Simone Mousset | BAL 2017
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For a première, this is a stroke of genius. With BAL, Simone Mousset signs the first ballet-documentary ever shown in the country. (…) A piece with a perfect rhythm.

Marie-Laure Rolland, Luxemburger Wort


Fantastical and avant-garde. Courageous and funny. (…) A thoroughly successful coup!

Anina Valle Thiele, Letzebuerger Land


“Everything is invented!” (…) The final turn of events allows a completely different re-reading of what we thought we had understood. And then, after the shock, I applauded! We were no longer in the ballet-documentary, but in a conceptual project, aimed at deconstructing the mechanisms of manipulation and identity tensions in our society.

Marie-Laure Rolland, Luxemburger Wort


BAL takes the form of a danced documentary and addresses the current climate of fake news, nation branding (and worse), and the construction of a national mythology, by basing itself on a “true” (entirely invented) story of national glory. In spite of its absurdity – or perhaps because of it – the story was widely believed and circulated until the truth was finally revealed on International Dance Day 2017.


BAL is inspired by the lives of two legendary figures of Luxembourgish folk dancing, Josephine and Claudine Bal. Born in Luxembourg in the 1920s, the sisters Bal have developed Luxembourgish folk dancing into a highly theatricalised form and, with their company, the Ballet National Folklorique du Luxembourg, have performed to critical acclaim both in Luxembourg and abroad from 1962 to 1976.


The piece traces the lives and tragic fates of the sisters and their families, as well as the early failures and gradual successes of the company. By meeting and training with the last living former dancer of the troupe, the British Alice Lawrence, it was possible to reconstruct fragments of the original repertoire from the company’s first show “Josiane, the Countrygirl”. These scenes show  fascinating references to (if not blatantly stolen moves of) Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham’s work, with whom the sisters had trained in New York. Still, BAL offers a rare glimpse of an extraordinary Luxembourgish cultural heritage that is largely lost – not least because all of my informants have very recently passed away.


Based on an extensive documentation collected in international archives as well as on unique testimonials by contemporaries of the family Bal, the piece is further supported by an exhibition of rare historical photographs and other elements that document the sisters’ early life and gradual success.


In English and some Luxembourgish.


Concept and direction: Simone Mousset

Performed by and devised in collaboration with: Simone Mousset, Elisabeth Schilling

Music: Maurizio Spiridigliozzi

Text: Simone Mousset (with support from Elisabeth Schilling)

Artistic and dramaturgical advice: Anne-Mareike Hess

Costumes: Mélanie Planchard

Production: Simone Mousset

Co-production: Mierscher Kulturhaus

Developed with the support of: the Ministry of Culture Luxembourg, TROIS C-L Centre de Création Chorégraphique Luxembourgeois, the Fonds Culturel National Luxembourg and SACEM Luxembourg.


The piece BAL was in part created during the winter residency Résidanse at the Mierscher Kulturhaus.