Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Myth

Review in Issue 20-3 | Autumn 2008

The creations of the young Belgian/Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui could perhaps be best described not as dance pieces or theatre works but as places in their own right. Notwithstanding the detailed, if ambiguous, library/lobby setting of Myth, the sense persists of Cherkaoui conjuring a little city, teeming with all the fluxes of urban living – there are twenty-one people on stage here (plus a skeleton in silver sneakers) – and the effects, momentary and cumulative, of a joyously strenuous plurality.

Though the suitably abundant programme notes locate the topical focus of Myth as personal trauma, it is precisely this aesthetic, which values complexity and proliferation and seeks to preserve rather than dispel their challenge to an audience, that fuels Cherkaoui’s awesome radiance. Of particular significance is his concern with how individual experience – devising around which is the departure point for his works, using specific overarching questions like Goat Island do – meets social contexts and shapes civic meaning. His play with the disjunctive grammars of body and clothing, and the poignant deformations of personal identity which arise from that tension, especially fascinates here.

Coolly received in some quarters, perhaps because Cherkaoui’s signatures no longer carry the impact of surprise that Rien de Rien did in 2000, Myth (created in 2007) nonetheless reconfirms its maker as an exceptional technician of multiplicity, whose depth, even more than his virtuosity, continues to astound and inspire. Like William Forsythe, Cherkaoui’s work vastly exceeds his medium, to become of importance to everyone, whether they know it or not.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2008

This article in the magazine

Issue 20-3
p. 34