Invited to dance a solo at the Festival d'Avignon for le Vif du Sujet, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui asked choreographer Wim Vandekeybus to create something with and for him. IT was the result. Based on The Circular Valley, a short novel by Paul Bowles, it became the meeting point of two very particular universes, Vandekeybus' and Cherkaoui's.
The Atlájala is a consciousness or ghost living in the circular valley. It's described in the story to float from one creature to the next, going from animal to animal till it finds and tries the human body, ending up in a woman. There the ghost feels connected to everything and ends up so sensitive, that it's almost too much to handle, like a form of higher awareness that becomes addictive. The female body leaves him as she leaves the valley, and the ghost ends up lost and alone, not sure if it'll ever try to go into another living creature again.
Cherkaoui shared the stage with a donkey, that was 'telling' the tale of the Atlájala through a speaker system. The piece started as an outdoor production of 30 minutes, and grew into a full evening performance with video interactions replacing the donkey.