Mr. Stravinsky, try some salsaThe ninth Seoul International Dance Festival, popularly known as SIDance, kicked off on Oct 10 and mesmerized loyal fans who have a treat in store over the next two weeks. Between this weekend and October 25th, 33 critically acclaimed dance pieces will be staged by 27 companies from 10 different countries.
SIDance was first created in 1998 by the Korea Chapter of CID-UNESCO (Conseil International de la Danse) the official umbrella organization for dance throughout all U.N. member nations. What started as a relative small event is now an important festival spread across Seoul’s five best-known venues: Seoul Arts Center, Hoam Art Hall, LIG Art Hall, National Theater of Korea and Theater Yong. For years, SIDance has strived to bring worldwide trends to the Korean dance scene and export Korean dances to the international stage. It also endeavors to broaden the currently small audience for dance in Korea, where the other performing arts, such as plays, concerts and musicals are considered more mainstream.
“SIDance tries to offer a comprehensive collection of dance in all forms, from traditional Korean dance to classical ballet, hip hop, and Flamenco,” said Son Aei-kyung, the general director of the CID-UNESCO Korea Chapter and head of the organizing committee for SIDance 2006.
For the night of Oct. 23 and 24 in the Hoam Art Hall, Emanuel Gat Dance, a troupe from Israel will perform an acclaimed work titled “The Rite of Spring,” derived from the ballet of the same name by Igor Stravinsky. Emanuel Gat, a prominent figure from Israel’s newest generation of choreographers, has created a beautifully voluptuous dance which combines the rythms of Stravinsky’s classical music with the steps of Latin American salsa. The result, which is full of dramatic elegance, proves that it is possible for classical music and salsa dance to co-exist and improve upon each other.
For the closing ceremony on Oct. 24 and 25 at Theater Yong, Compagnie Kafig from France presents Mourad Merzouki’s newest piece, “Terrain Vague,” in which circus performers, stage actors and hip hop dancers fly across the stage with all sorts of moves, from acrobatic and aerobic spins to break dancing. The piece has a fusion of Arabic music, Andalucian melody and Flamenco rhythm over a strong hip hop base that creates a performance of dazzling vitality.
Various ancilliary events will also take place during the 16 day festival. Question and answer sessions have been organized to follow the performances of six visiting artists, including Ohad Naharin, an Israeli choreographer and the artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company which has gained international stature in less than a decade since his appointment; Emanuel Gat; and Mourad Merzouki, a young iconic figure from the French hip hop dance scene.
For aspiring dancers, six choreography classes with the performers are scheduled to take place in Korean art schools and practice rooms around Seoul, and an SIDance forum with the venerable Mourad Merzouki will be offered to those who wish to explore hip-hop as a groundbreaking development in European contemporay dance.
The SIDance runs until Oct 25. For details, visit the SIDance’s official Web site at www.sidance.org (English available).
The artistic director and choreographer of “Tero Saarinen Company” returns to SIDance with “Petrushka,” ”Wavelengths,” and “Westward Ho!” after his sell-out performances in SIDance in 2005.
Tero Saarinen, 42, is one of Finland’s best-known and most successful dance artists. He has received numerous acknowledgements for his work, including the Pro Finlandia medal in 2005.
He began his career as a dancer at the Finnish National Ballet in 1985 and soon started to show his great potential as a soloist. From 1992 to 1993, in a quest to find new influences for contemporary dance, Saarinen went to Japan to learn Japanese traditional dance and Butoh. His big break came in 1996 when an agent suggested that he take his solo programs on tour in France, where there is a long tradition of support for innovative dance. In the same year, Saarinen founded his own group, which became the “Tero Saarinen Company.”
On the international scene, Finnish contemporary dance is something of a unique phenomenon. At the press conference held at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts earlier this week, Saarinen explained that the core of the Finnish dance is “clear visualization.” “The Finnish dance shows a strong visual point of view, and the dancers are very strong and individual. Saarinen’s style of dance has elements of classical ballet, martial arts and butoh dance that started in Japan, therefore, the style itself is very rich and particular,” he said.
