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Review: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the Ballets C. DE LA B.
"Tempus Fugit"


By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 10 January 2005—Sidi's company is a happy-go-lucky band of individuals of all sizes, shapes and horizons, who dance without grace and sing off-key, but who all possess an abundance of energy and joie de vivre. The audience at the Théatre de la Ville fell under their charm from the moment they marched on stage, one by one, threading their way between the dozen or so high poles at the back of the stage. As more and more of them came on, nonchalantly swinging their bodies around the rigid posts, the music, by the group Weshm, sitting cross-legged around the floor, intensified. They passed from sacred Corsican songs, to traditional melodies from Sicily and Africa at will. The staging was visually most attractive, with the poles, which they climbed up and slithered or shot down throughout the work, branching out into silver boughed trees at the top.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui Tempus Fugit
Photo: © Jean-Pierre Maurin

"For the first twenty minutes or so, we could have thought that this would be a most spectacular piece, but as time went on, nothing much was, choreographically speaking, happening. It was as if Cherkaoui simply had too many ideas, which he threw at his audience while developing none of them.

Full of personality, Christine Leboutte is an extraordinary interpreter, but where is she going with her little suitcase on wheels on a stage littered with petals? What's this Irish step-dance? Nam Jin Kim jumps onto a box with an imaginary microphone in his hands. He starts to sing as the passers-by throw coins into his hat, but stops abruptly, waiting for more money to be fed into the "juke-box" . It could almost have been a moment of great poetry, but somehow or other, it was over before it began. Probably that was the point that the Flemish-Moroccan choreographer and dancer was making, and I was too slow to catch it.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui: Tempus Fugit
Photo:© Jean-Pierre Maurin

After all, Tempus Fugit is perhaps just that; the personal relationship that each one of us has with the time that is passing ........ and time is passing more quickly than you think. What are we doing in the theatre then, watching all this sexy hip-swinging, bottom-wiggling and shoulder-shrugging which was over before we even realised it had begun, and which we will surely have forgotten about within the week? We were sitting back in our seats, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Is there anything wrong with that?

Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in Europe. She contributes to The Observer and Dancing Times and was dance consultant to the BBC Omnibus documentary on Rudolf Nureyev. Ms. Boccadoro is the dance editor for

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