performances > xiao ke > presentation

title : Xiao Ke (2020)

concept : Jérôme Bel
by and with : Xiao Ke
technical direction : Zi Han

estimated duration : 1 h in Mandarin , 1 h 15 for the French version
language : Mandarin or French

production : R.B. Jérôme Bel
coproduction : Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum (Shanghai), Les Spectacles Vivants - Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), R.B. Jérôme Bel

R.B Jérôme Bel is supported by the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles d'Ile-de-France, French Ministry for Culture, by the Institut Français, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, for its international tours and by ONDA - Office National de Diffusion Artistique - for its tours in France
R.B. Jérôme Bel :
artistic advice and executive direction : Rebecca Lasselin
production manager : Sandro Grando
website : www.jeromebel.fr


In response to a commission from the Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum in Shanghai, I collaborated with a dancer and choreographer originally from Yunnan but now living in Shanghai. Her name is Xiao Ke and she is 41 years old. The show will take place in Shanghai in November 2020.

We started working a few weeks ago by teleconference, because for ecological reasons, neither I nor my company fly anymore. In a way, it was a good thing because Xiao was confined to her home. Now it's the other way around, she can go out of her house but I can't. I sent her all the videos of my shows, asking her to tell me what she was interested in and offering to take them as she wished. She made choices throughout the body of my work and the result will be a solo that will reflect the evolution of dance and culture in China over the past 40 years.

I was so interested in the result that I thought I should go back and forth and show the show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. So we're working on another version of the show that I'm presenting on stage with Xiao Ke, by videoconference from Shanghai. It's a very experimental show. 

Jérôme Bel 15 April 2020

In this latest opus in his series of danced portraits, Jérôme Bel brings to the stage an autobiographical account of the dancer and choreographer Xiao Ke, underlying which is a history of contemporary China. By embedding the choreographer’s personal history in that of her native country, the piece condenses three centuries of political, economic and cultural revolutions.

Xiao Ke is the “return” version of a joint-project between the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the West Bund Museum Project in Shanghai, in which Jérôme Bel encouraged Xiao Ke to activate the score of the autobiographical monologue. In accordance with his ecological principles, Jérôme Bel organised rehearsals and the various exchanges from a distance, and has adapted this staging for the Parisian version. Alone onstage, the choreographer translates, puts into context and decrypts Xiao Ke’s interactions, the voice and image of whom will be broadcast onscreen, live from China. Breaking with theatrical convention, the constant switching between the here and now, and elsewhere, retraces the dancer’s career, alternating between folkloric, modern and contemporary dance, artistic and commercial performance. In doing so, it translates the country’s lightning-quick evolution from post-Maoist cultural reform to the rise of endemic capitalism, via the opening up of dialogue with the West.

Florian Gaité, pour le Festival d’Automne à Paris, 2021