VOLKSBÜHNE
Berlin

Jérôme Bel

Jérôme Bel, the French choreographer and dancer, was born in Montpellier in 1964. He lives in Paris and works all over the world.

Inspired by post-structuralism, Jérôme Bel transfers its fundamental ideas to the cultural symbol systems of theatre and dance. In his early pieces, he exposed the structures and elements of theatrical forms: Nom donné par l’auteur (1994), Jérôme Bel (1995), Shirtology (1997), The last performance (1998), and Xavier le Roy (2000). The performance The show must go on was developed in 2001 with 20 performers, 19 pop songs, and a DJ, and won Bel New York’s Bessie Award for innovative achievements in Dance and Performance in 2005.

In subsequent pieces, his analytical interest in the constitutive parts of dance and theatre shifted towards focusing on the actor as an individual. The result was a series of performances in which Jérôme Bel performatively documented the lives and experiences of selected artists: Véronique Doisneau (2004, at the invitation of the Paris Opera Ballet), Isabell Torres (2005), Pichet Kluchun and myself (2005), and Cedrix Andrieux (2009).

In 2010 3Abschied was created in collaboration with the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, based on Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Disabled Theater (2012) is a piece of choreography produced in collaboration with the HORA theatre in Zurich, which works with actors with intellectual disabilities. In Germany, the piece celebrated its premiere at the Ruhrtriennale. It was then shown at various events, including dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, and invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen in 2013. In Gala (2015), professional dancers encounter amateurs with different backgrounds.

By inviting non-traditional performers (amateurs, people with disabilities, children) onto the stages of prestigious establishments, Jérôme Bel privileges a diverse community over a professional ensemble and thus the joy of dance over choreographic form, opening up new playful forms for emancipation through art.

In 2013, Emails 2009-2010 was published by Les Presses du Réel, documenting a written conversation with the French choreographer Boris Charmatz.

Film versions of his theatrical works are regularly shown at contemporary art biennales, including those in Lyon, Porto Alegre, and Tirana, as well as in museums such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Hayward Gallery and Tate Modern in London, and the MoMA in New York. In 2017 the Festival D’Automne Paris dedicated a three-month retrospective to the Jérôme Bel’s work with over 60 performances in the greater Paris area.

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