A small boy and a man sit facing each other, cross-legged, on one of 21 large oblong boxes. At first, the man seems to be telling a story that is brought to life behind them as a single warrior monk appears centre stage; or perhaps the man is a divine being, or a puppeteer who can manipulate events. Before we can decide, the wooden boxes begin to move, thumping and thudding forwards as they roll towards us on their long sides, revealing openings, like coffins without lids from which living people emerge.

This is an extraordinary collective work for a group of male performers who have none of the physical homogeneity of a corps de ballet, yet seem to think and move as one, as they appear and disappear among, between and inside the boxes. (more…)

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Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra is one of Sadler’s Wells’ most exhilarating productions and has toured around the globe to sell-out audiences and mass critical acclaim.

The award-winning collaboration between choreographer Cherkaoui, sculptor Antony Gormley and 19 Buddhist monks from the Shaolin Temple in China has been seen by over 160,000 people worldwide, achieving standing ovations wherever it has been seen.  This breathtaking spectacle of athleticism explores the philosophy and faith behind the Shaolin tradition and its relationship with kung fu within a contemporary context.

With Antony Gormley’s striking set of 21 wooden boxes and Polish composer Szymon Brzóska’s specially commissioned score performed live, Sutra is an incomparable work that has captured the hearts and imaginations of people the world over, as one of the stage’s most sophisticated productions and a true work of art.

★★★★★
Exceeds even out highest expectations
The Times

★★★★★
This unique, profoundly imagined show takes the concept of cultural exchange to a whole new level
The Guardian

Performances:  Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th March, 7.30pm

Venue:  New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:   £11.90-£34.90 plus £4 transaction fee; book online here

Natalia Osipova’s specially commissioned programme of contemporary dance at Sadler’s Wells was an opportunity to see one of the greatest dancers of her generation in new works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita.

In Cherkaoui’s Qutb (meaning ‘axis’ or ‘pivot’), Osipova, Jason Kittelberger and James O’Hara experimented with ways of moving together, testing the limits of gravity and their contrasting techniques as they used their own weight to support, balance and counterpoise each other. Changes in the music, which included Sufi vocals, gave an episodic structure to a work so packed with possible interpretations that its meaning was ambiguous: suggestions in the programme included, among other ideas, the aftermath of a natural disaster, the interaction of celestial bodies, or a rite of passage. It was sometimes hard to see clearly the complex entwining movement of the dancers on the darkened stage; the work would benefit by being performed in a smaller and more intimate space. (more…)

Now on general release, Joe Wright’s film version of Tolstoy’s tragic novel Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law, and with screenplay by Tom Stoppard, has divided opinions for its stylised use of a theatre setting.  Extensive use of dance and movement has been choreographed by highly respected contemporary choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.  Please post your thoughts and comments here as to what you think of this treatment, its strengths or weaknesses…

On this weekend and into next week at the Odeon George Street…
http://www.odeon.co.uk/fanatic/film_info/m13878/Anna_Karenina/

Rising –  Aakash Odedra Company, 26 September, Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse

Aakash Odedra is an extraordinary dancer and it is not surprising that other choreographers have chosen to create works on his body.  In Rising we saw a solo by Aakash Odedra himself followed by three others by Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

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Rising is a unique dance event bringing some of the world’s finest choreographers together on the same bill, each creating a solo work for the amazingly talented Aakash OderaRussell Maliphant (Broken Fall), Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Faith and Myth), Akram Khan (London’s 2012 Olympics opening ceremony) and Odera himself use music and Aakash’s background in Kathak and Bharatanatyam to fuse a new style of contemporary dance.

Tuesday 25 to Thursday 27 September, Burton Taylor Studio

Tickets: £12 (discounts £10) can be purchased from the Oxford Playhouse Ticket Office on 01865 305305 or online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com