Arab history dances close

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Arab history dances close

Dancing may seem like a simple sequence of body movements but it can be about history, culture and humanity itself.
The International Dance Council-UNESCO hosts an annual festival that delves into those dimensions of dance. The event, “Korean Dance Meets World Music” runs Tuesday and Wednesday at the Korea Culture and Art Foundation.
This year, eight prominent choreographers are presenting pieces performed by Korean dancers and set to Arabian music.
“Korean Dance Meets World Music” began in 1998 with Korean dancers performing to Spanish music. Over the years, performers have danced to music from Eastern Europe, Australia, Brazil and Japan.
Organizers chose this year’s theme for its timeliness, since the world’s attention has been largely focused on the Middle East. These performances are meant to celebrate the history of the region and the wealth of its culture rather than focus on war and strife.
Jang Eun-jung, a choreographer with the Korean Contemporary Ballet Company, says her work, “Allah Ali,” celebrates peace.
“The theme of my work is very anti-war,” Ms. Jang said in a phone interview. “I wanted to console those innocents who died because of war. It was a unique way for me to experience such a stereotyped culture. I hope the audience will feel similarly.”
Allah is Islamic name for God and Ali is the name of the 12-year-old boy who lost both arms in the recent war in Iraq.
Ms. Jang has chosen three Arabian pieces of music for her work, which will be performed by three dancers selected from the Korean Contemporary Ballet.
“Allah Ali” is comprised of three sections. The first is backed by Zen Zila, Algerian rock music, which is used to portray the West’s hypocrisy in exercising unilateral power toward the East. Al-Hadra, Sufi music, is used in the second part to depict Muslim religious beliefs. The finale, an emotional climax, is accompanied by a raoui, an Arabian instrument.
The beautiful but sad tunes are meant to depict the pain of Ali that is ultimately the pain of the Arabic world.
The dance pieces by the other choreographers are also set to music that runs the gamut from traditional to contemporary, all played on a diverse array of instruments.
“I took me a year to learn about the culture and select the right music,” Ms. Jang said. “Hopefully, my work will deliver my intentions and show what Arab culture has become for me.”

by Park Eun-sil

“Korean Dance Meets World Music” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Korea Culture and Art Foundation. Tickets cost from 15,000 won to 20,000 won ($12-$16.50). For more information, contact (02) 763-1178.
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