Sutra at Sadler’s Wells

One of Sadler’s Wells’ most successful productions, Sutra returns to London from Monday 26 – Wednesday 28 March to celebrate its 10th anniversary after touring around the globe to sell-out audiences. This award-winning collaboration between choreographer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, sculptor Antony Gormley and 19 Buddhist monks from the Shaolin Temple in China is one of Sadler’s Wells’ longest running and most exhilarating productions. Sutra embarks on an international tour from MarchMay 2018. The show visits New Theatre Oxford on 23 and 24 March, marking the only other UK performance dates for the production.

Since its first sell-out performances at Sadler’s Wells in London in May 2008, Sutra has toured to 66 cities in 33 countries across the world. The production plays its 200th performance when it returns to the Sadler’s Wells stage. With Gormley’s striking set of 21 wooden boxes and Polish composer Szymon Brzóska’s specially commissioned score performed live, Sutra is a breath-taking spectacle of athleticism that explores the philosophy and faith behind the Shaolin tradition and its relationship with kung fu within a contemporary context. Sutra received the Production of the Year Award in the Ballet Tanz magazine 2009 yearbook, voted for by 30 international dance critics.

The monks performing in Sutra are from the original Shaolin Temple, situated near Dengfeng City in the Henan Province of China and established in 495AD by monks originating from India. In 1983, the State Council defined the Shaolin Temple as the key national Buddhist Temple. The monks follow a strict Buddhist doctrine, with kung fu and tai chi martial arts forming an integral part of their daily practice. There are many martial arts schools that have also been set up in the region under the name of Shaolin, from which performers for many of the more commercial Shaolin Monk shows are drawn. The performers in Sutra however are all Buddhist Monks from the original temple itself.

The title Sutra is derived from the Pali word sutta, whose primary meaning is a collective term for the sermons of Buddha. It is also a generic term for rules and aphorisms, in Hinduism sutras laid down the guidelines for proper conduct in life. The word in Sanskrit also meant string, thread, measure of straightness.

Sutra is accompanied by a live, specially commissioned score for five musicians, including piano, percussion and strings by Szymon Brzóska, who also collaborated with Cherkaoui on Dunas (2009), Orbo Novo (2009) performed by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Labyrinth (2011) – his first full length ballet score commissioned by Dutch National Ballet.

For further details of the Sutra 2018 international tour please visit:

*Image credit: Hugo Glendinning

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