CULTURE

Performing Shaolin monks begin their Greek tour tonight

Originally booked for two nights in Athens at the open-air Lycabettus Theater, but now scheduled for three performances – tonight, tomorrow, and Friday – the Shaolin Legend, a group of Chinese Buddhist monks whose performance combines the martial arts, theater and dance, may well provide audiences with a glimpse of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Hailing from a Shaolin temple in China’s Henan province, the team, in Greece for the first time, will perform several shows around the country. Requiring dexterity, endurance and discipline, the Shaolin Legend show tells the Buddhist temple’s history, now some 1,500 years old. The Shaolin martial arts were begun in the sixth century by Bodhidharma, a traveling Buddhist monk from India. Bodhidharma taught that enlightenment, God, came from within and not from outside. By the 7th century, over 1,000 monks lived at the Shaolin temple. The Shaolin monks existed at the sufferance of the emperor, who on occasion used the monks to put down civil unrest. The original Shaolin temple was destroyed in the early 1920s. Rebuilt in the 1950s, it is today a popular tourist destination. The Shaolin Legend’s other performances in Greece will be: July 15 – Porto Carras Festival, Halkidiki; July 16 – Edessa; July 17 – Choros Politeia, Patras; July 19 – Gis Theater, Thessaloniki; July 21 – Kalamata Theater (Almyrou Beach). Bookings: 210.931.5600.