Created in 1993 by Michel Reilhac, current director of cinema in Arte and one time director of the Forum des Images in Paris, the Bal Moderne has since proved an unprecedented success. The Bal Moderne has toured extensively both in Belgium and abroad.
The concept of the Bal Moderne is simple: 3 short choreographies of 3 or 4 minutes that have been specially made for people with no experience in dance, are taught to the public over the course of an evenings’ Bal. The atmosphere is one of concentrated fun, totally unlike a conventional dance class or an intimidatingly fashionable discotheque. People of all ages and walks of life are to be found dancing together, often hand in hand, enjoying a singular sense of solidarity, united in the sheer pleasure of dance.
The Bal Moderne’s success and the great demand for its return to Brussels confirms that it provides a much needed opportunity for people to mingle and move together without being judged or feeling self-conscious. The choreographers who teach the dances are especially skilled at conveying self-confidence. Whatever an individual member of the public’s ability, he or she will experience the satisfaction of achieving something new. Often it is those who imagined themselves to have two left feet that are the most surprised by their own talent. Plus, the Bal provides perfect circumstances for people to mix and socialize in a very uncomplicated, natural way — frequently soul sisters and brothers have been sought and found at the Bal Moderne!
The Bal Moderne remains, however, an artistic project. Professional choreographers create the dances and although they are simple, their strength and originality maintain a level of artistic quality throughout the Bal ensuring that, although a popular project it never becomes patronizing.
The Bal has, beyond any doubt, affected attitudes towards contemporary dance. The direct contact that the public establishes with artists has helped demystified the art form. New audiences have felt encouraged, first to see the work of the artists that participate in the Bal, and then to extend their theatre going to other performances.
Since the 2007/2008 season the organisation of the Bal Moderne is the responsability of Oonagh Duckworth, the original producer of the project since its outset in Paris.