Especially for the 70th edition of the Festival d’Avignon, choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet created a new version of their Olivier award winning piece Babel(words), and transposed it to the Cour d’Honneur of the Palais des Papes under the title of Babel 7.16. Ten new performers were added to the show, ten new characters making the story even more rich and complex.
“Babel 7.16: update or recreation? Today, for the choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet the point is no longer for the audience to see the show in the same way they did in 2010, when Babel(words) was created and formed a triptych with Foi and Myth. The extension of the title says it all: 7.16 is as much a reference to software coding, as to the verses of a holy text, a contemporary date or the power of archaic numerology. The piece calls on the clash of languages and bodies from different nationalities, on the diversity and the difficulty to coexist, confronting uniqueness and community. It questions our attitude towards change, when technology is constantly modifying the notions of empathy and human connections. Babel 7.16, like the original show, features dancers who humorously share their legacies, at once immutable and constantly changing. To dance that contradiction is like exploring words with the body, or like dodging the trap of the unspeakable thanks to gestures and actions. In the original myth, God refused to share his territory, while men wanted to get closer to Him. “To share is a decision, an attitude, in particular when faced with traumatic events. In those moments extreme solidarity faces fear of sharing.” By inviting the original cast of dancers that have made Babel(words) a reference in the world of choreography to come onstage, the Flemish Cherkaoui and the Francophone Jalet, from a country at once divided and united, have put the concepts of masses, history and territory in the Cour d'Honneur of the Palais des Papes. In this heart of hearts, where the walls embody the unchanging nature of power and of religion, yet also exalt and welcome life in all its complexities.” - Moïra Dalant for the Festival d’Avignon 2016