Damien Jalet is an independent Belgian and French choreographer and dancer whose work has been presented all over the world. Interested in the capacity of dance constantly reinventing itself by conversing with other media such as visual art, music, cinema, theatre and fashion; his works are often collaborative.
He worked as a choreographer and dancer for companies such as les ballets C de la B, Sasha Waltz and Guests, Chunky Move, Eastman, NYDC, Hessisches Staatsballetts, Paris Opera Ballet, Scottish Dance Theatre, Iceland Dance Company, GöteborgsOperans Danskompani and few more.
Earliest works as choreographer include: Babel(words), co-signed with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui with a set by Antony Gormley (two Olivier Awards), presented in 2016 at the Cour d’Honneur du Palais des Papes in Avignon; Les Médusés, a choreographic installation for 30 performers in some of the main rooms of the Louvre in Paris; Yama for the Scottish Dance Theatre with set design by American artist Jim Hodges; Boléro which he directed together with Cherkaoui and the performance artist Marina Abramović for the Paris Opera Ballet; Inked for the British Kathak dancer Aakash Odedra; Obsidian Pieces for the Icelandic Dance Company in collaboration with Erna Ómarsdóttir (Icelandic National Performing Art Award Grimman 2015 for the Best Choreographer).
In October 2015, he choreographed Gravity Fatigue, conceptualised by fashion designer Hussein Chalayan at Sadler’s Wells in London.
In 2016, THR(O)UGH, a choreography for Hessisches Staatsballetts, collaborating again with Jim Hodges, Austrian composer Christian Fennesz and designer Jean-Paul Lespagnard, nominated for Best Choreographer at German theatre awards Der Faust.
He created the film The Ferryman with the director Gilles Delmas, highlighting the relation between his works and existing rituals practiced in Bali and Japan. This film received the exclusive participation of Marina Abramović and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. It was presented during the whole Venice Biennale at Palazzo Fortuny in May 2017.
He directed Vessel together with Japanese visual artist Kohei Nawa, a collaboration initiated during a four-month-long residency at Villa Kujoyama, Kyoto. The performance for seven dancers has been presented in many important venues in Japan such as RHOM Theater Kyoto and Art Site Naoshima, and after being performed major venues worldwide, it got nominated at UK’s Olivier awards as Best New Dance Production.
He is the 2017 artistic director of the UK National Youth Dance Company, for which he created Tarantiseismic which premiered at Sadler’s Wells.
Additionally, since 2017, he is resident artist at the Théâtre National de Bretagne (TNB) directed by Arthur Nauzyciel, a theater director Jalet often collaborates with (Julius Caesar, Le Musée de la mer, Splendid’s, Jan Karski, La Dame aux camélias…).
In 2017 he directed Skid for GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, featuring 17 dancers and entirely performed on a ten square meter platform inclined at 34 degrees. Damien Jalet received international critical acclaim for his numerous choreographed sections of the film Suspiria directed by Luca Guadagnino, starring Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Jessica Harper and Ingrid Caven and with an original score by Radiohead’s frontman Thom Yorke.
In February 2018, he directed his first opera Pelléas et Mélissande alongside Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui with a set by Marina Abramović, costumes by Iris van Herpen and videos by Marco Brambilla at the Antwerp Opera. He also created the work Omphalos for the 20 dancers of the Mexican national contemporary dance company CEPRODAC, teaming again with Marihiko Hara and Ryuichi Sakamoto, as well as Jean-Paul Lespagnard and collaborating for the first time with Mexican scenographer Jorge Ballina.
In 2019, he became artist in residency at Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris. He choreographed the entirely danced film Anima directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Thom Yorke who also scored the film. It premiered in June in IMAX Theatres and on Netflix. For this work, also nominated Best Musical Film at the 2019 Grammy’s awards, he won the Best Choreography Award at the UK Music Video Awards. The same year, he created four numbers with Madonna for her first theatrical tour Madame X, including the show opening and a live version of the 1998 song Frozen.
In 2020 he directed the runway show of Jun Takahashi’s Undercover at the cirque d’hiver in Paris with a collection inspired Akira Kurosawa ‘s “throne of blood”, that joined later the list of the top runways of all time according to Tim Blanks of B.O.F.
In September 2020, as a reaction to the covid-19 sanitary crisis, he accepted the last minute offer from the Paris Opera Ballet to create a piece performed on the proscenium of Palais Garnier; he creates Brise-lames with visual artist JR, pianist Koki Nakano and dancer Aimilios Arapoglou, Jalet’s artistic partner in all his key projects.
His next projects include the creation Mist for Dutch company NDT1 and Planet [wanderer] that is planned to premiere in theatre de Chaillot in September 2021, both projects are collaborations with Kohei Nawa.
As a teacher, Jalet has also taught his specific technique using centrifugal force in many companies and institutions including Pina Bausch Company, ImPulsTanz Vienna, Atelier de Paris, and Architanz Tokyo.
Damien Jalet was titled Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2013.