Thoroughly enjoyed Jerome Bel’s “The Show Must Go On” (2005) at Stanford University last night. Interesting to see how the piece is an extension of the Judson-era innovations (mix of “professional” and “non-professional” performers that blurs that line, audience as also part of the spectacle, non-virtuosic movement, etc)–and yet so different from those forebears. In what I’ve been able to see of those late ’60’s-70’s works (and mostly glean from history books), an austere high-mindedness prevailed–almost like the audience was being castigated for not having paid due attention to the wondrous minutiae of the world until the artist forced you. And of course, a sense (intended or not) of intellectual elitism in the Judson-era works–you had to be “in” on the (sometimes obscure) ideas to feel part. The Bel, by contrast, is completely celebratory, of the individuals on stage and in the seats, and even of popular culture, the way those hit songs drew out our most earnest emotional selves. Yet it’s no less intellectually satisfying than the Judsons. And it doesn’t feel like it’s *trying* to be populist–rather, “The Show Must Go On” simply feels naturally non-elitist. Interesting, too, to think about the way Bel’s influence is playing out in Bay Area choreographers with performance art-leanings, like Keith Hennessy and Jess Curtis. In short, Stanford’s Jerome Bel Festival, which professor Janice Ross spearheaded (and which continues with two more events) is a gift.

More information on the Festival Jerome Bel here. More conversation here.

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