BABEL(words) takes as its starting point the specific moment in the tale of the Tower of Babel when God punishes those who built a tower in his name, causing chaos by splintering them into different languages, cultures and lands.
That is to say that on Day 1 of rehearsal, a microcosm of 18 performers from 13 countries, with 15 languages, 7 religious backgrounds and numerous performance modes between them, joined choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet, as well as visual artist Antony Gormley, to embark upon a new journey.
And it was in the swirling maelstrom of identity, nationhood, and culture that they found their inspiration. Where language is both verbal and physical, where it unites and divides, makes communication both possible and impossible, and is loaded with meaning at the same time as being profoundly meaningless.
Both in process and production, what grew was a city of multiplicity, a network of possibilities, where Gormley's huge 3-dimensional frames are raised, knocked down and transformed, as if made of nothing but our thoughts. Space is dissected and appropriated, creating territories, axes and borders that hint at the often random but sometimes deadly geo-political divisions of land, as well as evoking the boundaries and limitations we impose on ourselves and each other. But, of course, by also offering shelter and relief in a landscape of chaos and complexity, structures enable tender, private and intimate moments, without which none of us could survive.
The city is not dissimilar to the landscape French philosopher Michel de Certeau strolls through in his work ‘The Practice Of Everyday Life', where wanderers wander blindly, taking decisions by the millisecond, knowing not what they do, nor why they do it, what it means or where it will lead. People stumble into choices of belief, community and identity that as well as giving support - close doors, build boundaries and set limits.
And of course they build ivory towers, not just as a demonstration of status and wealth, but also in search of some kind of higher knowledge and enlightenment. The aerial view of, and distance from, those silent patterns far down below bring feelings of comfort, control and order, because as the old sign at the top of the Empire State building tells us - ‘it's hard to be down when you're up'!
Indeed Cherkaoui and Jalet's journey was informed by their own profound ‘belief in the belief that something matters' and their joint search for what that something might be. During the process the show revealed to its makers that what they were doing was turning the Tower of Babel upside down: what mattered was not the external multiplicity of our (regional, spiritual, linguistic, physical...) differences, but the underlying bond of what unites rather than divides us, and therefore the responsibilities we all share.
Source: Maison de la Danse programming
Damien Jalet is a French and Belgian freelance choreographer and performer. Since 2000 he’s been working as the closest and most regular collaborator of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, within Les ballets C. de la B., Toneelhuis and Eastman vzw (he danced in "Rien de Rien", "Fo", "Tempus Fugit", "Myth" and recently "TeZukA").
In 2002 Jalet and Cherkaoui created "d’avant", together with Luc Dunberry and Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola, produced by Sasha Waltz and guests. Jalet and Cherkaoui also signed "Babel(words)". Damien Jalet also regularly works with Icelandic choreographer Erna Ómarsdóttir. Together they’ve been creating a number of works in collaboration with visual artist Gabriela Fridriksdóttir. Ómarsdóttir and Jalet also created "Black Marrow" for the renowned Australian company Chunky Move at the Melbourne international festival 2009.
In 2008 Jalet premiered "Three Spells" with dancer Alexandra Gilbert and composer Christian Fennesz for the Tokyo International Arts Festival. He also worked with other renowned choreographers, such as Wim Vandekeybus ("The day of heaven and hell") and Akram Khan (for whom he devised a solo segment in the piece "Desh")
Jalet has developed a big number of collaborations with high-level artists in different fields, such as theater director Arthur Nauzyciel, visual artists (Antony Gormley, Jim Hodges), musicians (Lady and Bird, Olof Arnalds, Florence + The Machine, Editors). He also worked with photographer Nick Knight and designer Bernhard Willhelm (the video "Men in tights") and with philosopher Giorgio Agemben and contemporary musician Stefano Scodanibio (the opera "Il cielo sulla terra").
