Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui: Mermaid

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui im Interview mit Lucy White über sein neues Stück "Mermaid", das er für Acosta Danza entwickelte.

©Joris Casaer

You have created a new work for the premiere of Acosta Danza, entitled 'Mermaid'. Can you tell me about the piece and the ideas behind it?

The inspiration really came from the dancers. The company had already taken one of my earlier works, Faun, into their rep so I wanted to create something that featured a mythological creature in a similar way to Faun but with a deeper meaning. I wanted to explore where these mythological creatures come from and what inspires our imagination to create them.
Instead of creating the image of the mermaid literally, I’ve placed Marta, a contemporary dancer, in pointe shoes. Like a fish out of water trying to walk on dry land, or a stranger in unknown territory, the mermaid looks for help and guidance – which comes to her in the guise of Carlos Acosta.
The elements of the piece came together slowly including the evolution of the music. For this piece, I’ve worked with Woojae Park, a Korean composer I have collaborated with before, to create something ethereal and moving. In Korea, they have many traditional songs about the sea so I wanted to create an environment that would fit the choreography and become a voice for what was happening in the movement. I really enjoyed the disconnect between the Cuban dancers and the Korean composer and how they have come together to create something beautiful.

For this duet you've been working with Carlos Acosta - one of the most well-known names in recent classical dance - and ballet/contemporary dancer, Marta Ortega. Will we see a strong classical influence or have you focused upon a more contemporary style?

To me, there isn’t really a classical or contemporary style. All contemporary styles eventually become classical so I prefer to focus on drawing on the dancers’ energy and what they can bring to the choreography. Marta, although she trained in the classics, quickly veered towards contemporary dance so putting her back in pointe shoes was a real challenge for her which she really embraced.

How collaborative was this creative process?

This was a very collaborative process. I started the preparation work with my associate Jason Kittelberger but when we started working with the dancers, they came up with new things as they integrated the style of movement that I imposed on them. I love when dancers transform what I have proposed into their own familiar style. Marta and Carlos were very respectful of my proposals and had incredible attention to detail when it came to creating and developing the work.

Tell us how you came to work with Carlos Acosta and his new company?

I have known Carlos for many years. We have known for a long time that we wanted to work together and explore lots of possibilities. We look at the world through the same eyes.

You've worked around the world, as a performer and choreographer. How did you find the experience of working in Cuba?

I was very impressed by the company in Cuba. The dancers are incredibly smart. Havana has a lot of talented dancers. Living in a place where the comfort levels are very different compared to somewhere like London or Antwerp makes it even more impressive to see such excellence. Recently the streets of Havana were submerged in water because of hurricane Irma. It’s ironic to me that something like this should happen when I’m making a work about a Mermaid. It’s symbolic to see the struggle with water, just like the Mermaid.

What has inspired you during this creative process and is there anything from this you might draw on for the future?

I was incredibly inspired by the two dancers and how they, as individuals, interacted with each other. I was happy to let the energy between them tell a story – he wants to help to make sure she doesn’t get hurt by anyone else. He feels a sense of duty towards her. It inspires me to think more about when we should step in to help someone who is in trouble – and making a physical choreography out of that feeling was an inspiring challenge.

Interview geführt von Lucy White

Das Stück "Mermaid" ist Teil der Vorstellung
Acosta Danza: Debut

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