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Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Black and white headshot of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
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.

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 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.

He continues to work with a variety of theatres, opera houses and ballet companies from the world (Dutch National Ballet, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Paris Opera Ballet). Cherkaoui also received much international acclaim for his choreography in Joe Wright’s feature film Anna Karenina (2012).


Filip Van Roe

How did you come across him/her?

I first met Filip at a photo shoot for a Belgian magazine in 2012.

Why did you choose the photographer you worked with?

Looking at Filip’s portfolio it is obvious that he handles emotion and motion with great sensitivity. He can ‘catch the moment in between moments’. His images are powerful and intimate but never invasive. He also had a fantastic sense of place and context. Filip is able to tune in to his subject so that the final image still sees the subject as a person without overriding personality. What was it that you wanted to express about yourself? Why this photograph and composition?

I chose this picture to for this commission because it is close but not intrusive. I wanted to present myself in an ‘honest’ and open way, without escaping from my identity as a person. I feel the image says ‘you can be this close to me’ which is how it is when I am creating work for an audience.

On the day of the shoot my mind was busy working through upcoming decisions. There is an existential struggle in making new work. Each work is harder to produce than the last since with each new work the expectations rise. I wanted his portrait to give some indication of this – making dance work is a thing of beauty but it is also a challenge involving critical decisions about the overall direction and the moves within it. It is important to consider the viewers response to a piece but also not get distracted by fear of critical judgement.

Black and white headshot of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui ©Filip Van Roe