Day 12: Jérôme Bel

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Jérôme Bel for ever. Cause he is the guy who gave us The show must go on, still one of my favorite performances ever. But a sold-out Kaaitheater, just to hear him talk about hís favorites? Isn’t this glorification getting a tiny bit out of control?

True enough: it was not his idea. Jérôme Bel got asked to do it by a British theatre. They wanted him to hold a lecture about the history of dance. While preparing that speech, the French choreographer thought it would be a better idea to not talk about history, but to talk about his story. About the evenings that left their mark on him as a spectator.

And so Bel tells us about the night Raimund Hoghe made him feel he was not alone with all of his pain, the night Pina Bausch made him high on life, while in fact he was quite depressed. He tells us about a Trisha Brown-performance, during which he saw a female dancer carry a male dancer. About a Jan Fabre-performance that made him angry, and about a Maguy Marin-performance that shocked the audience.

There’s no doubt that Bel knows how to tell a story. He throws in a few jokes and a few dancing moves. (Quite funny indeed, to see how, by means of almost nothing, he is capable of imitating Trisha Brown or Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.) ‘Un spectateur’ sure is a pleasant talk to listen to. But in the end, it’s a story that every artist could have told. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, or Vincent Dunoyer, for instance, both present at the first of Bel’s two ‘performances’ at the KunstenFestivalDesArts.

One important thing though ran through all these stories like a thread: Bel’s utter respect for the audience. Without spectators, there is no performance. One of the many examples he gave to prove his point was a Xavier Le Roy-performance: one dancer, on the floor, in a corner on stage, in an attempt to leave as much space as possible for the thoughts of the audience-members. (And it goes without saying that Bel just couldn’t avoid adding the Imagine-moment in his own Show must go on.)

‘The audience is your friend.’  Those were Bel’s last words. As if, by then, he hadn’t made himself clear yet. Nevertheless: it’s a reassuring thought.

(photo credit: Jérôme Bel)

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