Jérôme Bel

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jérôme Bel (2012)

Jérôme Bel (born October 14, 1964 in Montpellier ) is a French choreographer and dancer. He lives in Paris and works as a freelance artist worldwide. His work can be seen regularly in the programs of major festivals and venues in Europe. Bel is regarded as a representative of “concept dance”, which makes the functioning of the stage art itself the subject of his pieces. In 2005 Bel received the prestigious “Bessie Award” for The show must go on (performed in New York in 2001). In 2008 he was awarded the Dutch “Princess Margriet Award” by the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) together with the Thai dancer Pichet Klunchun for the joint piece Pichet Klunchun & myself (2005).

Artistic career

Bel studied dance at the Center National de Danse Contemporaine in Angers , France in 1984 and 1985 . For the following six years he danced for various choreographers in France and Italy until 1991. a. in pieces by Angelin Preljocaj , Régis Obadia, Daniel Larrieu and Caterina Sagna. In 1992 he assisted the director and choreographer Philippe Découflé for the ceremonies of the XVI. 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville .

In 1994 Bel developed his first own piece, Nom donné par l'auteur , a choreography for ten objects and two performers. This was followed by Jérôme Bel (1995), Shirtology (1997) and The last performance (1998). In 2001 the award-winning work The show must go on was created for 20 performers, 19 pop songs and a DJ. In 2004 Bel developed The show must go on 2 .

In 2004, the performance by Véronique Doisneau marked the beginning of a performance series in which Bel performs a performance-based documentation of the lives of selected artist personalities and questions their experiences and skills. Bel was originally invited to create a piece for the Paris Opera ballet company . In the end, however, he followed his wish to work on a solo for Véronique Doisneau, a dancer of the corps de ballet . Usually the individual disappears here in a co-ordinated crowd, while the audience's attention is focused on the soloists. In deliberate contrast, Bel portrays the dancer in a 30-minute solo that bears her name. The 41-year-old is about to retire when the piece is developed. Further theatrically staged biographies arise with the plays Isabel Torres (2005), Pichet Klunchun and myself (2005), Lutz Förster (2009) and Cédric Andrieux (2009).

Also in 2009 Bel A developed a spectator . In a one-hour monologue, which he performs himself, he reflects on various experiences that he himself has made as a “normal viewer”. In 2010 Bel created the piece 3 Abschied to the music of Das Lied von der Erde together with the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker - in the original by Gustav Mahler , here in the version by Arnold Schönberg and Rainer Riehn . In 2012, Bel's work Disabled Theater follows with disabled actors from Theater HORA's ensemble , which - similar to his series of documentary solos - portrays the artistic personalities themselves. In Germany the play celebrated its premiere at the Ruhrtriennale . After that it was u. a. to be seen at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel and at the reopening of Hebbel am Ufer for the 2012/13 season in Berlin.

Film recordings of Bel's pieces are shown at various art biennials , among others. a. shown in Lyon , Porto Alegre and Tirana , as well as in museums, e.g. B. in the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris and Metz , in the Hayward Gallery and the Tate Gallery of Modern Art in London, as well as in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York.


Bel's choreographic works usually break with the conventions of theater and dance. He deprives traditional stage art of its constitutive elements. In Bel's pieces no illusion is created, there is no “pretend-as-if”. His actors don't "act". His dancers don't “dance”, at least not with virtuosity. Accordingly, he does not use light, music or props to create effects that allow the viewer to immerse himself in another world. By omitting traditional means of expression, “as an extension of the dance avant-garde of the 1960s”, Bel makes it possible to question the conditions under which the performing arts developed.

Theoretically, Bel follows central ideas in deconstructivism and poststructuralism . Accordingly, he locates himself among French philosophers of the late and postmodern era such as Guy Debord , Roland Barthes , Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault . Turning away from the spectacle plays a central role (cf. Guy Debord: The Society of the Spectacle ). Bel opposes the “theater of representation”, in which direct experiences are replaced by signs, creating an illusory world far removed from reality. Bel's works undermine the traditional role distribution of the actor on the stage compared to the audience in front of the stage. For example, Bel often exposes the viewer's usual expectation of "something being offered" in his plays. Sabina Huschka, for example, writes about the performance The show must go on (2001):

“Bel consistently shows the viewer the fact that he is sitting in the theater to see dance, which, however, never really takes place, although music is constantly playing. Because nobody dances to her [...]. When the dancers move, there is nothing virtuoso about them. All too often they don't even represent dancers in their postures. Basically, they seem very similar to the audience. "

Bel is concerned with destroying the “spectacle” in the theater. The dominance, the seductive power that emanates from him is intolerable.


