Jérôme Bel Xiao Ke


In this latest opus in his series of danced portraits, Jérôme Bel brings to the stage an autobiographical account of the dancer and choreographer Xiao Ke, underlying which is a history of contemporary China. By embedding the choreographer’s personal history in that of her native country, the piece condenses three centuries of political, economic and cultural revolutions.

Xiao Ke is the “return” version of a joint-project between the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the West Bund Museum Project in Shanghai, in which Jérôme Bel encouraged Xiao Ke to activate the score of the autobiographical monologue. In accordance with his ecological principles, Jérôme Bel organised rehearsals and the various exchanges from a distance, and has adapted this staging for the Parisian version. Alone onstage, the choreographer translates, puts into context and decrypts Xiao Ke’s interactions, the voice and image of whom will be broadcast onscreen, live from China. Breaking with theatrical convention, the constant switching between the here and now, and elsewhere, retraces the dancer’s career, alternating between folkloric, modern and contemporary dance, artistic and commercial performance. In doing so, it translates the country’s lightning-quick evolution from post-Maoist cultural reform to the rise of endemic capitalism, via the opening up of dialogue with the West.