Jérôme Bel, Céderic Andrieux
Posted by Ariel Frager
A simple concept, really; Jérôme Bel’s piece, Céderic Andrieux is a portrait of a dancer. The story told by the eponymous dancer through a soft-spoken monotone French accented narration, punctuated with movement. It was the dance equivalent to a graphic novel with more words than pictures and a strangely funny balance of straightforward story telling and self-aware insight.
Watching Céderic Andrieux telling his life in dance story felt like what it might be like to watch someone’s inner most thoughts, the story we tell ourselves about who we are and how we got here. That story that sometimes keeps us up at night when we are too anxious to fall asleep and we lay there, practicing, rehearsing our story again and again hoping the familiarity of the milestones of our lives will help us drift off to sleep. His revelations about the everydayness of being a dancer and funny asides were enough to keep those of us in the audience always feeling slightly uncomfortable.
Andrieux stood in the center of the stage, at first in a grey hoodie and sweats, a microphone attached to his head and talked. He talked about his desire as a boy to be a dancer. He talked about watching the TV show Fame and being inspired by Debbie Allen’s call to pay a dancer’s dues in sweat. He talked about his first dance teacher thinking when she first saw him move that he will never make it in the dance world. And on and on, to the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris, to his eight years as a dancer in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in New York Andrieux tells this story, his story like a highlight reel. The most important dances of his career he demonstrates, without music, only his breathing into the microphone to accompany him on the bare stage of the Winningstad Theatre.
At one point in the performance he is demonstrating the warm up exercises the Merce Cunningham Dance Company would do each morning and through his bouncing he says, “This is the time I start to feel fucking bored.” And I thought to myself, I should be fucking bored too, but somehow I wasn’t. It felt like I was watching an insiders guide to the dance world and I was secretly happy to have been invited to this party. At the end of the piece, he played a song by The Police and stood on the stage, the lights now facing the audience. Andrieux stood there, nearly still, making eye contact with each audience member as the song played. I realized with the lights blaring in my eyes what this experiment was all about. We are the dancers, each of us has a story and a soundtrack and a favorite TV show, Céderic, Jérôme, me. Only, I’m not a dancer and my soundtrack is a Radiohead song.