Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra is fascinating, it combines martial arts with live contemporary music, composed by Szymon Brzóska, and a mobile scenery of wooden boxes designed by sculptor Antony Gormley. The performers of this dance piece are not dancers but young Buddhist monks that have trained in Kung-Fu in the Shaolin Temple in China.
The wooden boxes are man-sized and throughout the whole piece they become the place that the monks inhabit and where they jump, move, restrain their movements, live, fight and rest. The box becomes a metaphor of the body that contains the mind, embodying the constant conflict between these two forces. On the other hand, the simplicity of the wooden boxes also reminds us of the inevitability of death. Although the boxes are concrete objects, they move and dance in the geometrical equation of the space.
One of the central characters is a boy, who plays inside the boxes as if he was a little mouse hiding from the adult world but aspiring to live in that world in the future. The boy observes the other monks with admiration but he cannot wait to fight like them and therefore he repeats their Kung-Fu sequences. He and Cherkaoui play with small replicas of the man-sized boxes, while the monks do sequences of movement, kicks, turns and summersaults that dislocate time, elongating the present moment in space.
The Belgian-Moroccan choreographer plays with the boy in a gesture of respect towards the discipline of the young monks who train all their lives to be able to do what they do with their bodies, in order to achieve mental control and spirituality.