The flamenco dancer María Pagés and he Belgian dancer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui are at Sadler’s Wells from 5–7 May 2011 for a very short run of their incredible show called Dunas.


Photograph by David Ruano

I cannot remember ever being so absorbed in watching a performance! What was continuously remarkble was the interaction between the two dancers: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s dance responses to what María Pagés was doing, his ability to reflect and comment on this through dance, his reinterpretation of María Pagés’s flamenco gave a new perspective to her movements, the ever-chaning shapes and lines of the dancers with a back-drop of the curves of sand dunes created by huge sheets and lighting effects which the dancers also interested with – pulled taut behind the translucent sheets they danced like sandstone figures who had been brought to life, all in a warm and sensual golden light, the playing with shadows, where the dancers are projected as shadows in a sequence of sizes from genie-size to human and the interaction of these shadows with each other, the level of improvisation and continuous creativity was exhilarating, always changing and developing one idea and then moving almost seamlessly into something else and then something else again.

This short excerpt gives some idea of the visual beauty of the performance. It has interviews of the artists, María Pagés speaking in Spanish and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. They speak of the commonality of their roots, of the María Pagés’ Andalucian and resonating with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, who was born in Belgium of a Moroccan father. It came as no surprise to hear that they had travelled together to the desert in Morocco; there is a strong sense of that experience expressed in Dunas.

They presented Dunas at the 16th BIenal de Flamenco in Seville in October 2010, where they were awarded a Giraldillo for the ‘mejor espectáculo’. Here María Pagés speaks about the two musicial directors of Dunas. There are two music ensembles performing with the dancers: one flamenco led by Rubén Lebaniegos and a contemporary music group led by Szymon Brzoska, including the Arabic singer Mohammed El Arabi-Serghini. The music underpins the dance so well.

Entrevista con María Pagés from BienaldeFlamenco on Vimeo.

It is also interesting to hear her speak of the importance of having a good team to work with, which she has.

Needless to say, I highly recommend Dunas and hope you all have the opportunity to see it!

© 2011 Thérèse Wassily Saba