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Creation by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Icon trailer

About Icon

Icons. Religious leaders, politicians, pop stars, role models. We create them, reproduce them, worship them. All until the next regime, culture or trend takes over and replaces them with new ones. Why do we do this? Why do we feel the need to create icons - and destroy the ones we no longer worship? What happens within us when we build them up, and then witness their downfall?

Icon features 17 dancers moving in clay. 3.5 tons of clay, to be more precise. Is this even possible? During the autumn, GöteborgsOperans Danskompani and the Belgian ensemble Eastman will find the answer to this question, together with the choreographer, two clay masters and the artist Antony Gormley.

Icon is a creation by the multi-award winning Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the creator of 2014’s Noetic – one of GöteborgsOperans Danskompani’s most resounding successes of all time. For Icon, dancers from his own company, Eastman, will also take the stage. Just as for Noetic, he has chosen to collaborate with the world-renowned sculptor Antony Gormley, who accounts for the scenography: 3.5 tonnes of clay.

Bringing together art forms, cultures and traditions into a coherent whole can be seen as something of a calling card for Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. To specially-composed music, performed live by musicians and singers from Italy and Japan, the dancers interact with the clay in sophisticated, almost ritual patterns. An experience steeped in both mysticism and naturalism.


Choreography – Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Scenography – Antony Gormley
Costume design – Jan-Jan van Essche
Lighting Design – David Stokholm
Sound design – Joachim Bohäll
Dramaturgy – Antonio Cuenca Ruiz
Assistant choreographer – Jason Kittelberger
Clay Masters – Matilda Haggärde, Joel Stuart-Beck

Live musicians

Song and traditional japanese pick instrument (sanshin) – Anna Sato
Song and harp – Patrizia Bovi
Percussion, guitar and piano – Gabriele Miracle
Traditional japanese flutes (shinobue) and percussion (taiko) – Kazunari Abe
Traditional korean string instruments (geomungo and yanggeum), Amami intrument (tatégoto) – Woojae Park

Length – 65 minutes
Dancers – 18 (13 from GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, 5 from Eastman)
World premiere at The Göteborg Opera, 21 October 2016

Created in collaboration with the dancers from GöteborgsOperans Danskompani.


Arsira mi viddi
Sicilian carrettiere (labourer) song, collected by Ignazio Macchiarella. Arrangement by the musicians.

Traditional song from Amami, Japan about building a new house.

Rankan bashi
Traditional song from Amami, Japan. Arrangement by the musicians.

Sat vitte jo jo
Albanian lament from Calabria, transcription G. Marini. Arrangement by the musicians.

Traditional weaver's song from Amami, Japan.

Song of Sibyls
Anonymous 13th c. composition about the Day of the Judgement.

Cheap Thrills
Written by Sia and Greg Kurstin, produced by Greg Kurstin. From "This is acting" (2016). Arrangement by the musicians.

Je ne quit pas
14th c. French ballad written by Guillaume de Machaut. Arrangement by the musicians.

Naga asabana
Traditional song from Amami, Japan. "I'm just a child, I know nothing. Please teach me to sing”.

Santo Gesù
Traditional Easter processional song from Abruzzo, Italy. Mary stands in front of the cross weeping because her son is dying.

Lyrics by Tamiro Nakamura, music by Yutaka Tsuboyama, arrangement by Anna Sato. "Why are you leaving home like a butterfly? We will wait for you.”

Traditional song from Amami, Japan. Propitiatory song for the rain.

Traditional song from Amami, Japan. Arranged by Anna Sato. A dance for men that go to war.

Icon is a co-production with

deSingel International Arts Campus, Antwerp - De Munt/La Monnaie, Brussels - Sadler’s Wells, London - Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxemburg - La Villette, Paris - Movimentos Festwochen der Autostadt, Wolfsburg - Migros Culture Percentage Dance Festival Steps Zürich.

Eastman is supported by the Flemish Government and BNP Paribas Foundation.

Agents, programmers for venues and festivals

For access to the programme, press photos or a video of the entire performance, please send an email request to danskompani@opera.se

Photographer:  Mats Bäcker


Interviews, clay tests and stage rehearsals