Hentyle brought me to my first dance theatre performance on Friday. From my lenses….it was erm..different. I liked the genre, but didn’t have much of a reaction to the piece.

The production was by Moroccan-Flemish choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, titled Myth. It was a physical exploration of archetypal mythological characters, a story telling through dance is as much as I can make of it. The production was dazzling no doubt. The set was a recreation of a libary, or what Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui calls a purgatory of sorts. The music, 12th and 13th century western medieval music, was live, with the musicians breaking the “orchestral wall,” entering the space not only sonorously but also physically. Here’s the description from his website and some youtube links:

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s performances are big storybooks, with clear references to reality. The space is a concrete location, demonstrable but not necessarily unambiguous. The scene is a demonstrable space, now defined as a Purgatory, or a waiting room outside a big gateway, but you do not know whether the people will be sent to heaven or hell, to a doctor or a god, or back into the world. 

The characters who end up in this in-between world either archetypically represent or are divided between earthly (material) and heavenly (spiritual) poles; between their female (receptive) and male (active) sides; between and eastern (holistic) and a western (dualist) consciousness; between good and evil; they are visited and guided by their shadow side, by their animal nature.

With a compositional technique comparable to the paintings of Brueghel and Bosch, Myth creates a pictorial encyclopaedia of mainly Western myths and archetypes that are brought to life in three dimensions. The contemporary visual idiom of the Japanese manga is also a source of inspiration.

For Myth  Sidi Larbi Chekaoui works together with Nienke Reehorst and the 21 performers who include Damien Jalet and Christine Leboutte, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui ‘draws’ an eclectic world of movement that is accompanied live by the polyphonic singing of Patrizia Bovi and her Micrologus ensemble. (www.toneelhuis.be)

Aesthetically, it wasn’t breathtaking to me, so any reaction I had was very cerebral and my own imposition of what I think the artistes are trying to portray. I don’t like that kind of art let alone theatre, where clues are so ambiguous and unfocused that every and any interpretation is possible. I’ll just leave you with the synopsis and youtube videos, maybe you’ll be more captivated than I was.

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