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Turning to discussions on a new dance commission within the Series, it was clear that Larbi was our perfect collaborator. As an admirer of his work for some time, I was aware that he dealt in belonging and identities, but had not, until now, explored his own Moroccan roots within dance.

We began a conversation about the Arabic Series and how his own work might have a place within it. This fed and nourished the direction that early preparation for Babel, the final part of his trilogy, took. It would be a journey into the myth of the tower of Babel in modern-day Iraq and explore the tensions and beauty within that part of the world today. His co-collaborator, Damien Jalet, travelled to the Region to gain his own personal insights for the work.

Babel embraces today’s global babble… the dancers jostle for space inside Antony Gormley’s vast boxes in a burst of languages and a frenzy of movement. They worked with the sufi master musician Fahrettin Yarkin in rehearsals, creating furious movement inspired by elements of dhikr (remembrance). As the dancers inhale and exhale, they speak the name of God, Allah. Larbi recently chatted to me about the contrast between hearing the words Deus and Allah spoken on stage. He spoke of how non-confrontational the use of the word Deus was, sung in early classical music, and of the intensity and possible fear that could emerge for audiences when hearing Allah spoken onstage. He was aware of the powerful impact that the word alone could bring.

Josephine Burton, Artistic Director, Dash Arts