Dance Review










Photo by koenbroos

by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui


Sadler’s Wells


16 - 17 May, 2008





1ary Couzen

A review by Allan Taylor for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Eight dancers, five actors and five musicians intertwined in unusual and freefalling dialogue and movement is where Myth lies. Cherokaoui describes it as a series of ‘moments where people lose their innocence’, and therein, in a library outside time, space or sense, the theme is explored and worked out to its conclusion.

The best and worst feature of tanztheater is that essentially there is no narrative, and it’s about making sense of that Freudian free association via the method of dance that makes Myth such an intriguing piece. The actors try and make sense of their surroundings and the weird happenings whilst the dancers freely move through complicated, body-defying twists and turns that leave you wondering if it was contact improvisation, or just an extremely high level of perfect choreography.

Taking place in a huge library (lavishly designed by Wim Van de Cappelle and the choreographer Cherokaoui), the actors all reveal their very real desires, thoughts and passions, such as the stocky French maternal figure (Christine Leboutte), or the bookish, spindly redhead whose awkward and jittering movements have been chosen very purposely to contrast the wavy rhythm of the other dancers (Ulrika Kin Svensson). Taking the dialogue here, there and everywhere in a variety of different languages (I counted 5; I may be mistaken), there is nothing that is not up for discussion, from ‘your momma’s so fat’ jokes, to the psychological origins of Christ. And within that, there are lots of subtle self referential parts, like the coming of Christ to save them from the library, a woman who gives birth onstage only to ask for her own mother for help and the cross dresser giving Miss America a run for her money, eventually appearing in a tiara.

Ensemble Micrologus provide the music rooted somewhere between medieval English and traditional Eastern, the crossover provides a dramatic and natural feel to the surreality and exact movement. Utilising faithful copies of ancient instruments, they seem to exact and reflect the tone and style of Cherokaoui’s vision.

Possibly outstaying his welcome a tad too long Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui seems to stagger into the territory of dance for dance’s sake about half an hour towards the end where a lot of the audience were getting itchy feet (2 hours with no interval is bound to make some restless). There was a serious of very powerful images and scenes where it could have ended, but instead ran on for another 10 minutes, and another, and another. Still, this does not detract from its representation of an extremely high standard of choreography and very well thought through process, resulting in a very holistic and complete piece.

Myth is just the first of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s pieces at Sadler’s Wells and it certainly has set the standard. Anyone interested in the potential and limits of dance, as well as how dance is moving forward in the 21st century should be booking their seats for the next performance. Innovative, with a mix of contemporary dance flavoured by an Eastern aroma, Myth is a show that is sometimes bewildering, sometimes bewitching, but most importantly reflects a true clarity of vision.


Myth is showing till the 17h of May

Performance at 7.30pm

Tickets £10-£35

For more information, please contact 0844 412 4300 or go to









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