Shaolin monks catch the dancing habit

'They may be best known internationally for their high-octane, martial-arts routines, but the monks - based in the Shaolin Chan Buddhist monastery in China - will be in more reflective mood in the piece, entitled Sutra, for which artist Antony Gormley is designing the set and the lighting. Performed by 16 dancers, the piece - which the monks (photo above) themselves asked choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui to create - considers the monks' relationship with living creatures, and the ways in which the human body can re-interpret the spirit and energy of animals such tigers and snakes. "The monks wished for Sidi Larbi to create something different to their usual martial arts and bright lights routine, which has become a sort of circus," Gormley says. "We wanted to go back to the internal conceits of Chan Buddhism, about the philosophy of emptiness, and how energy goes through but is never contained by the body." '

Report from today's Guardian. Now read about a surprising link between another great dance piece, The Rite of Spring, and Buddhist Tibet.
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