"This work is about daring to see we are full of paradoxes," says Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Photo by Koen Broos, Courtesy Cherkaoui

What "You Oughta Know" About the Alanis Morissette Musical, According to the Choreographer

In 1995, when Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill album stormed the airwaves, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui was a young dancer in Antwerp, Belgium, taking his first steps toward a genre-mixing, category-defying career. In 2018, with more than 50 choreographic works and two Olivier Awards, he takes on the choreography of Jagged Little Pill, the musical, premiering May 5 at American Repertory Theater.


How did you come to be involved in Jagged Little Pill?

Diane Paulus, the director, was interested in working with me on this project. The opportunity to work with Alanis really excited me because there are a few female artists who have shaped my way of listening to music, my way of thinking about storyline and lyrics. Alanis Morissette is one of them.

Can we expect a narrative?

Yes, this is definitely a story. We follow a family through family dynamics that are quite peculiar—very interesting and touching. It's uncanny how the songs interject and lock into the group dynamics of the characters.

How have you found working with such iconic songs?

I come from the European school where sometimes we make choreography without music. However, this project is exciting because I know the songs inside out. They are part of my DNA. I also noticed that by working with the lyrics rather than counts, the performers picked up the choreography more quickly. The music isn't new to them. It is under their skin.

Working with iconic songs meant that "the performers picked up the choreography more quickly," Cherkaoui says. Photo by Jimmy Ryan, Courtesy A.R.T.

Your choreographic style is eclectic. What style will you be bringing to this production?

I always think of funky things. Here, it's exciting for me to have a context in which that fits and makes sense. There are definitely specific themes here that will have movement material a little bit out of the box. I try to be very intuitive and stay open to what I feel is necessary for each scene.

Do you think this work will challenge audiences?

Some of the topics are really sensitive and will, I hope, lead people to discover something about other people or about themselves. I experienced that working on it. There is so much we don't know about one another, or we ignore. This work is about daring to look at the complexity of life and see we are full of paradoxes. There is no easy answer, and it can be exciting to have a whole life to find those answers. I have been noticing that the people who come to watch art understand more and more how essential art is for peace of mind and for finding creative solutions to the messed up situations we end up in due to uncreative politics and greed.

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Courtesy Ava Noble

Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival

Now more than ever, the students of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are embodying their program's vision: "The New Movement."

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts.

November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. And they haven't solely been dancing. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival.

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