22 September 2010

Sutra: Shaolin Monks

As a remarkable counterpoint to the Southside Festival on 18 September, on Sunday 19th we went at the encouragement of Patrick Pang, the Australian director of the Shaolin Temple to the Opera House in Sydney to see Sutra, about which I later wrote to Liz to say:
See in the short clip below that the Belgian-Moroccan choreographer is 'choreographing' or conducting the swordsman while the boy watches. The choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui spent three months with the Shaolin three years ago, has developed this project with them since. He remarked on how with a Belgian Flemish mother and Moroccan father he was always aware of being an individual, observing people 'living in their boxes', unaware. He had found that the Shaolin were, monks in a communist country, so much more open to new ideas and with a sense of freedom than many affluent, 'free', isolated, unhappy people in Europe. When the impresarios came and asked him "was this checked out by the government in China" he would answer "What is it that you think you are doing?" You see the use of boxes (by a sculptor) on the stage, for stunning effects as well as the sense in the choreographer's thoughts on life. The string group is behind the diaphanous backdrop. Wonderful music, the whole thing hypnotic, for about 70 minutes. Endorsement also of a life doing many things not in boxes  ... :-)