SIDance festival Philistine-friendlyAre you one of those people who thinks modern dance is incomprehensible or boring?
Don't worry, there still may be hope for you. Check out one of the performances that dance companies will be putting on during this year's Seoul International Dance Festival, which began Monday and runs through Oct. 24. Organized by the local chapter of Unesco's International Dance Council, the event was designed to appeal to a broad audience.
A good primer for a dance Philistine would be the performance by one of Japan's leading contemporary dance companies, Condors, which is named after its director and choreographer, Ryohei Kondo. The piece has a combination of dance, animation and dialogue. The organizers say it is guaranteed to obliterate your stress and make you laugh out loud. The company is all-male, and consists of nonprofessional dancers.
Among the other international troupes of note are Switzerland's Ventura Dance Company, Russia's Olga Pona and the Chelyabinsk Theatre of Contemporary Dance, and Argentina's and France's Fascination de Tango.
The Ventura Dance Company's piece, "Zone," explores relationships between dance and technology. It uses a huge industrial machine as a backdrop and as part of the dance sequence. The troupe's choreographer and artistic designer, Pablo Ventura, has been using computers in his dance creations since 1996.
The Russian troupe will be performing "Sketches from Nature," which has won awards at dance festivals for best choreography, and other works.
Dancers from Argentina and France combine to perform "Fascination de Tango," which lays traditional tango over themes from Hollywood. The music-intense show features Hollywood characters such as Bonnie and Clyde and Charlie Chaplin.
Domestic dancers will also participate, many of whom have distinguished themselves on international stages.
A traditional Korean court dance, Hangjang-mu, will be staged. The dance form was created by a gisaeng, or Korean traditional female entertainer. It was indirectly influenced by Chinese song-and-dance play, but evolved into a solo court dance with theatrical elements. Unlike other court dances, hangjang-mu has dialogues and is performed to orchestral music.
Also, a fourth-generation Korean American, Peggy Myo-young Choy, will perform works that express political and social issues regarding Asian Americans.
The Seoul International Dance festival has been held every year since 1998, and attracts about 10,000 people per year. Fourteen foreign and 24 domestic troupes will perform this year at some of Seoul's best art venues, such as the Seoul Arts Center and the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
The organizers held a gala opening on Monday at the Seoul Arts Center.
For more information on the performances, call 763-1178 or visit the event's Web site at www.sidance.org.
by Min Byung-hee