October 2, 2014

Analysis of Strange Sumerian Dance Performed in the Louvre Museum

Warning: This video contains adult content. Viewer discretion is advised. 

Last year, the Louvre Museum in Paris featured this performance at one of its special evening events. The performance repeated continuously into the wee hours of the night. This dance was performed by les étudiants du conservatoire d'Anvers (students from the ARTESIS Royal Dance Conservatory of Belgium in Antwerp). It was designed by French choreographer Damien Jalet. With the help of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Jalet created this strange dance repertoire of short performances, each of about fifteen minutes.

A few of the pieces really stuck out to me, like the first sequence called “Above head.” It was performed amid decapitated sculptures the Sumerian ruler Gudea. During the dance, someone brings back the spirit of a king who lost his head. He does this by having a Sumerian face drawn on his bald head. The intent was to make us feel that we were watching the decapitated head dance before our eyes.

Another was ,"The Evocation.” This dance was said to be inspired by a Sufi ritual based on the repetition of the word challah and the rhythm of the breath. It is a quite fitting title, as the very definition of evocation is the act of calling or summoning a spirit, demon, god or other supernatural agent. More often a term used in the Western mystery tradition, although not exclusive.

These strange scenes left some of the audience perplexed, one member saying that a particular sequence called, “Venus in Furs,” left her confused. Venus in Furs featured an intense mysterious veiled woman and the animal hybrid from which it originated.

In "Sin,” we see a somewhat erotic dance inspired by the myth of the primordial couple, or rebis; very esoteric.

"Venari,"was an interesting sort of primitive piece that seemed to imply hunting or sympathetic magic, perhaps a reference to Artemis, as well.

Yet another sequence, called "Daedalus,” was likened to the labyrinth created by Daedalus to enclose the Minotaur. This combination eluded to the loss of self in the other and suggests the inseparability of man from his animal side, which guides or dominates.

In addition to the video, here are some interesting stills, courtesy of the Louvre. What are your thoughts? Is this beautiful, intriguing, or just downright creepy?


1 comment:

  1. This Beyonce clip shows some of the movements, (but sexed up)

    I can't remember now, but I remember there was a composer (I think it was Brahms.) Who when asked how he came up with a particular symphony, he said he couldn't take credit because it "Came to him" from somewhere or someone else. I am fascinated with the "zone" artists, athletes and meditators get into when they stop conscious thought. I think these type of rituals...especially the "Evocation," you posted shows that back in ancient times they were able to tap into this knowledge without being labeled a kook, like what happens now.

    By making your body do these extreme formulaic movements, I think you bring forth spirits into yourself and to the material world. Keep Posting!!!