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Blog // Thoughts
March 5, 2007

Sacred Monsters

Fame can sometimes shackle artists. Reading some recent reviews of Prince’s 3121 shows in Las Vegas, it was clear that many concert-goers were frustrated at the artist’s reluctance to play some old hits. I remember sensing that angst when I saw him in concert back in 2002. At one point he played the opening two […]

Fame can sometimes shackle artists. Reading some recent reviews of Prince’s 3121 shows in Las Vegas, it was clear that many concert-goers were frustrated at the artist’s reluctance to play some old hits. I remember sensing that angst when I saw him in concert back in 2002. At one point he played the opening two bars of the hit song “Diamonds and Pearls” and as the crowd cheered, he stopped, smiled and went onto the next song.

Scared Monsters, the modern dance production that brings together Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan has been staged here as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival. It draws these sorts of tensions out as part of its material, tracing the tensions that arise as the two dancers grapple with their talents and fears.

The production is a rich east/west fusion driven by a powerful musical score, that transcends its function as background music and really becomes a co-storyteller along with the dance pieces and the short spoken word interludes.

Whilst the dancers clearly take their craft seriously, it was refreshing to see them treat themselves less so. The production always pulls back from the precipice of didacticism with a good mix of humour, wit and vulnerability.

Perhaps the most interesting theme was the role of tradition – as a constituative practice, restrictive system and source of joy and entertainment. Both dancers share a deep passion for the traditions that have shaped them (Ballet and Kathak, respectively), and helped them achieve greatness. They are happy to push beyond those traditions and explore new approaches, but never doing so in a way that fully rejects or neglects the practices that have shaped them.

It is thus, that with good humour and blistering dynamism that Sacred Monsters is able to explore one of the deepest paradoxes in the arts – the way that creativity is often fostered, sometimes explosively so, through restrictions and limitations.

[tags] Sacred Monsters, Hong Kong Arts Festival [/tags]

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