaires Culturelles d’Ile-de-France – Ministère de la culture et de la communication, as a recognized IF Institut Français recognized choreographic company – Ministère des Affaires Etrangères – ONDA for its overseas tours – Office National de Diffusion Artistique for its tours in France
    Partnership with France Inter

    Jérôme Bel’s history with the Festival d’Automne began in 2004 with The Show Must Go On 2, a duet for himself and dancer Frédéric Séguette. The piece underlined one of the central themes of Bel’s work: the dependency of the dancing body on language that functions as a signifying machine sidestepping the intentions of both the dancer and the choreographer. Since then Bel has been a regular guest at the Festival d’Automne with the festival in 2008 even hosting a website with a Catalogue raisonné of Bel’s work between 1994 and 2008 consisting of over 8 hours of films and interviews with the choreographer.

    Born in 1964 in Montpellier, Jérome Bel trained as a contemporary dancer for one year at the CNDC in Angers before dancing for a number of companies such as Angelin Preljocaj or Compagnie L’Esquisse Bouvier / Obadia. Bel started his career as a choreographer in 1994 with a piece for two dancers and eleven objects. Nom donné par l’auteur objectified the codes of choreography to the point where the two human bodies on stage were reduced to objects themselves. The piece, more of an analysis of the codes and conventions of dance than a dance itself, marked the beginning of Bel’s singular project in contemporary dance that considers the dancing body to be a product of culture rather than a residue of nature. His shows analyse the codes of a dance production thereby confounding audience expectations and allowing for a very intimate relation between the dancers and the spectators.

    In 1995 Bel’s second piece, Jérôme Bel, scrutinized the body of the dancer by placing a male and female naked body on stage. Their bodies became a site for cultural inscriptions that visibly left their mark on the body. The piece was shown in the festival in 2014 and will be part of 2017 retrospective. Following on from that Shirtologie took a humorous look at the role of the costume in producing meaning on stage. While his previous productions avoided choreographing movement, in 1998 with The Last Performance Bel finally tackled the central feature of dance. By repeating the beginning of German dancer Susanne Linke’s solo from her piece Wandlung, Bel questioned the originality of movement so central to the idea of modern and contemporary dance. Shifting his perspective to the role of the audience The Show Must Go On (2001) invited the audience to follow a chorus of 20 dancers subjected to the lyrics of 19 well known pop songs performing just what the lyrics tell them to. The Show Must Go On will be shown for the fist time at the Festival d’autome this year. It will be performed by London-based Candoco Dance Company, which consists of disabled and non-disabled dancers.

    Jérôme Bel’s project can be considered to be a project of emancipation. His first series of work from 1994 to 2004 was characterised by Bel’s desire to disappear both as a dancer and a choreographer. He handed these functions over to language and discourse or to the spectators that were constantly made aware of their own productive role in bringing the performance about. Bel’s entire work so far has been an analysis of the dispositif of dance, its modes of operation, its power structures, and its processes of subjectivation. In its live presentations the Festival d’automne has focused on Bel’s work from second and third period, which were preoccupied with the emancipation of the individual dancer and the emancipation of dance from its history of representation. In productions such as Véronique Doisneau for the Paris Opera in 2004, Pichet Klunchun & Myself, and Cédric Andrieux, which was shown at three editions of the Festival in 2009, 2011, and 2014, Bel handed the stage over to individual dancers from big dance companies to talk about their work and their relation to the institution. Bel’s talking portraits of dancers work on the the emancipation of the dancers by turning them into speaking subjects who address their process of subjugation.

    With productions such as 3Abschied, a collaboration with Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and the chamber music ensemble Ictus that was part of the Festival’s 2010 edition, another element comes into play: that of risk. Just like De Keersmaeker risks the relation between music, movement and the singing voice the 11 mentally challenged actors and actresses form Theater HORA in Disabled Theater choreograph their own dances although they are not trained dancers. Disabled Theater, which disables the gaze of the spectators on theatre and its appropriate forms of representation, was part of the 2013 and 2014 editions of the festival.

    The portrait of Jérôme Bel consists of 8 productions, 2 of which were not seen at the Festival d’automne before: Pichet Klunchun & Myself (Bel’s duet with the Thai Khôn-dancer Pichet Klunchun) and The Show Must Go On. Gala, Disabled Theater, Jérôme Bel, and Cédric Andrieux will be shown again as well as Bel’s most recent creation with the Opera Ballet of Lyon and a new experimental piece called Un Spectacle en moins especially conceived for the Festival.

     Jérôme Bel: Questioning the Dispositif of Dance By Gerald Siegmund