Jérôme Bel

Jerome Bel was born in 1964, he lives in Paris. He works worldwide. He studied at the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine of Angers (France) in 1984-1985. From 1985 to 1991, he danced for many choreographers in France and in Italy. In 1992, he was assistant to the director and choreographer Philippe Découflé for the ceremonies of the XVIth Winter Olympic Games of Albertville and Savoie (France).

His first piece, a choreography of objects, is entitled nom donné par l’auteur (1994). The second one Jerome Bel (1995) is based on the identity and the total nudity of the four performers. The third one, Shirtology (1997), was commissioned by the Centro Cultural de Belem (Lisbon) and Victoria (Ghent). In 2000 a Japanese version of the piece was produced in Kyoto and Tokyo. Shirtology presents an actor wearing many shop-bought T-shirts. Then came The last performance (1998), which in quoting several times a solo by the German choreographer Susanne Linke, and also Hamlet or André Agassi, tries to define an ontology of the performance. In 1999 he asks Myriam Gourfink to choreograph a solo for him : Glossolalie (1999).

The piece Xavier Le Roy (2000) was claimed by Jérôme Bel as his own, but was actually choreographed by the French choreographer living in Berlin, Xavier Le Roy. The show must go on (2001) brings toghether a cast of twenty performers, nineteen pop songs and one DJ. The piece was in the repertory of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg between 2000 and 2005. It is also in the repertory of the Lyon Opera Ballet from 2007 until 2014.

In 2003, Jerome Bel took a sabbatical year. In October, he was with Alain Platel the curator of the Klapstuk Festival in Leuven (Belgium). In 2004, he was invited to produce a piece for the Paris Opera ballet : Veronique Doisneau (2004), a theatrical documentary on the work of the dancer Véronique Doisneau, from the ballet corps of that company. The same year, he produced The show must go on 2 (2004), a piece which proved to be a failure for him and that he took out of the company’s repertory after the performances in Brussels, Paris, Berlin and Singapore. The next year, invited to come and work in Bangkok by the curator Tang Fu Kuen, he produced Pichet Klunchun and myself (2005) with the Thai traditional dancer Pichet Klunchun. This production stages Pichet Klunchun and Jerome Bel discoursing on their own artistic practices despite the abyssal cultural gap dividing them. Isabel Torres (2005) for the ballet of the Teatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro is the Brazilian version of the production for the Paris Opera.

In 2008, the Catalogue raisonné Jérôme Bel is edited, it analyzes Jerome Bel’s works between 1994 and 2005. In 2009, he produces Cédric Andrieux (2009), in the framework of the serie of performances questioning the experience and the knowledge of performers, which is now including Véronique Doisneau (2004), Isabel Torres (2005), Pichet Klunchun and myself (2005) and Cédric Andrieux (2009). Cédric Andrieux was in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for eight years and then at the Lyon Opera Ballet. The same year came A spectator (2009). It is a lecture performed by Jerome Bel himself which consists in a one hour monologue in which he recounts to the audience some experiences he had as simple spectator. In 2010, he creates with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker 3Abschied (2010), a performance based on The song of the Earth by Gustav Malher in the Schönberg version. In 2012, he produces Disabled Theater (2012), a piece with a Zurich-based company, Theater Hora, consisting of professional actors with learning disabilities. In Cour d’honneur (2013) he stages fourteen people talking about their experiences as spectators in the Cour d’honneur of the Palais des Papes at the Avignon Festival. 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. 

The films of his shows are presented in contemporary art biennials and in many museums. He often lectures in several universities. In 2013 Emails 2009-2010, written with the French choreographer Boris Charmatz, is edited (Les Presses du Réel). This book is published online and in English by Les Presses du Réel, in 2016. Jérôme Bel received a Bessie Award for the performances of The show must go on in New York in 2005. In 2008 Jerome Bel and Pichet Klunchun received the Routes Princess Margriet Award for Cultural Diversity (European Cultural Foundation) for Pichet Klunchun and myself (2005). In 2013, Disabled Theater (2012) was selected for the Theatertreffen in Berlin and won the Swiss Dance Awards – Current Dance