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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Disabled Theater
Jérôme Bel & Theater HORA at New York Live Arts
Novemeber 12, 2013
Julia Häusermann and Remo Beuggert in Jerome Bel’s Disabled Theater © Michael Bause
Have you ever seen this company/ before?
Tell us a bit about your history with this group/performer?
This was my first time sitting down with either Jerome Bell or Theater HORA's work.
Not so secretly, I ADORE teaching adults of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds to dance. This piece was intriguing because it can be so inspiring to witness differently-abled bodies experience the pure joy of movement. Making vast varieties of dance accessible to all types of people is a real passion of mine.
Hi, my name is Jamie Benson. I'm an off-beat New York-based dancer, choreographer and instructor and am going to go-to-town reviewing this thing. Thanks in advance.
What was your favorite moment(s)? What inspired you?
The choreographer had each disabled performer stand alone on stage for 1 minute (it was more profound then it sounds). Day to day, many of us work hard to avoid looking at mentally and physically challenged people for too long. This was a surprise, especially for a "dance performance".
It was fun to see each disabled performer come up with their own solo- not tomention perform with such reckless abandon. How people choose to move is always fascinating but it was also deeply conflicting in this instance. These charming people were being put on display more then they were collaborating with a choreographer, and as one performer even stated, 'like freaks at the circus." I was not altogether sure if I ever liked what was happening or not.
One lady called herself a f-ing mongrel with a gleeful sort of disdain for the audience. She made me laugh with her a lot. I appreciated her moxy. I appreciate them all for their moxy. Even the most trained dancer can have trouble making themselves as vulnerable as these performers did. Kudos.
Describe as plainly and specifically as you can what actually happened during this performance.
We are looking for non-judgmental reporting. No need for complete sentences. Phrases and word lists are fine. YOU CAN DESCRIBE : the artists, their activities, the movement, the qualities of movement, the music, the use of time, the use of space OR anything else you observed.
- Introduction of the performers.
- There is a translator (the performers are German)
- Performers are seated in chairs in a semi-circle on stage.
- Choreographer requests actions from the performers (say your name, describe your disability in your own words, create a solo)
Do any images, colors or feelings pop into your head when you think about this show?
- Comic-con Question and Answer (minus the Q&A)
- "Germany's Got Talent"
Describe any or all of these elements: music, lighting, the venue.
How did they contribute (or not) to your enjoyment of this performance?
- Spare lighting, a general wash
- Pre-recorded music
- Black box theater
Due to the panel-like / conference quality of the event, it sadly lacked a transporational effect. That must of been deliberate right?
Would you like to see this performance / company again?
Would you recommend it to a friend? Why or why not?
I'd totally be interested in experiencing the disabled theater troupe perform a play. I'm curious how they harness their qualities in a more classically structured project. Plus, many of them were just sweethearts. I root for them ya know? Not sure what to think about Jerome Bell. I didn't get a sense of his work from this event.
What would you like to have seen more of? Less of?
Quicker transitions between the segments would have been appreicated by everyone, the performers included.
It seemed like a missed opportunity to not have the troupe dance with each other (there were only solos). You could tell they were hungry to dance, and even sing together. The publicity promoted it as a "collaboration" but the whole piece appreared to be absent of collaboration. The marketing was misleading. With more collaboration between the performers and the choreographer, they could have really launched the revolutionary quality of the idea. #InMyHumbleOpinion.
Perhaps the whole happening was just meant for us to spend more time empathizing with differently-abled people. If that was the case, it worked fine. It was definitely an interesting night.
If you could, what would you ask the choreographer / dancers?
Why didn't you collaborate more with the dancers?