When they first met six years ago, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Václav Kuneš recall, the similarities quickly proved to be so much stronger than the differences in their immediate worlds. The shared passion for diversity, not just in dance languages, but in the backgrounds of their dancers and their aspirations; their unflagging desire to provide opportunities for the dancers to enrich and be enriched by the collective experience; and to create an environment that fostered respect and humanity.
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, with the dancers and artistic team of Eastman and 420PEOPLE, pieces together a mosaic drawn from the animate and inanimate elements of the desert to create Nomad. Meanwhile, from the dance floor, we get glimpses of the fluidity and adaptability of creatures that thrive in the harshest of conditions; the beautiful transience of sand dunes and winds that change direction and shape and speed in the twinkling of an eye; the intense physical and emotional thirst, the yearning for water and safety, for consolation that guide both animal actions and the human quest for spirituality. And above all, the spirit of togetherness, of friendship and symbiosis, key to survival and evolution in an arid world that would be insurmountable alone.
The piece is built on some prior artistic collaborations, and is interacting as always with Cherkaoui’s earlier work. After Qutb and Mosaic, Nomad is the third piece with music by Basement Jaxx artist Felix Buxton, based on the Middle-East. Also, it is the third collaboration with fashion designer Jan-Jan Van Essche, after Icon and Satyagraha. His costumes for Nomad are inspired by the richness of fabrics that inhabitants of the desert wear to protect themselves from the heat. And just like in Faun, there’s a giant image filling the back of the stage: Not a forest this time, but a desert. This desolate landscape is a metaphor for ultimate freedom, but also for the impossibility to survive. We even get the feeling that this landscape is not in our own trusted world, especially when Willy Cessa’s video design shows the earth floating above the horizon like a moon. The dancing nomads seem to be isolated in this environment, like the world today sometimes seems like a desert in the eyes of minority groups, a dangerous place to be in.