Posted on February 4, 2015
Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is to be the new artistic director of Royal Ballet Flanders, it was announced on February 4. Cherkaoui will take up his post on September 1, 2015, with Tamas Moricz as his associate artistic director.
Cherakaoui joins the company after a series of upheavals. In 2012, director Kathryn Bennetts left Royal Ballet Flanders after clashing with Flemish culture minister Joke Scahuviliege; her successor, Assis Carreiro, left abruptly in 2014.
As a contemporary choreographer taking over a classical ballet company, Cherkaoui has said that “The course I will be seeking to pursue with the company is one of reconciliation”. Tamas Moricz said: “We want to take Royal Ballet Flanders to a new and inspiring place in the world of dance. We both share the aim of allowing dancers to maintain their firm classical background by continuing classical training and repertoire, while also bringing the company into a contemporary space. Classical ballet and contemporary dance can exist alongside each other, and that is the situation at present. Our aim is to draw both these worlds into a creative hub within this company.”
Cherkaoui praised the company’s achievements: “As a contemporary choreographer who was born in Antwerp, I have been following the development of Royal Ballet Flanders for 20 years now. The talent, technical virtuosity, sensitivity and musicality of its dancers have always inspired me, so it was an honour for me to share a piece from my own repertoire with the company last season. Faun [as part of Diaghilev Unbound, 2013–2014 season] was a first step towards an exchange of repertoire with the ballet company.
“For the past ten years, as well as developing my contemporary choreography work I have also worked with foreign ballet companies every year… Through all these experiences I have gained the confidence and energy that I will need in the role of artistic director at Royal Ballet Flanders…
“For a number of years there has been a constantly growing exchange between the different dance disciplines, as classical ballet and contemporary dance increasingly complement each other. Although there is always a key idea running through the content of my work, what I am able to achieve with ballet dancers in terms of form and technique is very different from my work with contemporary dancers. I am therefore looking forward to seeing these differences evolve further in future.
“At Eastman I open up specific themes that allow contemporary dancers to translate them into earthbound gestures with strong contrasts and an animalistic flexibility, but in ballet I can develop feather-light pointe movements to draw outlines in space in a more calligraphic way. In time, I also want to be able to reverse those ‘differences’; I find it exciting to let the two worlds flow into one another without losing any of their fascinating differences or nuances.
“I am not making this move to Royal Ballet Flanders alone. I am bringing with me Tamas Moricz as my right hand man: a highly talented dancer and dance teacher who has himself danced for many years in performances created by William Forsythe. Together with him I will be working out the future direction for the ballet. That direction will respect its history while also cherishing the ambition to open up new paths. Eastman will still be my contemporary company. Organic exchanges with Royal Ballet Flanders will of course develop, but I am definitely not going to force that.”
Picture: Sidi Larbi Cherkaou. Photograph: Koen Broos