Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Shantala Shivalingappa
Live Arts Festival
Dance / 75 minutes
Prince Music Theatre
"Dance is always a temporary drawing, it disappears when the movement ends. So the drawing can be written over, or rewritten at any time. Each performance has to be drawn again the next evening."
“Cherkaoui is . . . one of the bright young stars of contemporary European dance. He has . . . consistently blurred the boundaries between dance, theater, and music; juxtaposed movement styles; and tackled political, spiritual, and existential themes.”
Photo: Koen Broos
Play is a vast playground, a place for experiments between two riveting performers with seemingly opposing techniques and styles: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the sinuous western contemporary dancer whose movements ride a wave of chaos, and the Indian dancer Shantala Shivalingappa, whose masterly control of movement comes from her training in the classical Indian form Kuchipudi. Play portrays the teasing, playful games they engage in to form a world of their own. Role-play, seduction, imitation, human-sized puppets, blindfolds, masks, music: all are employed to win the other over, to test boundaries, and finally to express the joy of communicating through dance.
On moveable platforms, a quartet of musicians alternates between intense percussive music and soaring melodies, and they join the dancers in the choreography. Small details—hands gestures, a chess match—are projected on a backdrop of large rotating squares. Play moves from moments of extreme intimacy to a production that envelopes the stage. In a creation that refuses to be categorized, Cherkaoui, of Flemish and Moroccan descent, and Shivalingappa, who was born in India but raised in France, play with their own—and then each other’s—vast array of traditions, techniques, and personal histories.
In short: two great dancers, playing with the rules, reinvention, live music, formality to wildness.
"Playing always has an element of fun, or enjoyment, as well as one of challenge and difficulty. It reveals your strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your opponent."
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is a former member of Les Ballets C. de la B. Focusing on themes of ethnicity, identity, cultural differences, and boundaries, his recent work includes collaborations with Shaolin Temple monks, flamenco dancer Maria Pagés, and the sculptor Antony Gormley. Shantala Shivalingappa is an extremely sought after performer who has worked with Maurice Béjart, Peter Brook, Bartabas, Pina Bausch, and Ushio Amagatsu. Play began as a short piece for Pina Bausch’s 2008 dance festival, Fest with Pina.
Festival Spotlight Series: Shivalingappa also performs her solo work Namasya and is featured in the massive multi-media installation Zon-Mai, which was conceived by Cherkaoui.
Choreography Shantala Shivalingappa and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui Assistant Choreographer Jon Filip Fahlstrom Artistic consultant Arthur Nauzyciel Lighting Adam Carrée Visual and Puppet design Filip Peeters Video Paul Van Caudenberg Costumes Lieve Meeussen Musicians Patrizia Bovi, Gabriele Miracle, Olga Wojciechowska, Tsubasa Hori Produced by Eastman Performers Shantala Shivalingappa and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Appropriate for ages 12 and up.
* Post-show discussion on Sept 15 moderated by Simon Dove, director of the Herberger Institute School of Dance, Arizona State University.
The presentation of Play in the 2011 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through Dance Advance. Funded in part by the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts. NDP is supported by lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust. This