Is Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui Redefining Virtuosity?

June 18, 2009

At a dress rehearsal at Cedar Lake last night, I was wowed by the extremes that Cherkaoui took the dancers to. I am not going to comment on the choreography per se, because the premiere at Jacob’s Pillow isn’t until next month (see “Dance Matters” when you get your July issue of Dance Magazine). But I gotta talk about how the dancers are dancing in Orbo Novo.

    Ebony Williams slithered with every body part in an amazing boneless solo. She’s a strong dancer in any case (all the Cedar Lake dancers are strong) but in this solo she seemed to turn herself inside out. Like seaweed close to the ocean floor, she twisted, twined, and rolled with an outrageously organic energy.

    Jason Kettelberger had a solo where his pelvis billowed in a way that you couldn’t quite tell when he was floating and when he was falling.

    Jon Bond’s spurts of energy propelled his solo with impulses that followed through in unexpected ways. He seemed to hurl one part of his body across the floor while pinning another part down.

    These three solos were fascinating and exhilarating to watch.

    And a duet between Golan Yosef and Marina Mascarell was emotionally potent. They each shivered and shook violently until they touched each other, calming themselves down. Again and again, they almost convulsed with fever and then arrived at serenity through touch. Just when you expected them to walk off into the sunset, the cause-and-effect reversed, so that they now shook volcanically together and found peace only alone.

    All these sequences were pushed to the nth degree physically rather than theatrically. I think the dancers must be exhausted; they gave everything they have.

Jon Bond in
Orbo Novo, photo: Julieta Cervantes, Courtesy, Cedar Lake