On a cold, dark autumn night, Next Choreography had their spirits lightened by Jerome Bel’s ‘Gala’ – performed at Sadler’s Wells. It certainly wasn’t your average Tuesday evening – with wacky vibrant costumes, uplifting music and light hearted humour; Bell explores the individuality of dance, stereotypes within dance, whilst also celebrating the sheer pleasure dance can bring all of us. Despite the chaos that appeared to be unfolding on stage, it is clear that the cast were meticulously selected to ensure a perfectly diverse array of dancers (and non-dancers) – from the bounding ballerina to a sassy six year old to an old man with braces and a surprising sense of rhythm.
Opening the show was a series of images of different types of stages – puppet show, amphitheatre, West End theatre- you name it, the lot; although I did begin to think the whole show could just be pictures which made me die a little inside with boredom, when the show began to unfold it related well to the message on stage – everyone has their own way of doing things, every one has their own stage, everyone has their own talent, no-one is right or wrong, no talent is better than another talent.
Highlights of the show included when the entire cast all swapped costumes, watching a 70 year old man tying to copying a six year old dancing to Miley Cyrus and everyone’s interesting attempts to Moon Walk like Michael Jackson. The show was precisely timed so the audience were just on the brink of boredom before the section changed suddenly. It was both predictable and exciting at the same time – who would the cast copy next, what style will they do this time ? The most poignant moment was also when a young disabled dancer stood up out of his wheelchair, although this also made me feel a bit uncomfortable – was it incredibly patronising to him when the audience applauded and whooped? This is where I am left very uncertain, and many questions hang over my head such as; why is it acceptable to laugh at some of the dancers but not others? How do you choose a diverse cast, what do you look for ? How much of the show was actually choreographed, how much was improvisation? If it is choreography, is it the true style of the performers ? Inspired by the pictures at the beginning I was left wondering how different would this show be on another stage- I am sure if it was in a hall it would definitely look like a wedding reception with all the family dancing.
Overall this show did truly perk-up my week and most importantly made me want to get up dance ! It would be great to see again but with a different cast, and new a set of talents.