Mea Culpa

By In Dance 1 hour 11 min

“Mea Culpa” is a performance originally created by Cherkaoui for the Ballets de Monte-Carlo in 2006.

“Mea Culpa explores the world that our ancestors and roots have bequeathed to us. What are the foundations of our current civilization? At what price comes this comfort that we enjoy today, handed down to us by our parents and grandparents? This thought led me to the concepts of division, of hierarchy, conquest, colonization, thralldom of man by man, slavery, and pollution. To what degree are we responsible in regards to the deeds of those from whom we descend? Are we unfettered of their choices? Even the most sophisticated of our conceptions and life styles, ensue from this ancient, perhaps primal violence as well…

I am inspired among other things, by the work of the American artist Fred Wilson, who puts Colonial art and Renaissance sculptures in relation with each other.

The notion of thralldom has always seemed almost indefinable to me; in certain cases, the master serves the slave as much as the slave serves the master. This ambiguity strikes me all the more so as the roles inverse themselves infinitely. Like a game of chess, the history of the hierarchy is overturned in revolutions, in a game of power, between black and white, king and queen, past and present, parent and child, the served and the servant…
In which instant is this sentiment of wanting to be useful to others perverted to the point of feeling used by them? And when exactly does a sense of justice transform itself into guilt-feelings? Are we slaves to our desires or masters of our bodies?

The music of Heinrich Schütz, played by the Ensemble Akadêmia and conducted by Françoise Lasserre, falls between the Renaissance and the Baroque, and offers a dramaturgical canvas very similar to that of my precedent work: the history of Christianity, the collective unconscious of Europe. The scenographer Gilles Delmas and the lighting designer Dominique Drillot designed scenery made up of brilliant chandeliers which light a filthy Earth. Delmas saves the images from being trapped in cages, within frames and limits. Class, aristocracy, refinement and hand sewn quality characterize the costumes imagined by Karl Lagerfeld; black and white dominate, the epochs come together and unify in timeless dress which goes beyond fashion.” –


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