Kaohsiung's Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts will play host to a contemporary dance performance featuring renowned Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and seventeen Shaolin monks in early March.
The dance piece, titled "Sutra” for the Indian concept of "thread,” offers a series of stanzas linked together by a common theme. Under the vision of set designer Antony Gormley, each monk is paired with a giant wood crate that seemingly symbolize a personal crucifix by itself, only to create new sights such as city walls and a blossoming lotus in bouts of skilled re-arrangements.
Cherkaoui is said to have spent up to half a year in Shaolin Temple, where he felt "at home” as a fellow practicing vegetarian and lover of yoga and martial arts. Discussions with a warrior monk on the sublimity of animal movement inspired the collaboration, and the addition of Buddhism enthusiast Gormley and Polish composer Szymon Brzoska brought forth all the essential elements needed for "Sultra.”
Beneath the showy appearance of "Sutra” is a true undercurrent of mutual understanding among the choreographer and the seventeen Shaolin monks, none of whom speak English. Even with no language in common, true cultural dialogue can occur. Perhaps, this is one thread that the audience has overlooked.
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