Sidi Larbi Workshop Review

May 8, 2013

Sidi Larbi Workshop Review
workshop SidiL Maryam Martin

Photo: Maryam Martin

“He’s a man for all seasons an amazing ambassador for a new school of contemporary arts. His words of wisdom create a painting leaving an image that will stay with the student.” ST – Professional Dancer / Teacher”
This two day workshop led by Eastman company member Elias Lazarid gave insight to the style and creative process of working with SidiLarbi Cherkaoui the Director/choreographer of the company.
What mostly ran throughout this experience was how eclectic the influences are within Cherkaoui’s work. There were references to traditional Chinese dance, martial arts, acrobatics and breakdance, which seemed to be a reoccurring theme in his movement quality. Starting with a gentle warm up that included mobilisation and stretching exercises the focus was on the spine and how a movement starting from the neck can have a rippling effect through the entire spine and how the tailbone responds? Playing with sequential movement is another idea that comes up frequently during the day.
 We worked on the concept of a never ending movement that is circular or spiralling, using the image of a zero and figures of eight, how to transfer the weight to maintain the flow of the movement. This was developed into a phrase that highlighted this element but also found moments to accent and create more dynamic within the fluidity, like punctuation marks in a sentence. 
Although we worked on different tasks the contrast between fractured movement and a languid pliable quality seemed to be something that Cherkaoui likes to draw out of his dancer and resonated with me when watching his latest piecePuzzle at Sadler’s Wells later that evening. A juxtaposing of oppositions within the movement and the general East meets West philosophy behind the work is becoming an identifiable signature. The fact that he blends them so well is a credit to his craftsmanship but also perhaps also due to his Flemish/Moroccan identity.
 Having only been able to attend the first day of the workshop I was left feeling very curious as to how these concepts would be develop further and how far you can take an idea and distort it whilst remaining true to what is at the basis of it. What was so interesting to see in the work but also experience in the workshop is exploring how so much variation can come from one simple idea; that everyone has the same starting point but can individuallychoose the route to explore. As a company that works with a devised processCherkaoui is more the director proposing an element and sculpting the performers material that they generate carving and manipulating as he tries to realise his vision.
-Anthea, DW team