Celebrating the male dancer, Tatmaroo takes to the stage

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Celebrating the male dancer, Tatmaroo takes to the stage

In the dance world, male dancers have been garnering attention in performances that traditionally feature women. Matthew Bourne brought his male troupe to Korea to perform his much-acclaimed “Swan Lake.” And now, Tatmaroo, based in Korea, is also celebrating the male dancer with a performance tomorrow at the National Theater of Korea.
While the 60-odd members of the Tatmaroo Dance Troupe are of both sexes, the cast for the “23rd Tatmaroo Performance” consists of three men. “The timing was perfect and this performance just came together,” says Hong Hae-jeon, a dancer with Tatmaroo.
At first, the troupe invited Ahn Byeong-seon, who had choreographed some of the opening festivities for the 2002 World Cup, to participate. Mr. Ahn, the former artistic director of Tatmaroo, now teaches modern dance at Soonchunhyang University in South Chungcheong province.
While the performance was being developed, Kim Hyeong-nam, who is based in Britain, was in Korea to perform “Winter Story.” Talks with Mr. Kim, winner of the Dongah Dance Contest, led to his inclusion. Since Mr. Ahn is in his 40s, and Mr. Kim is in his 30s, organizers looked for a dancer in his 20s to round out the cast. The choice led to Chung Yeon-su, who had won an award in the 21st Seoul Dance Festival.
The first piece, “Romeo and Juliet,” choreographed by Mr. Kim, is based on the famous Shakespeare play. But there’s no Romeo, there’s no Juliet and there are no people. The piece focuses on morality and love from another point of view. In this instance, the characters are dogs and a veterinarian.
The second piece, “A Change Compared to the Fluttering of a Butterfly’s Wing,” by Mr. Chung, is about the importance of small changes.
The third piece, “Hand : Signals,” by Mr. Ahn, is about communicating via gestures. “In the biblical history of humans, the first signal was one of taboo, the second was temptation, the third was expulsion,” Ms. Hong says. “What’s the most significant signal of the present?” The performance focuses on the hands, while including body movements.
Tatmaroo was formed in 1979 by Choi Cheong-ja and graduates of Sejong University. While they debut at least one new piece in an annual major performance, they also host various programs throughout the year, and take part in international festivals.
“From the beginning, we wanted to articulate fine arts with Korean emotion,” Ms. Hong says.

by Joe Yong-hee

For more information, visit the Web site at
perform.kcaf.or.kr/maru/default.asp. Tickets are 20,000 won ($17) for adults, 12,000 won for kids.
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