Jérôme Bel

Jérôme Bel (FRA) – GALA


Wed July 4th at 19.00  BUY TICKET

Thu July 5th at 20.00   BUY TICKET



"GALA forces audience expectations to the fore and blurs the lines between failure and success in performance as it suggests that theater is community, both onstage and off. It's a tour de force, wildly entertaining and truly radical."
– Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times, May 13th, 2015

"Take a different approach to dance. Open up theatre to those who are never represented there. Ask how art leads us to a common ground. A major artist of the contemporary scene, Jérôme Bel is returning with a proposal which came to the fore during a workshop with amateurs in Seine-Saint-Denis. The gala, an art form that is both festive and collective, brings together dance professionals and amateurs of diverse backgrounds. The different acts never call on us to pass judgement, but they reveal the way in which each person's cultural repertoire involves them in a singular relationship with that desire for something else, for joy, perfection, transfiguration and political divides which dance is. An inventory of this "unqualifiable dance" does not only show the multiplicity of its aesthetic models. It plays its role through a shared desire."
– Marie-José Malis, director of La Commune Centre dramatique national d'Aubervilliers


"Gala" offers a different approach to dance. In this collective art form, Jérôme Bel's project brings together local dance professionals and amateurs of diverse backgrounds. The different acts never call on us to pass judgement, but they reveal the way in which each person’s cultural repertoire involves them in a singular relationship with that desire for something else that dance is.
After "Disabled Theater", a piece performed by a troupe of mentally handicapped actors, and "Cour d'honneur", which put a group of spectators centre stage, "Gala" uses the same question as its starting point: how can we bring to the realms of onstage representation individuals and bodies that are all too often excluded from such a possibility? How can we make best use of all the various resources of this unique apparatus, the theatre – with its codes, venues, genres and professionals - in order to enlarge the perimeter of what can be shown in it? And how can we (re)shape it into a democratic means that lies within the grasp of all those drawn to dance, singing and the performing arts?
Driven on by the experience of workshops run with amateurs, Jérôme Bel sought to set down a flexible framework to travel with, and which could give rise to a wide variety of forms. He wanted it to be accessible to amateurs from all different horizons and to provide them with the opportunity to give their all and make the project their own. In doing so, he took that most 'commonplace' of theatrical experiences: the gala, a festive, group occasion, spanning end-of-year shows and amateur performances. He then subverted the genre in order to cover different styles and fragments of stories, which would 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 watch 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, 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.



In his early pieces (name given by the author, Jérôme Bel, Shirtology…), Jérôme Bel applied structuralist operations to dance in order to single out the primary elements from  theatrical spectacle. The neutralization of  formal criteria and the distance he took from choreographic language led him to reduce his pieces to their operative minimum, the better to bring out a critical reading of the economy of the stage, and of the body on it.

His interest subsequently shifted from dance as a stage practice to the issue of the performer as a particular individual. The series of portraits of dancers (Véronique Doisneau, Cédric Andrieux…) broaches dance through the narrative of those who practice it, emphasizes words in a dance spectacle, and stresses the issue of the singularity of the stage. Here, formal and institutional criticism takes the form of a deconstruction through discourse, in a subversive gesture which radicalizes its relation to choreography.

Through his use of biography, Jérôme  Bel politicizes his questions, aware as he is of the crisis involving the subject in contemporary society and the forms its representation takes on stage. In embryonic form in The show must go on, he deals with questions about what the theatre can be in a political sense—questions which come to the fore from Disabled Theater on. In offering the stage to non-traditional performers (amateurs, people with physical and mental handicaps, children…), he shows a preference for the community of differences over the formatted group, and a desire to dance over choreography, and duly applies the methods of a process of emancipation through art.

He has been invited to contemporary art biennials and museums (Tate Modern, MoMA, Documenta 13, the Louvre…), where he has put on performances and shown films. Two of them, Véronique Doisneau and Shirtology, are in the collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne-Centre Pompidou. Jérôme Bel  is regularly invited to give lectures at universities (Waseda, UCLA, Stanford…). In 2013, together with the choreographer Boris Charmatz, he co-authored Emails 2009-2010, which was published by Les Presses du Réel.

In 2005, Jérôme Bel received a Bessie Award for the performances of The show must go on given in New York. Three years later, with Pichet Klunchun, he won the Routes Princesse Margriet Award for Cultural Diversity (European Cultural Foundation) for the  performance  Pichet Klunchun and myself. Disabled Theater was chosen in 2013 for the Theatertreffen in Berlin and won the Swiss “present-day dance creation” prize.

Conception: Jérôme Bel
Assistants for the local restaging: Dina Ed Dik and Maxime Kurvers 
By and with: Raho Aadla, Grete Alavere, Eha Albert, Eva Calica Eclar, Jaak Jalakas, Marta Jamsja, Annalisa Kesküla, Kristo Kruusman, Evelyn Mägi, Liisa Mägi, Jane Paberit, Jaanika Petrova, Alan Proosa, Mehis Saaber, Kersti Selli, Rein Sikk, Maarja Tamleht, Mirjam Toomingas, Liivi Tuga, Eliis Uudeküll
Costumes: the dancers
"Gala" coordinator at Baltoscandal: Triinu Sikk
Production: R. B. Jérôme Bel (Paris)
Coproduction: Dance Umbrella London, TheaterWorks Singapore/72-13, KunstenFestivaldesArts Brussels, Tanzquartier Wien, Nanterre-Amandiers Centre Dramatique National, Festival d'Automne à Paris, Theater Chur and TAK Theater Liechtenstein – TanzPlan Ost, Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia, Théâtre de la Ville, HAU 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
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
R. B. Jérôme Bel is supported by the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles d'Ile-de-France, French Ministry for Culture and Communication, by the Institut Français, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, for its international tours and by ONDA – Office National de Diffusion Artistique – for its tours in France
R. B. Jérôme Bel:
Artistic advice and executive direction: Rebecca Lee
production manager: Sandro Grando
Technical advice: Gilles Gentner

Performances at Baltoscandal supported by French Institute in Estonia.


Duration: 90 min.

Language is no problem.

Photo by Gabriela Liivamägi


Photo by Gabriela Liivamägi


Photo by Gabriela Liivamägi


Photo by Herman Sorgeloos


Photo by Herman Sorgeloos


Photo by Josefina Tommasi


Photo by José Frade