LONDON––Seventeen dancers immersed in abrupt breath work and vocalization heap, coil and squish, in a suggestively ritual manner, their 3.5-ton landscape of wet clay in a unique marriage between renowned British sculptor Antony Gormley scenography and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui‘s choreography.
Placed on Swedish contemporary dance company Göteborg Opera in October 2016, Icon amalgamates art forms, cultures and traditions into a coherent whole, as the audience undertake an hour-long visceral study of creation, destruction and ephemerality of clay, just as iconoclasm.
“When you see dancers interact with the clay, it speaks volumes about who they are as individuals. Shaping something is very interesting in the way you transfer your energy to another material. Clay is a very emotional material. There’s nothing spiritual about clay. Clay is extremely earth-bound. It has weight. It never reacts the way you would think. It’s unpredictable, as if it had a mind of its own. In that sense, Icon is the opposite of Noetic, where I could work with the element of air and shapes such as circles. In Icon, the clay keeps me grounded. Working with this material, gravity constantly drags me down.” ––Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Cherkaoui adds when he began working on this piece, one question came as icons such as religious leaders, politicians and pop stars are both created, reproduced and destroyed by society: “What happens within us when we build them up, and then witness their downfall? “
“There’s something to say about how we need at times in our lives to start a new phase by breaking things. It is fascinating for me to see how we as a society react to certain destructions. Certain demolitions we find very painful to watch, and – strangely enough – at certain losses we feel almost euphoric, although actually they may be just as painful.”
Watch the dancers’ interactions in the video below.
Icon was performed at Sadler’s Wells Theatre earlier this year.
“Sadler’s Wells is where you go to get inspired…being energised by this display of intelligent bodies, extraordinary music, an architecture of sound irradiated by wonderful, surprising movement—it’s the best thing.” ––Antony Gormley
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