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Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui made his professional debut as choreographer with Andrew Wale’s 1999 contemporary musical saluting Jacques Brel, Anonymous Society, winning the Fringe First award in Edinburgh.

Among his many honors since have been the Special Prize at the BITEF Festival in Belgrade; the Promising Choreographer prize at the Nijinsky Awards in Monte Carlo; the Movimentos Award in Germany; and the Helpmann Award in Australia. In 2008, London’s Sadler’s Wells named Mr. Cherkaoui an Associate Artist. In 2009, Alfred Toëpfer Stiftung endowed him its Kairos European Cultural Prize in recognition of his artistic philosophy and his quest for cultural dialogue. In 2008 and 2011, he was named Choreographer of the Year by the dance magazine Tanz.

He has worked with numerous theatres, opera houses and ballet companies. While his initial pieces – Rien de Rien (2000), Foi (2003), and Tempus Fugit (2004) – were made as a core member of the Belgian collective Les Ballets C. de la B., he also undertook projects that both expanded and consolidated his artistic vision. Ook (2000) was born from a workshop for mentally disabled actors held by Theater Stap, in Turnhout, with choreographer Nienke Reehorst; D’avant (2002) originated from an encounter with longstanding artistic partner Damien Jalet as well as Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola and Luc Dunberry of the Sasha Waltz company; and zero degrees (2005) was conceived with friend and fellow choreographer Akram Khan. From 2004 to 2009, Mr. Cherkaoui was based in Antwerp, where as an Artist in Residence at the theatre Het Toneelhuis.

In 2008, he premiered Sutra at Sadler’s Wells. The award-winning collaboration with Antony Gormley and Shaolin monks continues to tour the world to acclaim. Subsequently, after his first commissioned piece in North America, Orbo Novo (for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet), and a series of duets such as Faun (which premiered at Sadler’s Wells as part of In the Spirit of Diaghilev) and Dunas (with flamenco danseuse María Pagés), he launched his new company Eastman, in residence at deSingel International Arts Campus and Het Toneelhuis.

The spring of 2010 saw Mr. Cherkaoui reunite with Damien Jalet and Antony Gormley to make Babel(words), the third part of a triptych that began with Foi and Myth (2007). That same year, he created Rein, a duet featuring Guro Nagelhus Schia and Vebjørn Sundby; Play, a duet with kuchipudi danseuse Shantala Shivalingappa; and Bound, a duet for Shanell Winlock and Gregory Maqoma (as part of Southern Bound Comfort). At the 2011 Olivier Awards, Babel(words) won Best New Dance Production and Outstanding Achievement in Dance (for Mr. Gormley).

2011 saw the creation of TeZukA, a piece for 15 performers about the works of Japanese manga master Osamu Tezuka, as well as Labyrinth,for the Dutch National Ballet. In 2012, he is creating Puz/zle, with 10 dancers, the Corsican men’s choir A Filetta, Lebanese singer Fadia Tomb El-Hage, and Japanese musician Kazunari Abe.

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