One of the most anticipated performances at this year's festival is Pichet Klunchun and Myself, a staged conversation between French choreographer Jérôme Bel (whom the New York Times called a "dance metaphysician") and traditional Thai dancer Pichet Klunchun.
Bel is a notoriously polarizing choreographer; two critics reportedly got into a slapping match at the Paris premiere of 2003's The Show Must Go On, which features seemingly untrained dancers acting out the lyrics to popular songs. In 2002, an audience member sued the choreographer after attending a performance of Bel's self-titled show in which a dancer urinated onstage; according to an article in the Independent, the man claimed he was "deceived as to the true nature of the performance and as a result had suffered loss, upset, shock and distress. He had not been able to attend theatre since."
Pichet Klunchun, meanwhile, has likely never ruined theater for anyone: The classically trained dancer practices the highly codified Thai dance known as Khon, a centuries-old dance with a very specific symbolic language. The piece is conceived as a conversation across artistic and cultural differences, in which Klunchun explains to Bel, via word and dance, the history and symbolism of the dance he practices. Then, a baffled Klunchun gets a chance to interrogate Bel about the Frenchman's own approach toward contemporary dance, which may or may not convert you to an appreciation for the populist feats of non-dance (and onstage urination) for which Bel is best known.