María Pagés and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui stand side by side, arms rippling.
With Pagés, the undulating movements have the taut, sculptural quality of flamenco. Cherkaoui's arms float and curl like fronds of seaweed. Their dance styles meet but stay distinct, just as, in a beautifully lit sequence, their shadows overlap and move past each other.
Dunas refers to sand dunes, a landscape important to the Andalusian Pagés and the Flemish-Moroccan Cherkaoui. At first, the dunes are evoked through golden light and draped fabric. They push towards each other through swathes of cloth. As they reach towards each other over the fabric barrier, the stretched fabric looks like wings, springing up from each pair of shoulders.
When they dance behind the cloth, gorgeously lit by Felipe Ramos, you can often see the shadows more clearly than the real moving bodies. Pagés and Cherkaoui are several feet apart, but their shadows dance together.
Cherkaoui draws pictures in sand, his patterns projected onto a screen behind Pagés. She throws one arm up, and he draws branches around it, turning her body into a tree. Then he adds a fruit, but scrubs it out when she tries to pick it. Because the sand drawing is filmed from below, you can just make out Cherkaoui's quick fingers making his patterns, a creator looming over his stage.
He creates more pictures: Adam and Eve, or a fish pursued by bigger fish, and saved when he draws a goldfish bowl around it. His images are quick and funny, though Cherkaoui can't resist adding a drawing of the Twin Towers: a weaker point that doesn't go anywhere. Dunas is an episodic work, coming to several false conclusions before its ending.
Though Pagés and Cherkaoui are both credited as directors and choreographers, she's much more the dancing star, with Cherkaoui creating frames for her. Cherkaoui's own dancing is distinctive, full of boneless wriggles and mooching pliés, but there's no question that she's the virtuoso.
Having met in the middle, each reverts to home ground. Cherkaoui folds a cloth into a puppet. When he hands it to her, she cradles it as a child, then starts to dance – and it becomes a flamenco dancer's scarf again, whirling and fluttering about her.Reuse content