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A selection of Some Things that happened in 1995: I turn 6 years old and start primary school. South Africa is in its first year of democracy. The Springbok Rugby team wins the World Cup. My favourite movie ‘Tank Girl’ is made. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission begins. My family moves into a house with a garden for the first time and I am excited. Also, the French choreographer Jérôme Bel makes a work called Jérôme Bel which I watch for the first time seventeen years later in North Carolina, USA and it becomes one of my favourite artworks ever. Ever. jbel5 It seems too obvious to write about this piece. Also it has be widely ‘discussed already’ by fancy smart people. But this piece is really quite important to me and represents a pivotal moment in what has shaped my understanding of dance. It is like Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring. When I watched that piece, 18 years old on a jumping scratchy VHS in a musty lecture room at the Dance School of the University of Cape Town, my mind imploded, because I suddenly realized that there was not Just Ballet – there was something else you could do with your body. Then five years later I watched Jérôme Bel and my mind imploded again because I suddenly realized that there was not Just Contemporary Dance – there was something else, you could just have a body. Things take a while to reach South Africa. Especially in pre-internet days. Now I’m playing catch up with 22 tabs open on my screen and a glazed look of wonder and exhaustion on my face. It’s nice. OK OK, enough romantic self-oriented musings. Jérôme Bel by Jérôme Bel. A picture: jbel9 I got the pictures off his crispy website. Because I watched the full-length work almost a year ago I planned to re-watch what I could on YouTube. But after a fair amount of time searching the web, I couldn’t seem to find any extracts of this piece (unless someone can point me in the right direction?). Annoying and somewhat surprising this was. I wondered if the reason this piece seemed so aloof online was because the cast is entirely naked throughout. But then I thought, totally naked people doing all sorts of things – this is rampant on the internet, why are these naked people so hard to find? Then I read this quote from Bel on his website: “I wanted to avoid two things : the erotic body and the perfectly muscular body, the body as warrior. Sex and power: in our entire culture (not only in dance) these stand for the two most dominating representations of the body, the primary instrument of dance, in a way that denies it its usual signs.” ( you can read full article here) This made me realize why a video documentation of a piece such as this is so elusive online. I’m not sure if people like or want bodies that are not channelled directly through ideas of sex and power. Perhaps it is too edgy or crude or degenerate, to look at bodies without a sexual agenda? Audiences always get very cross with this piece I think because there is so little movement that is conventionally recognized as ‘dance’. Also one of the cast urinates on stage which for some reason always upsets someone and they ask for money back. (I find this strange because very few people ask their money back when whatever government they pay taxes to decides to invade a country in order to benefit a few big corporations. I suppose it’s harder to walk out on an entire corrupt capitalist system than a theatre show.) This picture that I found on Google Images made me smile: mostcontroversial I guess someone has to be the ‘most controversial’ but Jérôme Bel doesn’t come across as a raging badass artist out to piss off world. If you watch one or two of his works ( and you can here: http://ubuweb.com/dance/bel.html ) or read any interview or article, he seems to be more of a insanely intelligent, chilled out guy who thinks very deeply about philosophies of dance and movement and bodies and choreography and shares these thoughts through very rewarding and beautiful creations. There is so much method and intellect in his work. And I find it interesting that ‘controversial’ can be equated with ‘intellectual’. In this piece, aside from the lack of garb, there is also no music except for some humming, there is one lightbulb for lighting, there is some chalk and lipstick for writing, there are beautiful moments of humour. It is an empty piece with incredible amounts of depth, so you can fill the whole thing up with thinking. And there is a lot  of thinking to do in this piece. There is also a brilliant amount of Thought put in to the piece. It is very very very clever. Swoon.  I realize I haven’t spoken that much about what happens, but rather I have raved about how good it is. Which I think may mean you should try your best to watch it. If you live in a sexy European, first-world country maybe your local library has it? Ok. JBEL1 jbel4 jbel6

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