In february 2013 he directed an important choreographic installation named "les médusés" in some of the greatest rooms of Louvre museum in Paris with the participation of more than 30 artists from different disciplines. In Mai 2013 he creates in collaboration with Cherkaoui and legendary performance artist Marina Abramovic, a new version of Ravel's "Bolero" for the Paris Opera Ballet, the costumes were designed by Givenchy's artistic director Riccardo Tisci and the 11 dancer's cast included étoiles Aurélie Dupont, Marie Agnès Gillot and Jérémie Bélingard.
Source : Damien Jalet’s website
More information : damienjalet.com
Cherkaoui, Sidi Larbi
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s debut as a choreographer was in 1999 with Andrew Wale’s contemporary musical Anonymous Society. Since then, he has made more than 20 fully-fledged choreographic pieces and picked up a slew of prestigious awards.
In 2008, Sadler’s Wells named him as an Associate Artist, and since 2010 he has been artistic director of the Festival Equilibrio in Rome. He also has been appointed as the new artistic director of the Royal Ballet Flanders and will take up the post on 1 September 2015.
While Cherkaoui’s initial pieces ("Rien de Rien", "Foi", "Tempus Fugit") were made as a core member of the Belgian collective les ballets C de la B, he also made work that both expanded and consolidated his artist vision: "Ook" (2000) with Nienke Reehorst and the mentally disabled actors of Theater Stap, "D’avant" (2002) with Damien Jalet and dancer-singers of the Sasha Waltz & Guests company and zero degrees (2005) with Akram Khan. Between 2006-2009, during his stint as associate artist at Het Toneelhuis in Antwerp, he extended his exploration of the equations between self and otherness through "Sutra" (2008), his dialogue with the warrior monks of the Shaolin Temple and "Dunas" (2009) alongside flamenco bailaora, Maria Pagés, and "Play" (2010) with kutchipudi danseuse Shantala Shivalingappa.
In 2010, with the founding of his company Eastman (in residence at deSingel International Artcampus) in Antwerp, Cherkaoui began a new phase in his trajectory, marked by the multiple-award-winning Babel, co-choreographed with Damien Jalet and designed by Antony Gormley. "TeZukA" (2011) – his homage to Osamu Tezuka, the founding father of modern manga – and "Puz/zle" (2012) followed. 2013 saw the premiere of 4D and "生长genesis" (Eastman), "Boléro" (co-created with Damien Jalet and Marina Abramovic, for the Ballet of the Opera of Paris) and "M¡longa" (for Sadler’s Wells).
He continues to work with a variety of theatres, opera houses and ballet companies from the world (Dutch National Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, GöteborgsOperan Danskompani, Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon in Tokyo, Stuttgart Ballet. Los Angeles Dance Company). Cherkaoui also received much international acclaim for his choreography in Joe Wright’s feature film Anna Karenina (2012). Cherkaoui directed and choreographed Shell Shock (2014), an opera for La Monnaie (Brussels) with music by Nicholas Lens and text by Nick Cave.
In 2015, Cherkaoui directed his first full-length theatre production Pluto based 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 Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican Centre in London. He also made a trio Harbor Me, and choreographed a new Firebird for Stuttgart Ballet. In the same year, Cherkaoui created a new production Fractus V for his company Eastman, in which he also performs, and made his first work for the Royal Ballet of Flanders Fall.
Cherkaoui assumed the role of artistic director at the Royal Ballet of Flanders in 2015. He is also associate artist at Sadler’s Wells, London, guest artistic director of the National Youth Dance Company, as well as dance director of Festival Equilibrio in Rome.
Source: Eastman⎜Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
More information : east-man.be
Author, filmmaker and video artist Charles Picq entered working life in the 70s through theatre and photography. A- fter resuming his studies (Maîtrise de Linguistique - Lyon ii, Maîtrise des sciences et Techniques de la Communication - grenoble iii), he then focused on video, first in the field of fine arts at the espace Lyonnais d'art Contemporain (eLaC) and with the group « Frigo », and then in dance.
