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.