Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui pushes the boundaries of international collaboration over a cliff in this work, premiered in Peking in 2013. The combination of his own organic, flowing choreography with that of Chinese dance/soap opera star Yabin Wang, Japanese-themed weirdness and music that derives from Poland, India, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tibet is a rich mix, to put it mildly.
On Liu Kedong’s intriguing set consisting of a series of Perspex boxes which can be moved around to create rooms, corridors and display cabinets, the dancers in white lab coats and surgical masks jerk, shift and sway like doctors or human specimens under observation. A man breaks out and rolls around on the floor until he is covered in blood. Another dancer uncovers a corpse on an autopsy table and proceeds to reanimate him. Assuming that the title suggests the beginning of life and birth – and the quotes from Genesis bear this out – this represents a kind of sterile Frankenstein story, a test tube testament.
The music switches abruptly between genres, stark white light lashes the stage and some images etch themselves on the mind; a sequence involving glass globes is mesmerising, even if it belongs more rightly in a circus act; Yabin Wang (who created the ‘long sleeve’ dance in The House of Flying Daggers) becomes a creepy mutant insect when her arms are apparently extended. She folds and enfolds and unfolds herself in a sensual duet before delivering a solo in which she dances with her own long black hair, winding and wrapping it around her like a lover or a ghost in a Japanese horror movie. There is an awful lot of falling on the floor and flinging of hair. I think maybe something got lost in translation.