GALA is about loving and showing who you are. Through dance, we witness people empowered through their individuality to dance the way they know how.
The hour-and-a-half show kicks off with a series of images projected on a huge screen. Audience members were shown theatres and all kinds of stages from every corner of the world one after another. There were grand sights that stole a couple of exclamations from the audience, while others earned tickled laughs. From the absolute luxurious stages to the barest open field, they are all a space for performance. The differences between them makes us question what a stage really is, its uniqueness and its form. That, is similar to the artistic expressions shared with us through the performers in GALA.
Made up of 20 individuals from all walks of life, the work was simple yet impactful in deconstructing the institutional representation of dance. As audience members, we were given a multitude of experiences of what ballet, waltz and a solo dance piece can be.
Following a series of dance types told to us through a flip board by the side of stage, the performance flowed smoothly from one to the other. It was engaging, inviting and most importantly, fun for performers and audience members alike.
Instead of asking for pure technique and “perfection” from the traditional point of view of dance, performers gave their best personalised interpretation of what each type of dance can be. This opens up the possibility of how and what makes up dancing, and whether it can even be a defined form of art.
Thoroughly fascinating and fun, audience members were soon cheering on and actively participating by the end of the show. The theatre no longer became an intimidating space of fierce attention or even judgment. The atmosphere was full of joy, which was inspired by the performers themselves.
Despite varying degrees of stamina, ability and dance training, every person on stage showed generosity in their little moments. The spirit of sharing and thoroughly enjoying what they were doing truly spread the love to the audience. By not hiding but wearing their differences loud and proud, this group challenges the general exclusion of individuals from the stage.
After all, who’s to say who and what should be on a stage, and what shouldn’t?
This empowerment is an on-going conversation, and GALA might just be a step closer to this change right here in Singapore.
GALA by Jérôme Bel achieved what they sought out to do – to be a collective celebration, to go against the idea of what it means to dance well and be your own boss. The work reminds us that art is something that should always be inclusive because it is about people, and as people, difference should always be embraced.
Originally written for Popspoken.