Faun Noetic


Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

To find a space of contemplation and serenity

Sidi Larbi Cherckaoui about FAUN and NOETIC




As we welcome Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, La Bâtie-Festival de Genève invites the Geneva Ballet to the Château Rouge main stage with the revival of two original works by the Belgian choreographer. A premiere for the Ballet and the first stop of a new tour, as we turn a new page for the company and the transnational community of Greater Geneva.

31 August 2022 – 8:30pm
Château Rouge

Duration: approx. 2h with one intermission

Choreography Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Scenography and lighting design Adam Carrée
Costumes Hussein Chalayan
Music Claude Debussy and Nitin Sawhney
First performed in 2009 at the Sadler’s Wells

Choreography Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Scenography Antony Gormley
Lighting Designer David Stokholm
Costumes Les Hommes
Dramaturgy Adolphe Binder
Music Szymon Brzóska
First performed in 2014 pour la GöteborgsOperans Danskompani

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève

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Faun, in the collective memory or better still in the Ballets Russes section of our cultural consciousness, refers to the original creation of Vaslav Nijinsky’s mythical choreography based on the music of Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. This performance was based on the famous poem by Stéphane Mallarmé on the awakening of the Faun in the forest, which caused something of a stir in 1912. One century later, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui made his Faun at the request of Sadler’s Wells in London. While Nijinsky’s dancers are still very two-dimensional, like figures on a Grecian urn, in Cherkaoui’s version the mythological and animal aspects are presented much more strongly, in a language of motion that becomes truly three-dimensional. The main source of inspiration for the choreographer in the creation in 2009 was the strength of dancer James O’Hara, who created the male role. A greater focus was placed on the fact that the faun is half human and half animal: his movements are wilder and more carefree. Daisy Phillips, as the nymph in the original version, is deeply rooted in the forest. The interaction between the two is innocent but still laden with sexual tension, just as in the Nijinsky choreography. They have the playfulness of children but at the same time they are presented, in a way, as archaic old souls.
Cherkaoui asked composer Nitin Sawhney to intersperse Debussy’s music with his own musical language: the music slides almost unnoticed from one style and culture to another and from one century to another. The costumes by Hussein Chalayan are both natural and organic, but they are also synthetic: the characters are therefore eternal archetypes but also creatures of today.

The word noetic comes from the Greek and refers to a relationship with thinking. In philosophy, it is defined as the intuitive search for knowledge, the knowledge that is already present in ourselves and in the universe and that manifests itself again and again.
Noetic explores the idea that a straight line is actually a curve and that everything can be connected through the shape of the circle. During the rehearsals for Noetic, dancers were encouraged to work collectively rather than individually in order to bring out a shared, collective subconscious. The result is a chain reaction of movements, a flow – like a flock of birds or a school of fish in the water. The dancers flow through and past each other in a way that is elegant and unforced, but also has passion and conviction. At other times, the dancers seem to be part of a complicated clockwork, the building blocks of the inner workings of a society. The dance material oscillates from ethereal to liquid to solid.
In his fourth collaboration with visual artist Antony Gormley since their first artistic encounter in 2005, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui works on a scenography consisting of long slats that can be linked together to create one uninterrupted path. These slats are made of carbon fibre and curve naturally because of gravity. At the same time, by connecting to each other, they curve into perfect circles. By understanding the beginning and the end, by connecting them, a line suddenly finds its completion as a circle and fulfils a new purpose, has a new life, a new form.
Sacred geometry, city life portrayed as mechanical functions, the microcosm reflected in the macrocosm, all these structures leading to interconnectedness: Noetic tries to touch on all these themes in a poetic way. Deep inside, the knowledge, actions and consciousness are already there.

Along with its sister-piece Faun, Noetic integrates the repertoire of the Geneva Ballet with a local premiere in September 2022 at La Bâtie-Festival de Genève. These two seminal pieces by Cherkaoui will then embark on an international tour, as the auteur-choreographer from Antwerp takes his first steps in a new adventure as dance director of the Grand Théâtre de Genève ballet company.




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FAUN © Nicha Rodboon