Museum of Modern Art Staff Will Be Made to Dance for Visitors

Choreographer Jérôme Bel puts a unique spin on MoMA's Artist's Choice series.

MoMA staff will put on a dance performance for visitors. Photo: courtesy MoMA, New York.

Do you know that feeling when your employer asks you to do something that definitely wasn’t in the job description? Staff at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) do now. Because the French choreographer Jérôme Bel has enlisted 25 staffers to perform a dance for visitors.

The stunt is part of the institution’s Artist’s Choice series for which contemporary artists are invited to organize an exhibition drawn entirely from MoMA’s collection. But can museum employees be seen as part of the museum collection? Bel clearly thinks so.

“Bel shifted his focus from the artworks in the collection to MoMA’s staff,” a press release explained. “Eventually, Bel decided to turn his Artist’s Choice exhibition into a performance: MoMA Dance Company.”

The performance is inspired by the choreographer’s recent piece Company, Company, which features both amateur and professional dancers of different ages and backgrounds.

Choreographer Jérôme Bel. Photo: Vimeo.

Choreographer Jérôme Bel. Photo: Vimeo.

Additionally Bel wants each of the participating staffers to choreograph a brief solo dance of their choice. Visitors will no doubt be treated to some cringe-worthy routines.

According to Bel, the guiding principle behind the idea is threefold: to subvert the concept of the dance company as an organization of virtuosity, to upend the expectations that art-viewing audiences have of the museum, and to challenge the focus of Artist’s Choice installations on objects.

Following the choreographer’s mantra of dance as a medium of free expression that belongs to everyone, the project explores the social potential of dance by bringing together different communities through joint movement, as well as suspending workplace hierarchies by bringing together junior and senior employees in a place where their position within the rigid organizational structure is replaced by the fluidity of dance performance.

The MoMA Dance Company will perform during public hours in the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium from October 27-October 31, 2016.

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