In Rein Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui explores the implications of purity. The way that purifying a body makes a body disappear. Absolute purity actually means that nothing is left over.
Together with the Norwegian dancers, Guro Nagelhus Schia and Vebjørn Sundby, he seeks a movement language that can depict this disappearance. The musician and composer Tsubasa Hori, who used to play with the Japanese Kodo ensemble, plays the piano in Rein.
The dancer aims not to disturb the air around her body whilst keeping her body straight. Her partner approaches her gently and brushes her body with a soft cloth. Every touch, no matter how gentle, impacts her entire body. Purifying the body equals disappearance of the body. Absolute purity means no longer existing.
Rein premiered at the festival Dansand in Ostend.
Play pivots on two intertwined conceits: the idea of playacting, the role playing required in theatre; and the games people play, in this case, a man and a woman. Games of chess, games of seduction, ploys where male-female energies are pitted, not so much against each other as in winning over the other. The premise of assuming another role, of putting on masks assumes shades of wish-fulfilment: there is here the child’s – or artist’s – desire to sidestep one’s image, to elude the trappings that accompany a name, a form or a history.
But in the process of evading the self, sometimes more is revealed than concealed. In Play, Shantala Shivalingappa weaves in vocabulary of kuchipudi, both rhythmic patterns and gestural codes, quietly and naturally, into a piece that constructs itself around tales of love and separation – sometimes beyond life. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui revels in the expressive canvas this provides where a minute inflection of the hand can transform the narrative, taking him into a world that he does not often get the chance to explore. Their voices dance, lending credence to Sidi Larbi’s conviction that singing is internal, unseen choreography.
Play came into being, above all, thanks to the insight and impetus of one person: Pina Bausch. The late choreographer, who had long championed the work of Cherkaoui and Shivalingappa, invited both of them to work together in 2008, and present their collaboration at the last edition of her festival. They continue to build on that initial plinth, feeling the need now more than ever to fulfil her wish. Play is dedicated to her.
=Labyrinth /the National Ballet Amsterdam
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is fascinated by labyrinths and by the way branches and offshoots arise and come together again – not only in labyrinths and trees, but also in cultures and religions.Man is surrounded by labyrinths. Each new place or city is a labyrinth, as is the body. You have to go through each piece of skin, each cell to get to the center. Life should be lived by scanning and experiencing everything, by daring to venture into every side lane to come to the essence gradually.
Cherkaoui created Labyrinth for 24 dancers of the National Ballet Amsterdam. The Polish composer Szymon Brzóska wrote the score and Tim Van Steenbergen designed the costumes.
Visionary Japanese manga artist and animator Osamu Tezuka provided the inspiration for TeZukA. Working with an international cast of 11 performers, 3 musicians and a calligrapher, Cherkaoui explores Tezuka’s fascinating world – a blend of tradition, science fiction and contemporary reality. Two of Tezuka’s manga stories which are well known in Japanese popular culture – Astro Boy and Buddha – particularly captured Cherkaoui’s imagination in creating this work. TeZukA features a specially commissioned score from award-winning composer Nitin Sawhney with lighting and set design by Willy Cessa and costumes by fashion designer Sasa Kovacevic. Tezuka’s original illustrations are projected alongside work by video artist Taiki Ueda and calligraphy by Tosui Suzuki.
Using the dancers’ movements to trace the physical evolution of Tezuka’s drawings – from a line on a blank page to a single Japanese kanji (letter) to a fully-formed manga character – Cherkaoui brings the ‘God of Manga’s’ philosophy, drawings and characters to life.