On creation of the Maison de la Danse in Lyon in 1980, he was asked to undertake a video documentation project that he has continued ever since. During the ‘80s, a decade marked in France by the explosion of contemporary dance and the development of video, he met numerous artists such as andy Degroat, Dominique Bagouet, Carolyn Carlson, régine Chopinot, susanne Linke, Joëlle Bouvier and regis Obadia, Michel Kelemenis. He worked in the creative field with installations and on-stage video, as well as in television with recorded shows, entertainment and documentaries.
His work with Dominique Bagouet (80-90) was a unique encounter. He documents his creativity, assisting with Le Crawl de Lucien and co-directing with his films Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux and 10 anges. in the 90s he became director of video development for the Maison de la Danse and worked, with the support of guy Darmet and his team, in the growing space of theatre video through several initiatives:
- He founded a video library of dance films with free public access. This was a first for France. Continuing the video documentation of theatre performances, he organised their management and storage.
- He promoted the creation of a video-bar and projection room, both dedicated to welcoming school pupils.
- He started «présentations de saisons» in pictures.
- He oversaw the DVD publication of Le tour du monde en 80 danses, a pocket video library produced by the Maison de la Danse for the educational sector.
More recently, he launched the series “scènes d'écran” for television and online. He undertook the video library's digital conversion and created the website numeridanse.tv, an international video library for dance online.
His main documentaries are: enchaînement, Planète Bagouet, Montpellier le saut de l'ange, Carolyn Carlson, a woman of many faces, grand ecart, Mama africa, C'est pas facile, Lyon, le pas de deux d'une ville, Le Défilé, Un rêve de cirque.
He has also produced theatre films: Song, Vu d'ici (Carolyn Carlson), Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux, 10 anges, Necesito and So schnell, (Dominique Bagouet), Im bade wannen, Flut and Wandelung (Susanne Linke), Le Cabaret Latin (Karine Saporta), La danse du temps (Régine Chopinot), Nuit Blanche (Abou Lagraa), Le Témoin (Claude Brumachon), Corps est graphique (Käfig), Seule et WMD (Françoise et Dominique Dupuy), La Veillée des abysses (James Thiérrée), Agwa (Mourad Merzouki), Fuenteovejuna (Antonio Gades), Blue Lady revistied (Carolyn Carlson).
Source : Maison de la Danse
Choreography : Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Damien Jalet
Choreography assistance : Nienke Reehorst
Interpretation : Navala Chaudhari, Francis Ducharme, Darryl e. Woods, Jon Filip Fahlstrom, Damien Fournier, Ben Fury, Vala Runarsdottir, Christine Leboutte, Ulrika Kinn Svensson, Kazutomi Kozuki, Sandra Delgadillo Porcel, James O'Hara, Helder Seabra
Artistic consultancy / Dramaturgy : Lou Cope
Stage direction : Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Damien Jalet
Live music : Patrizia Bovi, Mahabub Khan, Sattar Khan, Gabriele Miracle, Kazunari Abe (Kodo)
Lights : Adam Carrée
Costumes : Alexandra Gilbert
Other collaborations : Antony Gormley (concept visuel et design)
Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work : Production Eastman vzw et Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie/De Munt (Bruxelles) coproduction : Fondation d'entreprise Hermès, Etablissement Public du Parc et de la Grande Halle de la Villette (Paris), Sadler's Wells (Londres), Festival Boulevard (Den Bosch Pays- Bas), Festspielhaus (St. Pölten), Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, International Dance festival Switzerland - Migros Culture Percentage, Fondazione Musica per Roma (Rome) et Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele (Allemagne) Babel (words) est une commande de DASH ARTS (Grande Bretagne) pour la Dash Arabic Series, dans le cadre de la Saison des arts arabes en 2010 avec le soutien du Garrick Charitable Trust Eastman est une compagnie en résidence à Het Toneelhuis à Anvers.
Production / Coproduction of the video work : Maison de la danse 2011
Duration : 105'