For Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui Genesis 生长 “is about growth, whether global, personal or artistic” as well as “a show about the origins of things. We are born and then we die, and in the meantime we undergo constant testing and increasing estrangement from the natural world.” The fruit of collaboration between Cherkaoui and dancer and studio head Yabin Wang, developed mostly in Beijing. The company included dancers from China as well as dancers from Cherkaoui’s company, Eastman (based in Antwerp). It is the last in a long list of international projects Cherkaoui has developed, such as Sutra (monks of the Shaolin Temple), Apocrifu, TeZukA (Manga), m¡longa (tango), Dunas (flamenco), and Babel (words).
The curtains pulled back to reveal the huge stage dominated by a series of clear Perspex boxes. Slowly, each of the performers – dressed in white lab coats and masks – started weaving their way through the boxes, like an oversized shell game. Genesis 生长 is not the type of show with a narrative that starts at point A and ends at point Z. It is rather a series of dances around the theme of life, which according to the explanations on the program is centred around opposition – ying/yang, life/death and rebirth, science/nature, social conditioning/individual freedom; yet it still leaves enough of a leeway to the spectator for his own conclusions and interpretations.
Over the course of the show, various scenes were played out by the dancers: DNA references, a lecture on telomeres, forensic and scientific experiments, a hand dance, an absorbing piece with crystal balls, a sequence with a ‘cadaver’ on a table – a nod to Frankenstein, Wang dancing a solo with her waist-length hair as prop, her encounter with the other female dancer – both in the Perspex boxes, like trapped china dolls. The dancing had throughout in equal measure physicality and spirituality, individuality and commonality, intensity and serenity.
Like the dance the music is also a series of distinct pieces dispersed between countries and instruments, the ordering of the different musicians allowing for contrast and change. Olga Wojciechowska was the main composer, with additional scores from Barbara Drazkowska on the piano, Manjunath Chandramouli – a mridanga player (an Indian drum) – and the Congolese vocalist Kaspy Kusosa Kuyyubuka.
Genesis 生长 is definitely a complex piece of superb dancing that –as a member of the audience characteristically said – gives you a lot to take in, made even more singular by the accompanying soundscape.