With Gala, Jérôme Bel continues his patient deconstruction of the institutional representation of dance, concerning himself less with destroying dogmas than with questioning what is absent, or fortuitously silent, and what is voluntarily forgotten. After having had mentally handicapped dancers perform (Disabled Theater), then members of the audience (Cour d’honneur) the choreographer again gives the stage to those who are generally kept off it, here a group of amateurs giving rein to their amateurism in the fullest sense of lovingly doing art. His fight against generalised exclusion from performing in a show takes here the form of a gala, a non professional collective celebration, sapping the authority of the idea of “dancing well” to the benefit of the pure pleasure of being your own producer.
Gala, which in the version presented in Florence is the result of a co-production by Fabbrica Europa and Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci Prato on the occasion of the exhibition 76’38’’ + ∞ curated by Antonia Alampi and dedicated to the work of the French choreographer, explores the physical and intellectual plasticity of these novice bodies by mobilising their desire to express themselves through dance and their capacity to embody, albeit minimally, a choreographic knowledge.
The piece explores an alternative path to the official channels of choreographic art. The choice of a gala form, poor relation of the professional show, thus gives the place of honour to the simplicity of execution of domestic dance, the sort you can do at home, without mastery or technique, thereby, it is assumed, sacrificing any strictly aesthetic interest. Arriving in their party clothes, picked out from their own wardrobes, the dancers take over that place of power, the stage, and in a sense do away with its authority. Shown in all its bareness, as in all Jérôme Bel’s shows, the stage becomes an empty space for these improvised interpreters to invest. In this neutralised place, the presentation of their intuitive bits of knowledge and their home-made movements illustrates the idea of an “equality of different sorts of intelligence”, a theory of Jacques Rancière in The Ignorant Master, but displaces it to the field of dance: just as there are not several different ways of being intelligent, Gala suggests a continuity between all the different ways of dancing. At one and the same time Jérôme Bel discredits the specialist’s reduction of the amateur to his supposed impotence, and definition of him as an imperfect and dull figure, in order to valorise his choreographic potential.
Jérôme Bel lives in Paris and works worldwide. nom donné par l’auteur (1994) is a choreography of objects. Jérôme Bel (1995) is based on the total nudity of the performers. Shirtology (1997) presents an actor wearing many T-shirts. The last performance (1998) quotes a solo by the choreographer Susanne Linke, as well as Hamlet and André Agassi. Xavier Le Roy (2000) was claimed by Jérôme Bel as his own, but was actually choreographed by Xavier Le Roy. The show must go on (2001) brings together twenty performers, nineteen pop songs and one DJ. Véronique Doisneau (2004) is a solo on the work of the dancer Véronique Doisneau, from the Paris Opera. Isabel Torres (2005), for the ballet of the Teatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, is its Brazilian version. Pichet Klunchun and myself (2005) was created in Bangkok with the Thai traditional dancer Pichet Klunchun. Follows Cédric Andrieux (2009), dancer of Merce Cunningham. 3Abschied (2010) is a collaboration between Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Jérôme Bel based on The Song of the Earth by Gustav Malher. Disabled Theater (2012) is a piece with a Zurich-based company, Theater Hora, consisting of professional actors with learning disabilities. Cour d’honneur (2013) stages fourteen spectators of the Cour d’honneur of the Palais des Papes in Avignon. In Gala (2015), the choreographer stages together professional people from the dance field and amateurs coming from different backgrounds. In Tombe (2016), performance created at the invitation of Opéra National de Paris, Jérôme Bel proposed to some dancers of the ballet to invite, for a duet, the person with who they would never share the stage.
conception: Jérôme Bel
assistant: Maxime Kurvers
assistants for the restaging in Florence: Chiara Gallerani and Henrique Neves
by and with: Annamaria Balboni, Silvia Bastianelli, Hibrima Bejio, Lorenzo Bini, Guglielmo Camilletti, Luca Camilletti, Marcella Cappelletti, Mauro Cardinali, Kebba Cham, Sofia Collacchioni, Margherita D’Adamo, Irene Del Frate, Cecilia Di Giuli, Ada Donatini, Siliana Fedi, Sara Miriati, Sandra Querci, Gianni Rocchetta, Benedetta Scatizzi, Decimo Zanella
costumes: the dancers
production for the restaging in Florence: Fabbrica Europa (Firenze), Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci (Prato) in collaboration with Institut français Italia, Fondazione Teatro Metastasio di Prato, Kinkaleri Prato
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
production: R.B. Jérôme Bel (Paris)
with the support of Centre National de la Danse (Pantin) and Ménagerie de Verre (Paris) in the framework of Studiolab for providing studio spaces
thanks to the partners and participants of the Dance and voice workshops, NL Architects and Les rendez-vous d’ailleurs
artistic advice and company development: Rebecca Lee
production manager: Sandro Grando
technical advice: Gilles Gentner
subsidies: R.B Jérôme Bel is supported by the 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
[photo: Bernhard Müller]