Gigs, dance, art

April 23rd, 2008: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui – Origine


Well, I had been lukewarm about Myth back in September, but this time I have no such reservations. Origine was probably my favorite of all of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui‘s efforts I have seen so far. I think it tops D’avant, because the sense of humor and mix of ancient music with contemporary winks are still there, and the dance is just better, my favorite as far as he’s concerned. As usual, the music was ancient and performed on stage, this time by three musicians from Sarband: Fadia el-Hage on vocals, Miriam Andersén on gothic harp and vocals, and Vladimir Ivanoff on percussiond and lute. I still like that kind of music, even more so as the dance was so clearly of and about today. The stage design was simple — especially by his standards — with a four paneled structure in the back featuring a small platform. The panels were backlit at times, and used for some shadow play that was all the more potent from its being used sparingly — great lighting throughout, by the way. Fewer bells and whistles, the focus was square on dance this time, and justifiably so. Shorted than his recent works as well, and that probably enhanced its intensity.

My favorite moments of pure dance were when all four dancers were involved, a very dynamic sequence at the very beginning, with a lot of quick motion, circling with outstretched arms and almost aggressive chopping — almost but not quiet, that was defused by a sense of flowing. Another beautiful sequence toward the end when each dancer in turn would flow in and out of the group — here the motions had a swaying quality and echoes of earlier moments. Each dancer had his solo parts, there were many combinations and the show was diverse with many highlights in different styles. At some points it was more like pantomime, as when a dancer played out a beating where he was both the victim and the perpetrators. But most of the time dance was prominent.

A personal favorite was a long sequence where one dancer would become everyday objects used by another — from shoes to chair to cigarette to clothes and many more, including a shower sequence where he was showerhead, soap, towel and bathrobe. It was still dancing though, and there was an understated poetic aspect to it that reminded me of Josef Nadj without the props and with a softer melancholy. It was funny as well, but to me it was first and foremost beautiful and imaginative.

I had a great time, and it felt good to see what I liked most about him come together like this at last. And to cap it off, at the very end, the back panels were showing a computer screen and finally a map; I realized the starting point was Manhattan from the single place name I read as it was zooming out: Jersey City, of all places. Small world indeed.

April 23, 2008 - Posted by | Dance | ,

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