It is not commonly known that the term ‘gala’ means ‘enjoyment’ in old French. With a quirky and humorous take on dance, renowned French choreographer Jérôme Bel’s latest creation will see a mixed bag of non-professional performers and a handful of seasoned artists take the stage, united by their shared love for the performing arts and the joy that it brings to them.
Bel was first introduced to the Singapore arts scene by TheatreWorks through the Flying Circus Project in 2004, where he choreographed and performed in Shirtology/The Last Performance. In 2006, TheatreWorks presented Bel’s collaboration with contemporary Thai dancer and choreographer Pichet Klunchun, ‘Pichet Klunchun and Myself’. His most recent work to be showcased in Singapore was at the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) in 2014, where he directed an ensemble from Theatre Hora to present Disabled Theatre. Continuously breaking boundaries with his forward-thinking approach to dance, Bel returns to Singapore this time to work with an entirely local cast comprising 20 distinct individuals of different ages with different abilities, body types, and personalities.
In a colourful display of their distinct personas, each performer takes the stage to express themselves individually. Each of them then leads the entire company in their chosen genre of dance in a fun-filled display of passion and vitality, allowing audiences to witness how the performing arts can empower seemingly ordinary individuals to become stars in their own right.
Classical dance forms, especially ballet, are often portrayed through failure, and how failure drives dancers to achieve perfection. In GALA, the importance placed on ‘failure’ becomes secondary. Instead, it gives way to ‘failing again’ and places emphasis on doing one’s best. By doing so, Bel empowers individuals to contribute their own unique energies and make the performance their own. ‘GALA’ creates a space where ability is dictated not by one’s limitations, but by being the best that one can be. It is a testament to the beauty of the individual.