Bel is one of today's much discussed choreographers. Some critics question whether he can actually be called a choreographer, on the grounds that he does not show dance “dancing”, but rather questions of theater aesthetics and the understanding of dance in our culture are in the foreground. Others consider him the "most radical and most important" choreographer of the young generation, a "star among French concept choreographers". Bel is "the only rightly world-famous choreographer" in concept dance, writes the FAZ in view of the performance of Disabled Theater at the Festival d'Avignon 2012. He helps to better understand the conditions of theater, which is liberating for art and audience alike . In contrast, there are critical voices, above all from “more conservative observers”, to whom Bel's pieces, for example Veronique Doisneau at the opening gala of the Paris Opera in 2004, appear superficial, are “of little interest and fleeting effect” and are “very much to be desired” left ”. The world premiere of The show must go on caused a "scandal" at the Hamburger Schauspielhaus, where the play opened the first season of the new artistic director Tom Stromberg in 2000 . There were heckling up to "rude rabble" on the part of the audience, some demanded the entrance fee back.

In 2005 Bel received the renowned New York “Bessie Award for innovative achievements in dance and performance” for The show must go on (2001), a piece that was part of the repertoire of the Hamburger Schauspielhaus between 2000 and 2005 . The Lyon Opera Ballet also recorded the piece in 2007, and it will continue to be shown here until 2014. The European Cultural Foundation (ECF) awarded Bel in 2008 together with the Thai dancer Pichet Klunchun for the joint piece Pichet Klunchun & myself (2005) with the Dutch “Princess Margriet Award”, endowed with 20,000 euros. In May 2013, “Disabled Theater” (2012) was invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen as one of ten productions . On the occasion of the invitation of the play, which was also very controversial in the jury, a symposium with the title “Disabled people on stage - artists or exhibits?” Was held as part of the Theatertreffen.


The organization “Association RB Jérôme Bel” in Paris produces Bel's work in association with various co-producers. Some organizers fund Bel on a regular basis, others provide support depending on the current production. The French Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Foreign Office in France support the international performances of his works.

In the German-speaking area, Bels plays a. a. from the Federal Cultural Foundation , Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), Senate Department for Science, Research and Culture (Berlin), TanzWerkstatt Berlin, the European Center for the Arts Hellerau (Dresden), Theater an der Wien (Vienna) and the International Dance Weeks / ImPulsTanz (Vienna ) co-produced.


  • 1994 Nom donne par l'auteur
  • 1995 Jérôme Bel
  • 1997 Shirtology
  • 1998 The last performance
  • 2000 Xavier le Roy
  • 2001 The show must go on
  • 2004 The last performance (a lecture)
  • 2004 Véronique Doisneau
  • 2004 The show must go on 2
  • 2005 Pichet Klunchun & myself
  • 2005 Isabel Torres
  • 2005 Véronique Doisneau (2004) - film
  • 2009 Lutz Förster
  • 2009 Cédric Andrieux
  • 2010 3 goodbye
  • 2012 Disabled Theater
  • 2015 gala


  • Sabine Huschka: Jérôme Bel. Dance loose and other untruths. In: Sabine Huschka: Modern dance. Concepts, styles, utopias. rowohlt's encyclopedia. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2002, pp. 327–334.
  • Gerald Sigmund: In the realm of signs: Jérôme Bel In: ballett international / tanz aktuell (1998: 4), pp. 34–37.
  • Sandra Umathum / Benjamin Wihstutz (eds.): Disabled Theater , diaphanes, Zurich 2015.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Sabina Huschka: Jérôme Bel. Dance loose and other untruths. In: Sabine Huschka: Modern dance. Concepts, styles, utopias. rowohlt's encyclopedia. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2002, p. 329.
  2. ^ Sabina Huschka: Jérôme Bel. Dance loose and other untruths. In: Sabine Huschka: Modern dance. Concepts, styles, utopias. rowohlt's encyclopedia. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2002, pp. 332f.
  3. ^ Jérôme Bel at a public panel discussion, Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, November 4, 2012.
  4. ^ Sabine Huschka: Jérôme Bel. Dance loose and other untruths. In: Sabine Huschka: Modern dance. Concepts, styles, utopias. rowohlt's encyclopedia. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2002, p. 327.
  5. Gerald Siegmund: Ballet with ten objects , in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of March 10, 2000.
  6. Annette Stiekele: With flower pot and violin singing . Die Welt, August 8, 2012, accessed online on November 3, 2012
  7. Wiebke Hüster in the FAZ of August 27, 2012, cited. according to the review review from nachtkritik.de, accessed online on November 3, 2012
  8. ibid.
  9. Gerald Siegmund: Hello, I'm Andre Agassi , in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Rhein-Main from March 12, 2000, accessed online on November 3, 2012
  10. Julia Bührle: A mixed pleasure. The opening gala of the Paris Opera. , in tanznetz.de from October 8, 2004, online ( memento from October 25, 2007 in the web archive archive.today ).
  11. Klaus Witzeling: Don't talk, dance! , in the Hamburger Abendblatt of November 17, 2007, accessed online on November 3, 2012
  12. Hamburger Abendblatt: All art begins with inability , October 2, 2000, online ( Memento from February 10, 2013 in the web archive archive.today )
  13. Benjamin Wihstutz: “… and I am an actor. About emancipation on the stage ”, keynote speech about“ Disabled Theater ”on May 13, 2013 at the 50th Berlin Theatertreffen, published on nachtkritik.de, accessed online on May 15, 2013