[ON STAGE]Some Angst for the Memories

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[ON STAGE]Some Angst for the Memories

"Red Buddha," a dance performance by the emerging choreographer Hong Seung-yup, opens at the LG Arts Center Friday for a two-day run.

Mr. Hong, the director of the local dance company Dance Theater On, received an enthusiastic response at last year's Lyon Dance Biennale in France. His previous productions include "The Mountain Going Backward," "Deja Vu" and "The Fifth Role," all of which explored philosophical questions.

Divided into three acts, "Flowers and Clay," "Red Buddha" and "Mandara and Winds," the performance deals with the anxieties of contemporary daily life, although in a way that may puzzle some viewers.

"Red is the most provocative pigment of all," Mr. Hong explains in his production notes. But while the color is meant to have several symbolic interpretations, he says that he intended no religious connotations to be attached to his use of the Buddha. "It was simply to illustrate a paradox in life," he says.

"I chose red primarily because it carries a secular meaning. The 'Red Buddha' represents a human being in an agonizing moment. It symbolizes a person who is faithful to his reality while acknowledging his limitations."

In the performance, 14 dancers make small miniatures of Buddha out of clay on stage. The same dancers later violently trample these objects and instead make molds in the shape of human excrement, dancing around them with dynamic gestures. The dancers also employ, the press release for the production says, "provocative gestures which are, in fact, meaningless."

To quote the American humor columnist Dave Barry, we are not making this up.

An experimental dance company that has been using a mix of classical ballet and contemporary dance techniques since its formation in 1993, Dance Theater On is known for staging amorphous works with a large dose of spontenaity.

According to Park Boo-young, a staff writer at the Buddhist Newspaper, Buddhists are reacting quite tolerantly to the show, which was not the case in earlier years. "There is also an upcoming film called 'Let's Play with Dharma.' But that didn't cause any problems either. For this performance, since it't new, it will largely depend on how they put into context," Mr. Park said.

Mr. Hong's productions oppose the current local contemporary dance trend toward works that deal with social issues. Meaninglessless evidently is a release for those with an excess of angst.

For ticket information, call 02-2005-1426 (English service available).

by Park Soo-mee

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