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Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Damien Jalet & Antony Gormley

Tuesday 18 & Wednesday 19 May 2010 | 7.30pm | Sadlers' Wells


Working in and around Gormley’s 5 giant boxes, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui with collaborator Damien Jalet, leads Babel’s 17 dancers and musicians in an investigation into his own Arabic roots. Featuring Sufi trance led by Fahrettin Yarkin, Babel explores how language, both spoken and physical, is the driving force behind all human interaction.

Combining a western vocabulary with those of four ‘zones’ including Beirut, Baghdad, Istanbul and Casablanca, themes of conflict and coexistence emerge that can be traced back to the collapse of civilisations, countries and people.

Co-commissioned by Dash Arts for the Dash Arabic Series, Babel is the third instalment of the Sidi Larbi triptych, beginning with Foi (2003) and Myth (2007), that reflects a profound curiosity in man’s search for the divine.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is an Associate Artist at Sadler's Wells and is of Flemish / Morrocan / Catholic / Muslim descent. Rooted in the basic human aspects of language and communication, this multi-national company’s work is revelatory and challenging.

The production is now on an international tour.

More Information

Babel (words) won two Oliviers at the 2011 Award Ceremony – for Best New Dance Production and Outstanding Achievement in Dance for Antony Gormley’s sculptures. Congratulations to Eastman’s Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Damien Jalet and Antony Gormley.

Babel 1 Babel 2 Babel 3 Babel 4 Babel 5

Latest reviews from Sadler's Wells, 18 May 2010:

"the most fiercely resonant dance theatre of the decade" ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Guardian
"Movements are shared and repeated, delivered like punches and then lured into a seductive and tender communality." ★ ★ ★ ★ The Times
"Diversity and ethnicity are popular themes in the theatre but rarely are they treated with such ingenuity and humour, and such choreographic and philosophical erudition, as they are in Babel." ★ ★ ★ ★ Evening Standard
"the movement throughout is exceptional ... the piece also possesses a keen philosophical edge" Music OMH

Reviews from the premiere in Brussels:

"An avalanche of surprising images, full of humour, imagination and poetry… a remarkable show" Le Soir, Brussels (29 April 2010)
"Babel is not only the most innovative dance piece of the year; its language of movement is as new as Pina Bausch’s was in the seventies. It is also one of the strongest works of the year" (April 2010)
"If there is a God, he’s definitely created Cherkaoui and Jalet to be his messengers. The trilogy Foi – Myth – Babel is of heavenly beauty" CJP (April 2010)


Babel has been co-commissioned
by Dash Arabic series.
Supported by the Garrick Charitable Trust .

Wider Programme

Babel was accompanied by a programme of talks, live music and Arabic food at the Sadler's Wells Lilian Baylis Studio and Garden Café.