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'Sutra' features Buddhist monks and western flair

	Junior Patrick Spaugh poses with the Shaolin Monks of “Sutra” as they tour UNC, one of two spots in which “Sutra” will perform in the U.S.

Junior Patrick Spaugh poses with the Shaolin Monks of “Sutra” as they tour UNC, one of two spots in which “Sutra” will perform in the U.S.

For Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, martial arts and Buddhist traditions are more than just lifelong interests — he blends them with his own unique background to form a spectacle of modern dance.

This spectacle, called “Sutra,” will only be performed at two venues in the United States on this world tour.
One of these venues is UNC’s Memorial Hall, as a part of the University’s Carolina Performing Arts series.

“In a lot of ways, ‘Sutra’ is one of, if not the performance to see in 2010,” said Sean McKeithan, marketing and communications coordinator for Carolina Performing Arts.

“Sutra” will showcase Eastern traditions through Western dance. Buddhist monks from China’s Shaolin Temple will perform a dance Cherkaoui created after spending months in their monastery.

Cherkaoui is a Flemish-Moroccan choreographer who specializes in contemporary dance.

In order to learn about the traditions of Buddhism, Cherkaoui traveled to the Shaolin Temple, one of the most renowned Buddhist monasteries in the world.

While at the monastery, Cherkaoui worked alongside Shaolin monks to choreograph the dance for his performance piece, as his Western heritage blended contemporary dance with Eastern teachings and performance art.

“He has had a lifelong interest in Buddhism and disciplines of martial arts in general,” said Harry Kaplowitz, marketing manager for Carolina Performing Arts.

“He wanted to create a piece, a performance that centers around these traditions.”

Seventeen Shaolin monks perform in the piece alongside Cherkaoui himself, who adds a “Western presence” to the performance, Kaplowitz said.

Cherkaoui collaborated with British sculpture artist Antony Gormley to create the set for “Sutra,” creating 21 large wooden boxes with which the dancers perform.

The score was written by Polish composer Szymon Brzoska. Brzoska’s music is played live during the performance.
“This is the work of many creative minds coming together,” Kaplowitz said.

Since its debut in 2008, “Sutra” has been presented worldwide, gaining a favorable reputation.

The performances in Memorial Hall are one of two U.S. appearances for the ensemble. The other is at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

“It’s a big accomplishment for us to bring [Sutra],” said McKeithan. “It’s a huge, exciting thing to offer to our patrons.”

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