Sacred Monsters. Monstres Sacres. The term was used for the first time in France in the 19th century as a nickname for the big stars of the theatre, such as Sarah Bernhardt. It marks the birth of contemporary stardom in which the icons of the arts and sports world are given divine status by their audience and the media.
Sacred Monsters is first and foremost the meeting and exchange of two such ‘stars’ of the present day dance world: Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan.
But there is also a flip side to stardom. Having to live up to the expectations of your audience to be perfect, positive, good (at), … There is no more room for failure, imperfection, to express one’s real feelings and emotions. The divine status becomes inhuman, monstrous.
The latter being an experience we all share when as children we had to live up to the expectancies of the adults around us: our parents, our teachers, … To some extent all children are ‘sacred monsters’.
“I am a classical dancer. I have been trained as a classical dancer, but I cannot say that my ‘religion’ is a style, a technique, or a tradition. What I can say is, that the ‘place’ where I perform, whatever style I perform, feels strongly a ‘sacred place’. The stage … a monster … my sacred monster.”
Sylvie Guillem, August 2006
Artistic Direction / Choreography Akram Khan
Performance Akram Khan & Sylvie Guillem
Additional choreography (Sylvie’s solo) Lin Hwai Min
Additional choreography (Akram’s solo) Gauri Sharma Tripathi
Composer Philip Sheppard
Additional music material adapted from songs by Iva Bittova, Nando Acquaviva and Toni Casalonga
Alies Sluiter – violin
Coordt Linke – percussion
Faheem Mazhar – male vocal
Juliette Van Peteghem – female vocal
Laura Anstee or Philip Sheppard – cello