Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Eastman
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s debut as a choreographer was in 1999 with Andrew Wale’s contemporary musical, Anonymous Society. Since then he has made over 50 full-fledged choreographic pieces and picked up a slew of awards, including two Olivier Awards, three Ballet Tanz awards for best choreographer (2008, 2011, 2017) and the Kairos Prize (2009) for his artistic vision and his quest for intercultural dialogue. Cherkaoui’s initial pieces were made at Les Ballets C de la B – Rien de Rien (2000), Foi(2003) and Tempus Fugit(2004). He undertook parallel projects that both expanded and consolidated his artistic vision; d’avant (2002) with longstanding artistic partner Damien Jalet at Sasha Waltz & Guests company and zero degrees(2005) with Akram Khan. He has worked with a variety of theatres, opera houses and ballet companies. From 2004–2009 Cherkaoui was based in Antwerp as artist in residence at Toneelhuis, which produced Myth(2007) and Origine(2008). In 2008 Cherkaoui premiered Sutraat Sadler’s Wells. This award-winning collaboration with artist Antony Gormley and the Shaolin monks continues to tour the world to great critical acclaim. After his first commissioned piece in North America, Orbo Novo(Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet) and a series of duets such as Faun(which premiered at Sadler’s Wells as part of In the Spirit of Diaghilev) and Dunaswith flamenco danseuse María Pagés (both 2009), he launched his own company Eastman, resident at deSingel International Arts Campus (Antwerp). Spring 2010 saw him reunited with choreographer Damien Jalet and Antony Gormley to make Babel(words) which won an Olivier. That same year he created Rein, a duet featuring Guro Nagelhus Schia and Vebjørn Sundby, as well as Play, a duet with Kuchipudi danseuse Shantala Shivalingappa and Bound, a duet for Shanell Winlock and Gregory Maqoma as part of Southern Bound Comfort. In 2011 he created TeZukAand Labyrinth (for the Dutch National Ballet). In 2012 he created Puz/zle, gaining him a second Olivier. That year he also collaborated with Joe Wright on his film Anna Karenina, for which Cherkaoui helmed the choreography. 2013 saw the premiere of 4D and 生长genesis(Eastman),Boléro(co-created with Damien Jalet and Marina Abramović, for the Paris Opera Ballet), and m¡longa (Sadler’s Wells). He reunited with Joe Wright to co-direct A Season in the Congo at The Young Vic. In 2014, he created Noeticfor the GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, Mercy(from Solo for Two) for Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, which they performed at the London Coliseum and he directed his first opera, Shell Shock, for La Monnaie, with music by Nicholas Lens and text by Nick Cave. In 2015, Cherkaoui directed his first full-length theatre production Plutobased on the award-winning manga series by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki at Bunkamura in Tokyo, bringing the beloved manga character Astro Boy to life on stage, and was movement director for Lyndsey Turner’s Hamletstarring Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican Centre in London. He also made a trio Harbor Mecommissioned by the L.A. Dance Project, and choreographed a new Firebirdfor Stuttgart Ballet. In the same year, Cherkaoui created a new production Fractus Vfor his company Eastman, in which he also performs. Since 2015, Cherkaoui assumed the role of artistic director at the Royal Ballet Flanders, where he has created Fall(2015), Exhibition(2016) and Requiem(2017). He combines this function with his title as artistic director of Eastman and keeps creating new work along with the artistic entourage of this company, for example Qutb(2016), a trio commissioned by Natalia Osipova, Icon (2016) for GöteborgsOperans Danskompani and Mosaic (2017) for Martha Graham Dance Company. He directed the operas Les Indes galantes(2016) for the Bayerische Staatsoper, Satyagraha(2017) for Theater Basel and Pelléas et Mélisande(2018) with Damien Jalet and Marina Abramović for Opera Vlaanderen. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is also associate artist at Sadler’s Wells, London and Théâtre National de Bretagne, Rennes.
