Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui wins top Ultima prize
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui will receive the Ultima award for General Cultural Merit on 16 May, the Department of Culture, Youth and Media has announced.
The choreographer from Antwerp will be recognised for his body of work during the award show held at Tour & Taxis in Brussels. His category is the most important of the 13 prizes to be presented. Cherkaoui will receive 20,000 euros along with his prize.
"With this Ultima, we want to pay tribute to Cherkaoui for his groundbreaking oeuvre, his open mind, multi-voiced approach and unique, connecting language," the jury said.
Cherkaoui's 23 years of work as a professional dancer includes more than 50 original choreographies, a Prix Benois de la Danse, two Olivier Awards, the Prize for Flemish Performing Arts and three titles as Choreographer of the Year from Tanz Magazine.
His choreography focuses primarily on the themes of spirituality, identity and a fascination with other cultures.
"His work is poetic, broad, innovative and partly aimed at bringing contemporary dance to a wider audience"
Born in Antwerp in 1976, Cherkaoui began dancing at the age of 15. He performed as a dancer on variety shows and studied at P.A.R.T.S, the school for contemporary dance in Brussels.
From 2015, he was artistic director of the ballet for Opera Ballet Vlaanderen. In 2022 he was appointed artistic director of ballet for Le Grand Théâtre de Genève in Switzerland but remains connected with OBV. He has choreographed pieces for Toneelhuis in Antwerp, Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris and for pop star Beyoncé.
"Dance in Flanders is at an exceptionally high level, and that is largely due to the work of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui over the last 20 years," the Ultimas jury said. "His work is poetic, broad, innovative and partly aimed at bringing contemporary dance to a wider audience."
The Ultimas award ceremony can be streamed live on VRT Max and Radio 1 from 19.00 on 16 May.
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