Claire Bishop

IN THE LAST PERFORMANCE (A LECTURE), 2004, French choreographer Jérôme Bel narrates his own development, from dancer, during the 1980s; to student of poststructural theory, in the ’90s; to his present-day status as a leading proponent of European conceptual dance. The piece serves as a quasi retrospective of his oeuvre and his thinking; it is quintessential Bel in its self-referentiality and desire to recapitulate previous works. Bel sits casually behind a desk at the side of the stage, a fur coat slung over his chair, occasionally glancing at his laptop while telling us the checkered history of his reception—of the ideas that didn’t come off, the audiences that walked out, the need he felt to rethink his basic assumptions. It is dance without dance, closer to the classic artist’s talk, albeit delivered with more self-deprecating charm and illustrated not with PowerPoint but with

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