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The 12th International Contemporary Dance Body/Mind Festival is taking place on 20-27 September 2013. One of its highlights is the newest production by French choreographer Jérôme Bel, known also as “a philosopher of dance”. His work is a permanent fixture at the festival. His first piece Jérôme Bel was shown here already in 2001; in 2005 he returned with The Last PerformanceandShirtology, and in 2011 he joined forces with Warsaw’s Gustaw Holoubek Dramatic Theatre [Teatr Dramatyczny m. st. Warszawy im. H. Holoubka] to produce the largest-scale music show The Show Must Go Onfeaturing twenty Polish performers.

This year Bel will treat the festival’s audience to an extraordinary performance Disabled Theater, produced together with Theatre HORA, the best-known Swiss theatre formed by people with learning disabilities. Since it premiered in 2012, the show has been reaping prizes and distinctions. It has toured Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy and South Korea. Last month it was performed at the prestigious festival Berliner Festspiele, whose programme is written by a panel of independent critics who select ten best productions out of over 400 pieces of the season.

Disabled Theaterplays with our perception exploring the reasons for the omnipresent normativity which pigeonholes us all. It asks what “normality” is in the context of disability; how to work with actors whose motor skills are non-normative versus those with learning disabilities; who are the actors with the Down syndrome, who learn slower than the rest; who are the audience, who do not know how to react to the actors’ disability?

Jérôme Bel about the audience – actors relationship:

You don’t know how to react when you’re confronted with them, their presence is hugely embarrassing because they’re not represented in the public domain. And for as long as that is the case, there will continue to be embarrassment and uneasiness. The only method is confrontation. You have to be able to be in contact with them. The theatrical device is a way of provoking this encounter. Sure, it carries risks [of voyeurism but] I’m absolutely convinced that this community has to be given greater visibility. (…) I’d say that I’d prefer to show badly than not to show at all.



Theatre HORA & Jérôme BelDisabled Theater

20-27 September 2013, Witkiewicz Studio Theatre, Warsaw (tickets on sale as of 10 August at the theatre’s box offices)


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