In this interview, acclaimed artist Anthony Gormley talks about designing the set for Sutra, a new dance performance opening at the Hippodrome tomorrow night.
Although I’ll own that I’m a complete newcomer to the world of contemporary dance and physical theatre, I am very familiar with the work of Anthony Gormley from GCSE and A-level art courses (if you’re a regular at the Hippodrome, you’ll almost certainly have seen his Iron: Man in Victoria Square). As such, I suspect that this will be my main route into an understanding of tomorrow night’s performance: from the trailers, I can already see that, much like Gormley’s previous work, Sutra seems heavily concerned with the human form and the idea of space: both the spaces that our bodies occupy, and the idea of the body itself as a space or place, into and out of which consciousness can move. In the interview, he describes Sutra as “an investigation of freedom and confinement”; a way of showing that, while “the body can be confined…in some sense, the imagination can go anywhere”.
From what I’ve seen so far, Sutra appears to be a highly collaborative and very visually striking piece. I really enjoyed watching the interview with choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, who talks about his the experience of working with the Chinese monks that form Sutra‘s cast, particularly the Head Monk, Master Yen Dao, who is himself an artist and musician. Cherkaoui describes his fascination with the stark contrast between the warrior monks’ energy and expressiveness, and the absolute, stone-like stillness of meditation, and suggests that much of what he has been able to achieve with this production has been down to their openness and enthusiasm. There’s also an interview with composer Szymon Brzoska, who talks about using music to capture the meditative nature of the performance and of the monks’ way of life.
I’m still not entirely sure what I’ll make of this production, not having much of a yardstick against which to judge it, but I can say that I hope very much that it will be as interesting as it looks on the website. Let’s hope that, as promised, Sutra manages both to capture and set free its audience’s imaginations.