After touching the world of Brel in 1999 with Anonymous Society, it was logical for Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui to take the next step with the words of another legend of the 20th century, Edith Piaf. Non, je ne regrette rien (I have no regrets) is the keystone of Cherkaoui’s first full-fledged show for Les Ballets C. de la B. Teaming up with musical director and renowned cellist Roel Dieltiens, Cherkaoui invents a world that can be considered the basis of his choreographic universe.
The show is set in a hybrid space. It looks like a mosque in which the cellist took the place of the imam; the stage, squared down by tapestry, is as much a place of prayer as of dance. A wall in the back holds everyone hostage, with an inscription in Arabic calligraphy that can be read as 'what is forbidden, is most seductive' or 'what is seductive, attracts the forbidden'... The six performers, three bearded young men and three women (58 year old ballet dancer and teacher Marie-Louise Wilderijkx, 40 year old singer/dancer Angelique Willkie and 14 year old gifted Laura Neyskens) interact in different ways on the contemporary music of Gubaidulina, Kodaly, Ligeti,… performed by Roel Dieltiens on cello. The images are multiple and conflicting, yet merge together in Rien de Rien: Willkie's stories of vegetarian struggles in a far away African village; an Italian popular religious song that's rejected by the church, yet harmonizes within the bodies of two male dancers portraying Shiva in a mosque; a smoking elegant diva dancing a tango without touching her much younger partner... The intimate and introvert piece toured two years all over Europe.
Rien de Rien won the Special Prize at the BITEF Festival in Belgrade and Cherkaoui was awarded the Promising Choreographer Award at the Nijinski Awards in Monte Carlo in 2002.