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Life with Lavendar in London town

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Sutra

I've just come back from seeing Sutra at Sadlers Wells. Of the current Sadlers' programme, it was the one show I was most anticipating seeing. The combination of Shaolin monks, Antony Gormley design and contemporary dance posed an interesting challenge and I was curious to see what the outcome would be.

I don't go see many dance shows these days because I have become super picky. It's not something I'm proud of but rather the by-product of having watched dance shows since I was five. It actually started earlier when I was a toddler but I don't remember those shows even though my mum was in them.

As I sat watching the theatrics of Sutra, I tried not to be uncharitable in my thoughts. I looked for the bright spots. The clear lines. The light humour. The interesting idea of putting a show together as if it was a Lego set. The visual synchronicity of the monks in dark suits. I did like some of the images. I tried hard to like the rest. But I had to try. It didn't set me on fire.

Before we went into the show, my friend and I had a chat about dance choreographers. We discussed (in our opinion) which current choreographers rated on the world stage and which were big locally. We tried in vain to list more than a handful from memory. We couldn't. As we both work in the dance industry this means we officially suck at our jobs.

You know what,? I said. You know why we can't think of anyone apart from one or two?

My friend looked askance. No. Why?

Because there aren't any that are so amazing that we remember them.

It occurred to me this week after Michael Jackson's death and also Pina Bauschs' that dance has lost two of its brightest sparks. Jackson was a superlative dancer. He had it and he shared it and made us all want to dance as well. Pina was brilliant too. She plumbed our murky human depths and conjured up some of the most beautiful and eloquent imagery onstage that I have seen in contemporary dance. Both were pioneers in their own way. Both of them set me alight when I watched them.

The term Sutra means (according to Wikipedia), a rope or thread that holds things together. I looked for this thread in the performance tonight and I saw only what I see too often in dance shows. Nothing holding anything together apart from a few gimmicks and a lot of hot air. It was entertainment I guess but it wasn't enough for me.

I want the real deal. Where is it? Who is it?

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