In the cross-cultural dance event of the season, renowned Flemish-Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui joins forces with a performer known across China, House of Flying Daggers dancer Yabin Wang. Genesis 生长 has toured across China and in Europe, and Yabin Wang shared with Culture Whisper what to expect.
Yabin Wang and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui: Sadler’s Wells
Regulars at Sadler’s Wells dance theatre will be familiar with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, choreographer of celebrated works like m¡longa and Babel and a compulsive collaborator. Remarkably absorbent to other traditions, his movement is marked by sensitivity to new ideas rather than any typical steps.
But another draw for Genesis will be the first London appearance of Yabin Wang. Many UK ticket buyers will know her for one spectacular dance in Zhang Yimou’s hit film, House of Flying Daggers, but she is a dancer and choreographer in addition to her film and TV credits, working to expand contemporary dance in China via her annual show: Yabin and her Friends.
Wang’s passion for international collaboration lead her to invite Cherkaoui to create a work for her. She muses, “his is very inclusive choreography, culturally it is very adventurous.” The resulting Genesis 生长 is a mixture of both their ideas, the title referring both to the biblical and literal origins of things, and the two Chinese characters signifying birth and growth. Wang explains, “Birth answers the question of where we come from, and growth that of where we are going.”
Perhaps inspired by Cherkaoui’s time in hospital as a child, this vision of birth has a chill, institutional air. Dancers struggle to express their individuality against the sterility of Liu Kedong’s striking set, a design of cubic frames and mirrored squares. Li Quing’s costumes are at once the papery white of institution, and poetically translucent.
The choreography blends the three dancers from Wang’s own Yabin Studio company with three from Cherkaoui’s Eastman Dance Company, leading up to Yabin Wang’s supremely balanced solo, using her waist-length black hair as a prop to wind and entwine. All is set against an electronic score from violinist and regular Cherkaoui collaborator, Olga Wojciechowska.
For Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Genesis is another adventure into new movement. Wang says, “Larbi’s strength is that he has not been caught up in any classical techniques he has grown up with or been trained in, he is completely open to new vocabulary.” Having already made forays into Argentine tango and the practice of Shaolin monks, he is no stranger to new challenges.
And he’ll draw on Yabin’s own talents: “I use what I learned in Chinese classical training, but twist it into a very contemporary context. You’ll see the influence of Tai Chi, the control of breath and movement, the space in between movements - it’s like Chinese calligraphy.”
The combination of fearless choreographer and subtle performer, figureheads from opposite ends of the world, will be some of the most exciting contemporary dance London will see this season.
|What||Genesis 生长: Eastman / Yabin Studio, Sadler’s Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
28 Sep 15 – 29 Sep 15, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Sadler's Wells website|