Toneelhuis & Muziekcentrum De Bijloke, Antwerp, Ghent, Belgium, 2009
Author: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Directed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

about the production

Whether the fear from different and strange is congenital to men or belongs to the basic archetypes of our civilization, it is not fully clear. Every day we meet extreme manifestation of this fear in the form of hatred or xenophobia. Whether the desire to get familiar with different (cultures, languages, countries, people, ways of thinking) is only a mere curiosity or a compensating mechanism of the fear from different, is equally unclear. What is clear, though, is that the curiosity and the fear are our constant companions on the Earth. Today, when borders have been lifted and the mutual communication between different cultures has become open, almost frenetic, we welcome every attempt which shows us new qualities in meeting of cultures, every work which would not be born without an open dialogue between different cultures. It is so because it opens new horizons for us, makes us to revalue conventional attitudes and uncovers new spheres for our creativity.

Despite his young age, dancer and choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is considered one of the biggest talents in Europe. Thank to eclecticism in the means he uses, his choreographic works are compared to books in motion which tell the audience something about close and distant worlds.

Cherkaoui is eclectic also in his use of dance styles and therefore he can formally express his core theme: the equality between individuals, cultures, languages and expressive means. He finds in the different parts new qualities and connections and thanks to the eclecticism he builds stories which are easier to grasp, which are universal and complex.

The production of Origine is a work of various renowned creators who, in their examination of today’s world and the way by which cultures unite or differ, turn to the past, search for the roots and explore the origin of our (inter)human situation. Thanks to this thorough examination and deep plunge into the problems and original attitude, in which one may see personal experience with mixing of different cultures, the connection of scenes from today’s life of world’s big cities, together with abstract choreographs of old archetypal stories and spiritual songs by religion female mystics (Christian and Islamic), are not perceived as strange or as a collage of contrasts. The production is a synthetic work at all its levels. It connects the past with the present, South with North, East with West, banal with scarce, every-day life with spiritual experience, original with common, movement with singing in such a way the audience is able find connections and deep relations between them.  In the first moment, Origine drags you by its plain beauty and language by which it speaks to you, but immediately after this it takes you to the understanding that in the effort not to get lost in all those influences, cultures, information and things we have to search for sea in a drop of water, that in all our acts there is always our past reflected, that by every question about our future we ask about our origin.
Ján Šimko


directed by and choreography: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
assistants to choreographer: Nienke Reehorst, Satoshi Kudo, Claire Cunningham
dance, choreography: Kazutomi Kozuki, Daisy Phillips, Valgerdur Rúnarsdóttir, Shawn Mothupi
music: songs of the oriental Christian tradition (4th – 12th cent.), chants and early polyphony from the medieval Spanish nuns monastery Las Huelgas (13th cent.), female sacred songs from rural Sweden
live music by Ensemble Sarband: Fad a Tomb El-Hage (voice), Amy Green (voice and gothic harp), Vladimir Ivanoff (hmusic director, musical arrangements, percussion and luth)
costume design: Isabelle Lhoas, Frederick Denis
costumes Stéphanie Croibien
light design: Enrico Bagnoli
puppets made by : Filip Peeters
images: Gilles Delmas, Paul Van Caudenberg
project management Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui: Karthika Nair
PR: Frans Brood Productions
co-production Théâtre de la Ville Paris (FR), Torinodanza (IT), tanzhaus nrw Düsseldorf (DE)


Dancer and choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (1976) belongs to the rising generation of contemporary Flemish choreographers and at present he works in Ghent, Belgium. Cherkaoui uses dance as a temporary sketch of reality which disappears when the movement ends. Consequently, Cherkaoui’s productions are some storybooks in motion, which tell the audience about the nearby and the distant world – and preferably both at once. Each work builds a bridge between different worlds and cultures: In Origine, four dancers present the four cardinal points which determine important cultural relationships – the North vs. the South, the East vs. the West. Icelandic fairytales, Japan robotics, American consumption, African soil. Cherkaoui uses in Origine universal, politically and at the same time religiously important spiritual texts and music by female Muslim mystic Rabiá al Andawiya from the 18th century as well as rural Swedish songs. The music is presented by international world music stars, the members of the Ensemble Sarband. Cherkaoui is deliberately eclectic also in his use of dance styles by which he formally deals with his central theme – the equality of individuals, cultures, languages and means of expression. The stories that are shaped in this way on the stage are accessible, universal and complex.