His best-known work, “Petrushka,” was an opening performance of the SIDance 2006 earlier this week. It tells a folk tale of a puppet named Petrushka, who is made of straw and a bag of sawdust but comes to life to fall in love. Dancers disguised as puppets move awkwardly, expressing the torture of imprisoned emotions within the body of a puppet accompanied by the sweet sound of two accordionists on stage. Along with “Petrushka,” “Wavelengths” is highlighted by beautiful pas de deux and lighting effects.
At the conference, Saarinen expressed his enthusiasm for Korean dance and encouraged young performers to aim high. Saarinen says dance is his whole life and a way of living for him. “For me, it [dance] is the language I can talk best, and I think I have found something more profound and essential in the language of dance and movement than I have found anywhere else.”
Frescoes come to life
“La Melancolie des Profondeurs”
By Ckaude Brumachon and the Centre Choregraphique National de Nantes
* Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. at Towol Theater, Seoul Arts Center
* Tickets: R-70,000 won, S-50,000 won, A-30,000 won, B-20,000 won
Award winning choreographer Claude Brumachon of the Centre Chorgraphique National de Nantes brings the Renaissance era to life through an insightful investigation of 15th century paintings. The production is based on images from Michelangelo's frescoes with sacred music from 15th century French composer Josquin des Prez.
Female trio in flight
“Three Asian Female Dancers”
Led by Jean-Claude Gallotta, Sakiko Oshima and Long Yunna
* Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. at Towol Theater, Seoul Arts Center
* Tickets: R-40,000 won, S-30,000 won, A-20,000 won
Kim Heen-jin performs Jan-Claude Galotta’s l’Incessante, origiannly performed in 1999 ath the Festival d’Avignon. Naoko Shirakawa presents Sakiko Oshima’s new work. Long Yunna, winner of second place at the seventh Paris International Dance Competition dances her own choreogrpahy in a solo work.
From spring to winter
“The Rite of Spring,” “Winter Voyage” by Emanuel Gat Dance
* Oct. 23 - 24 at 8 p.m. at Hoam Art Hall
* Tickets: R-40,000, S-30,000, A-20,000 won
Choreographer Emanuel Gat presents his unique re-interpretation of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” in salsa-style with dancer’s reinterpreting the classic ballet to a Latin beat. Gat’s dancers will also perform “Winter Voyage” in which a stunning male duet rises to the challenge of dancing to Schubert’s complex classical songs. This is one of the showpiece events of the festival from one of the world’s most dynamic young choreographers.
Foot stomping mix
“Terrain Vague” by Compagnie Kafig
* Oct. 24 - 25 at 8 p.m. at Theater Yong
* Tickets: R-60,000, S-40,000, A-20,000 won
A funky mixture of hip hop, circus, and theater will be staged by the choreographer Mourad Merzouki The fusion of Arabian music, Andalucian melody, and Flamenco rhythm by As’N completes the heart-pounding scenes. Merzouki won the award for “Best Young Choreographer” at the International Dance Festival of Wolfsburg and uses this piece as an opportunity to integrate hip-hop into his choreography.
Blue with premieres
“Blue,” “Ocean” and “Tango for Ballet”
by Seoul Ballet Theater
* Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. at Hoam Art Hall
* Tickets: R-40,000 won, S-30,000 won, A-20,000 won
Seoul Ballet Theater stages two premieres along with its signature dance, “Blue.” Louise Kavouras, a member of the dance faculty at the University of Nevada, showcases his new piece on an oceanic theme. “Tango for Ballet,” choreographed by James Jeon is inspired by Astor Pizzolla’s Tango Ballet played by the Octeto Buenos Aires.
by Im Sun-young, Chough Eun-young