Choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
“Now the spirit of man loves Purity, but his mind disturbs it. The mind of man loves stillness, but his desires draw it away. If he could always send his desires away, his mind would of itself become still. Let his mind be made clean, and his spirit will of itself become pure.” (Excerpt from a Taoist text)
With Pure Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui explores the implications of purity, and the overwhelming preoccupation with the concept. He questions whether purifying a body could make that body disappear and if absolute purity does not actually mean that nothing will be left. Together with the Norwegian dancers Guro Nagelhus Schia and Vebjørn Sundby, he seeks a movement language that can portray this disappearance.
Pure moves between creation and destruction. The female dancer paints her body black and creates something new, while on the other hand she destroys purity. Her partner approaches her and gently brushes her body with a soft cloth. In this way he makes her pure again, while he simultaneously sweeps away what she created with paint. With every touch, no matter how gentle, he impacts her entire body.
Pure is one of the four duets that constitute Cherkaoui’s 4D, that premiered in March 2013 at Toneelhuis in Antwerp. The duet is inextricably linked to dancers Guro Nagelhus Schia and Vebjørn Sundby, and their trajectory inside the work of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The first version of their duet premiered in 2010 and was part of Dansand, a site-specific festival on the beaches of Oostende in Belgium, and was named Rein. This short piece was musically accompanied by Tsubasa Hori, and incorporated parts of Guro’s solo from the opera Das Rheingold, created in the same year. This lyrical, virtuosic duet later evolved into one of the scenes of TeZukA, Cherkaoui's 2011 homage to Osamu Tezuka, founding father of modern manga.