Cherkaoui, Gormley, Khan, and Sawhney – Zero Degrees, 2008
Moroccan-Flemish choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, though most well known for his work with Les Ballets C. de la B, created this 2008 piece with the scenography of Antony Gormley which in Zero Degrees is composed of two life sized human figures which were cast from the dancers in this piece. Though Gromley says his work is meant to embody the material of the physical self in order to “attempt to materialize the place at the other side of appearance where we all live (in the body) this collaboration entails a dynamic Gromley figuration (the figures can be moved) in contradistinction to the static tensions created in Gromley pieces through his use of metal castings and monumental size. Dancers include Akram Khan who was well know for the development of a unique and personal “Kathak’ style* (one of the eight forms of Indian classical dances, originating from northern India and areas of Pakistan) in his dance performances.
Composer Nitin Sawhney attempts a hybrid formulation of musical styles and tones integrating motifs of a pan-global east/west. The integration of multicultural harmonic styling’s was meant to signify the multiple border fusions precariously balanced with the event of the dance and its environment.
Sidi Larbi Chekaoui & Antony Gormley – Sutra, 2008
Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s dance which is singularly inspired by Buddhist Shaolin monks and the philosophic motions of the body which they express within their religious culture again collaborates with Antony Gormley. The stage design of Gormley is comprised of 21 wooden boxes which are rearranged in the context of the dance to form a variable and alterable scenographic landscape.
*This dance form traces its origins to the Nomadic Bard/Storytellers of ancient northern India called the Kathaks. The Kathaks would make their livelihood by theatrical and highly performative storytelling done in village squares, Marketplaces, and various public venues which could contain a crowd. The tales predominately focus on mythological or moral tales derived from scriptural anecdotes and are most well known for the elaborate hand gestures and facial expressions which accompany the storytelling. Additionally there would at times be the use of instrumental backing and singing to accompany the tales and gestures.
*Buddhist Shaolin monks inhabit and train at the Shaolin Monastery or Shaolin Temple (Chinese: 少林寺; pinyin: Shàolín Sì; Wade–Giles: Shao-lin Ssu; Cantonese Yale: Síulàhm Jih) which is a Chán Buddhist temple at Song Shan near Zhengzhou City Henan Province in Dengfeng, China. As of this date the monastary is lead by the abbot Shi Yǒngxìn. The Temple and its foundational philosophy of movement and strength, Shaolin Kung Fu, is founded on notions of the spirit as embodied by the the Bodhisattva Vajrapani, who is considered the temples prime deity, secondary to Buddha, of course. Vajrapani has been venerated in the Monastery from the eighth century for the bestowing of superhuman strength and fighting prowess. Shaolin monk Sengchou (480-560) was said to be the first to receive the gifts of supernatural strength and fighting ability by the proper veneration of Vajrapani along with a strict diet of raw meat.