Incredible Dance Illusion Makes Two Men Look Like Their Bodies Intersect Each Other


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A post shared by Damien Jalet (@damienjalet)

Renowned choreographer Damien Jalet, who most recently collaborated with French street artist JR, took a walk down memory lane when he posted a clip from D'avant, a mind-boggling dance performance. In it, we see Jalet and choreographer Luc Dunberry contort their bodies in impressive ways during a costumes duet. Dressed in contrasting-colored suits, they use their movement to provide comic relief.

Jalet's post is a reminder of what an impressive piece of performance D'avant was. First performed in 2002, it was created by Jalet, Dunberry, Juan Kruz Díaz de Garaio Esnaola, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. All of the men are impressive in their own right. Dunberry and Esnaola are longtime members of the Sasha Waltz and Guests, and also choreograph their own work. Cherkaoui is a legendary dancer and choreographer who was the longtime artistic director of the Royal Ballet of Flanders and recently choreographed Madonna's Celebration tour. Jalet continues to work in theater and even choreographed the Paul Thomas Anderson 2019 dance film Anima, which starred Radiohead's Thom Yorke.

D'avant sprung from the men's shared love of dance and music. At the time, Cherkaoui and Jalet were offstage partners, and they brought in the duo of Dunberry and Esnaola to collaborate on a unique piece of art that combined theater and dance. Together, they moved through identities that varied from medieval flagellants to soccer hooligans to a boy band.

Created when the men were in their 20s, D'avant is a physically demanding piece that saw each of them push their bodies to the limit. Through life changes, including the split between Charkaoui and Jalet, for 13 years, the men continued to stage an annual performance of the piece. And though they are no longer performing the routine, it's clear that it still holds a special space in their heart.

Over 20 years after its creation, D'avant remains in high regard for its ability to combine dance, farce, and theater in a unique manner that highlights the power of movement.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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