Funded in January 2010, Eastman was set up to produce and promote the work of artistic director/choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Cherkaoui’s work provides the audience with a vast array of projects and collaborations; ranging from contemporary dance, theatre, ballet, opera, musical and other forms of performance. His non-hierarchical thinking on movement, body language and culture is the basis of his artistic approach. Set in his native harbor city of Antwerp (Belgium), Eastman forms the central point for all of Cherkaoui’s work. Eastman is resident at deSingel International Art Campus (Antwerp). Eastman also coordinates all the work of Cherkaoui for other organizations. International partners of Eastman include La Monnaie Brussels, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Grande Halle de La Villette Paris, deSingel International Arts Campus Antwerp and Sadler’s Wells London. The Flemish Government and the BNP Paribas Foundation support the trajectory of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the projects of his company Eastman. Eastman was European Cultural Ambassador 2013.
Choreography & directed by: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Music composition:Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Felix Buxton, Kaspy N’dia
Additional music: Yarkin featuring The Sufi Vocal Masters, Al Adhan, Al Qantarah, Fadia Tomb El-Hage, Oli Savill (Percussion), traditional songs from the Amami islands in Japan
Live music: Kaspy N’dia
Sound design: Felix Buxton
Costumes: Jan-Jan Van Essche
Set design: Willy Cessa, Adam Carrée
Light design: Willy Cessa, Sam Mary
Video design: Paul Van Caudenberg
Dance: Mabrouk Gouicem, Nemo Oeghoede, Wang Qing, Stephanie Amurao, Nick Coutsier, Verdiano Cassone, Pol Van den Broek, Mohamed Toukabri, Kazutomi ‘Tsuki’ Kozuki, Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Oscar Ramos
Assistant choreographer / rehearsal director: Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Oscar Ramos
Artistic advisor and associate: Václav Kuneš
Vocal coach: Anna Sato
Music engineered by: Duncan F. Brown
Technical director: Patrick ‘Sharp’ Vanderhaegen
Wardrobe: Renata Epifanio
Implementation set: Martin Baarda
Trainee sound: Elrik Reinartz
Production / tour manager :Eline Lenaerts
Produced by: Eastman
Co-produced by: 420PEOPLE, Cultuurcentrum Berchem
Thanks to Francesca Maria Amante, Sabine Groenendijk, Vojtěch Rak, Antonin Rioche, Filip Staněk, Nicola Leahey, Jason Kittelberger, Satyagraha dancers of Eastman/Theater Basel, Karthika Naïr, Carly Heathcote
With the support of: The BNP Paribas Foundation, the Flemish Government and the Belgian Federal Government’s Tax Shelter programme. Eastman is resident at deSingel International Arts Campus, Antwerp.
The desert as a place of freedom and isolation. Invited by artistic director of 420PEOPLE, Václav Kuneš, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui presented a work-in-progress at the Czech dance festival Tanec Praha in 2017, a performance titled Nomad- with dancers of Eastman and 420PEOPLE. From this artistic research originates a new creation in 2019, in which Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Eastman further develop Nomadinto a full-length performance.
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui pieces together a mosaic drawn from the animate and inanimate elements of the desert. Meanwhile, from the dance floor, we get glimpses of the fluidity and adaptability of creatures that thrive in the harshest of conditions; the beautiful transience of sand dunes and winds that change direction and shape and speed in the twinkling of an eye; the intense physical and emotional thirst, the yearning for water and safety, for consolation that guide both animal actions and the human quest for spirituality. And above all, the spirit of togetherness, of friendship and symbiosis, key to survival and evolution in an arid world that would be insurmountable alone. After Qutb, Mosaic and Stoic, Nomad is the fourth piece with music by Basement Jaxx artist Felix Buxton, based on the Middle-East. Also, it is the fourth collaboration with fashion designer Jan-Jan Van Essche, after Icon,Satyagrahaand Memento Mori. His costumes forNomadare inspired by the richness of fabrics that inhabitants of the desert wear to protect themselves from the heat. And just like in Faun, there’s a giant image filling the back of the stage: Not a forest this time, but a desert.
This desolate landscape is a metaphor for ultimate freedom, but also for the impossibility to survive. We even get the feeling that this landscape is not in our own trusted world, especially when the animated backdrop shows the earth floating above the horizon like a moon. The dancing nomads seem to be isolated in this environment, like the world today sometimes seems like a desert in the eyes of minority groups, a dangerous place to be in.