Photo courtesy of Mobius London.
If you are a fan of modern dance, you won't want to miss A Festival of Korean Dance 2023 at The Place in London. This festival showcases some of the most exciting and experimental dance works from Korea, featuring both established and emerging choreographers. This author was excited to attend the Opening Night on April 28 which presented a Double Bill by the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company (KNCDC/국립현대무용단).
The KNCDC is one of the leading contemporary dance companies in Korea, with a repertoire that ranges from classical to modern, from abstract to narrative. The Double Bill consisted of two works by new-generation Korean talent: Mechanism by Jaeyoung Lee (이재영) and Everything Falls Dramatic by Sungim Her (허성임).
‘Mechanism’ is a dynamic and energetic piece that explores the relationship between humans and machines. The dancers move with precision and power, creating patterns and rhythms that resemble mechanical devices. The music, composed by Bluechan, blends traditional Korean instruments with electronic sounds, creating a contrast between organic and artificial. The costumes, designed by Jinhee Lee (이진희), are also inspired by machinery, with metallic colors and geometric shapes.
‘Everything Falls Dramatic’ is a more introspective and poetic piece that reflects on the meaning and value of the human body. The dancers express their emotions and thoughts through subtle and fluid movements, using their bodies as a medium of communication. The dancers start out in silence, lying on the floor without moving, but gradually, they start to ‘wake up’ as the music, composed by Husk Husk, builds and builds to an eventual crescendo. The costumes, designed by Sunyeol Im (임선열), are simple but elegant, highlighting the beauty and diversity of the human form.
Both pieces were well-received by the audience, who applauded and cheered enthusiastically at the end of each performance. The Double Bill was a great example of the creativity and diversity of Korean contemporary dance, and surely a highlight of the festival. The audience was also treated to an after-show Q&A with the choreographers and some of the dancers which including some intriguing questions and humorous answers.
If you missed the opening night, don't worry: you can still catch other shows in the festival until May 11 at The Place and other venues across the UK. For more information, visit kccuk.org.uk/en/programmes/koreandancefestival2023/ and theplace.org.uk/whats-on.
-Timothy Holm for the KBCE