A Journey through Faith and Imagination

Published: Tue 17 Nov 2009 03:52 PM
A Journey through Faith and Imagination
“This unique, profoundly imagined show takes the concept of cultural exchange to a whole new level…”The Guardian
Direct from the original Shaolin Temple in China, Saholin warrior monks perform the breathtaking dance work Sutra by of one of Europe’s most exciting choreographer-dancers, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, in its only Australasian performances at the New Zealand International Arts Festival next year.
Produced by the UK’s leading dance theatre Sadler’s Wells, Sutra has had two sellout seasons in London since it opened in May 2008. Cherkaoui spent several months living and working with the Buddhist monks in the Shaolin Temple near Dengfeng City in the Henan Province of China.
Cherkaoui is the winner of the Ballet Tanz Outstanding Choreographer of the Year in 2008 and the Kairos European Cultural Prize this year "because he raises fundamental questions about human existence through movement and because of the connections he makes between elements of different cultures."
Sutra is inspired by the monks’ skill, strength and spirituality, and Cherkaoui follows his life-long exploration of the philosophy and faith behind the Shaolin tradition, its relationship with Kung-Fu, and its position within a contemporary context. The 20 Shaolin monks performing in Sutra follow a strict Buddhist doctrine. Kung Fu and Tai Chi martial arts are an integral part of their daily regime.
Cherkaoui has collaborated closely with Turner Prize-winning artist Antony Gormley, whose stark set design consists of 21 wooden boxes that continually reconfigure throughout the performance, becoming solemn pillars, a vast ocean, a maze, stacked dormitory beds or the opening petals of a lotus flower.
Sutra is set to an original score by Polish composer Szymon Brzόska that is played live during the performance with piano, percussion and strings.
“Immediately following its Australasian premiere at the New Zealand International Arts Festival, Sutra will head back to London for its third season at London’s Dance House, Sadler’s Wells. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to host such an extraordinary work which juxtaposes the explosive release of martial arts with the spiritual stillness of the Shaolin tradition,” says Lissa Twomey, Artistic Director for the New Zealand International Arts Festival.
Sutra is sponsored by Hawkins Construction with support from the Asia New Zealand Foundation and The Southern Trust. Gold Partners: New Zealand Post Group, TV3, Clemenger BBDO, Pacific Blue. Funders: Absolutely Positively Wellington, Creative New Zealand
“Impossible to resist … astounding” Le Monde
WHEN: 26-28 February, 1-6 March (no show 2 March)
WHERE: St James Theatre

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