News: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui to be new Artistic Director Royal Ballet Flanders

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Photo: Koen Broos

Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is to be the new Artistic Director of Royal Ballet Flanders, with dance teacher Tamas Moricz as Associate Artistic Director. Together they will be outlining the future course for Belgium’s biggest dance company.

Announcing the new appointment, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kunsthuis Opera Vlaanderen Royal Ballet Flanders Pol Bamelis said “There has been a great deal of interest in this post both from Belgium and other countries, which is a mark of the quality of the company. We were fully convinced, however, as soon as we saw Larbi’s ambitious project. This is a person with a broad base of support in the world of dance and beyond. He can and will build bridges between tradition, the contemporary world and the future. With his arrival at Royal Ballet Flanders we can look to a new future with absolute confidence.”

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui:

“As a contemporary choreographer who was born in Antwerp, I have been following the development of Royal Ballet Flanders for twenty 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 was a first step towards an exchange of repertoire with the ballet company.”

“For the past 10 years, as well as developing my contemporary choreography work I have also worked with foreign ballet companies every year. ‘Since 2004 I have created performances for the Monte Carlo Ballet, Le Grand Ballet de l’Opéra de Genève, The Royal Danish Ballet, Het Nationaal Ballet in the Netherlands and the dancers at the Paris Opera. 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. The course I will be seeking to pursue with the company is one of reconciliation. 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, will remain artistic partner of *deSingel and will keep its commitments towards the Flemish Government. Repertoire pieces like Babel, TeZukA, Puz/zle, Genesis, 4D and the performances in which I continue to dance myself, such as Play or the upcoming Fractus in deSingel in 2015 will still be in the repertoire. Organic exchanges with Royal Ballet Flanders will of course develop, but I am definitely not going to force that. Looking at the exciting decisions that are being made by Aviel Cahn as Intendant of the opera, I am also looking forward to be collaborating with him within the Kunsthuis.

Larbi is currently Guest Artistic Director of NYDC – the National Youth Dance Company, based at Sadler’s Wells. His new work for the company premieres at the theatre in April. He is also an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells. His last co-production with the theatre, Puz/zle received an Olivier Award for the Best New Dance Production of 2013.

Larbi succeeds Assis Carreiro (previously Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Dance East), who left Royal Ballet Flanders last September and Kathryn Bennetts who resigned after significant government budget cuts to the Antwerp-based company’s funds in 2012. He takes up his post on 1st September 2015.

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