The Show Must Go On

Jérôme Bel

This piece was created in 2001 and is one of the most emblematic in Jérôme Bel´s career. The show examines the relationship between art and life and between casual and refined. The piece is set in a stage without any designs while a DJ is playing popular songs from different periods. Meanwhile dancers and people without any experience are dancing following the instructions from the song.

  • World premiere by: the Theatre de la Ville, Paris (France), January 4th 2001
  • Premiere by Compañía Nacional de Danza: at Teatros del Canal, Madrid (Spain), April 4th 2018
TheShowMustGoOn portada

With The Show Must Go On, Jérôme Bel dissects the performance mechanisms, staging about twenty performers and a DJ who plays the last thirty years hits one after another. He plays with the performance expectations and with mirror-effects between performers and spectators.

Where drama might demand or force my attention on a moment-by-moment basis, the gift of The Show Must Go On, in common with so much of Bel’s work, is that it gives me the space and the time to look, the space and the time to be bored, the space and the time in which to find an interest. The uniformity of the line, the slowness of change in the piece and the simplicity of movement, all hide (or rather, occasion) a wealth of vivid, amazing detail.
-Tim Etchells

The possibility of an art-piece, even a choreography, today is not to propose an utterance, but to invite the spectator to re-invent him/herself, or perhaps less utopic, to re-search his/her ideology of watching, of constructing Self, or articulating security. The artwork cannot say anything in itself, it can represent a political idea or concept, but today the artwork is a formulation of itself. The artwork can only investigate, or re-search, its own domain, and become self-conscious through reflection (per speculum in aenigmae) and through this awareness it can become an experience of the Self (the spectator) but never an experience of something else. To be part of an art-experience is always only the experience of the self.
-Marten Spangberg

R.B Jérôme Bel is supported by the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles d’Ile-de-France, French Ministry for Culture and Communication, by the Institut Français, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, for its international tours and by ONDA – Office National de Diffusion Artistique – for its tours in France.


  • Choreography:
    Jérôme Bel
  • Music:
    Tonight: The Rubettes (Wayne Bickerton y Tony Waddington), David Bowie, Nick Cave, Norman Gimbel y Charles Fox, J. Horner, W.Jennings, Mark Knopfler, John Lennon y Paul MacCartney, Louiguy, Galt Mac Dermott, George Michael, Erick “More” Morillo y M. Quashie, Edith Piaf, The Police y Hugh Padgham, Queen, Lionel Richie, A. Romero Monge y R. Ruiz, Paul Simon.
  • Technical Direction:
    Gilles Gentner
  • Production:
    Theatre de la Ville (Paris), Gasthuis (Amsterdam), Centre Choregraphique National Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon (Montpellier), Arteleku Gipuzkoako Foru Aldundia (San Sebastian), R.B. (París)
  • Production Manager:
    Sandro Grando
  • Staging:
    Dina Ed Dik and Henrique Neves
  • Running time:
    90 minutes (no break)
  • Premiere cast CND:
    Mar Aguiló, Elisabet Biosca, Sara Fernández, Agnès López, Shani Peretz, Aleix Mañé, Daan Vervoort, Andrea Aranda, Cristian Moreno, Anabel Poveda, David García, Charo González, Paola Panizza Mieza, Inés Morales, José Manuel Peinado, Jorge Merino, Enrique González, Ana Fernández, Eduardo Castr, Oscar Manhenzane, Víctor Fernández, Emilio Buale, Víctor Carballeira