Sutra, the latest and most daring work by Belgian/Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui premiered at Sadlers Wells in London earlier this week. Best known for his celebrated performance with Akram Kahn in Zero Degrees, Larbi continues the collaborative theme in Sutra working with monks from the Shaolin Temple in China, the British artist Anthony Gormley and the Polish composer Szymon Brzóska to create a dynamic and explosive show.
Larbi travelled to the Shaolin Temple in May of last year, taking with him the spirit of Bruce Lee, an interest in Martial Arts and Gormley's concept of large wooden boxes as sculptural counterpoints to the human bodies. The boxes were large enough for the monks to stand inside and functioned as building blocks for the set. Through being carried and pushed around the stage they worked as performers in their own right, transforming into moving symbols of roads, walls, boats, cities, fortresses and temples.
The combination of Larbi's choreography and the monk's acrobatic movements through the internal and external spaces of the boxes is amazingly dramatic. The performance melds the spirit of Buddhism, Kung Fu and western contemporary dance into a fluid journey of spiritual and physical symbolism.