Local hoofers open int’l dance festContinuing its thirst for new challenges, this year’s International Modern Dance Festival will kick off with collaborative pieces by local choreographers and festival organizers.
Award-winning choreographer Hwang Mi-suk will stage “Yellow Snail,” a performance that depicts bias and prejudice in society from the view of a snail.
The other opener, “The Freedom of the Will,” choreographed by dancer-cum-model Lee Yong-woo, is an experimental work that explores human weakness when faced with external threats.
Since the festival began in 1982, overseas dance troupes were usually invited to present the first performances.
But this year the organizers received applications from local choreographers and wanted to give them the opportunity to play a more prominent role in contemporary creative arts here.
“The history of modern dance in Korea is relatively short, going back to just 1945 when Korea became independent from Japan,” said Lee Sook-jae, a director of the Contemporary Dance Association and a professor of dance and performing arts at Hanyang University.
“Dancers and organizers want to let more people know about the beauty of contemporary dance. But more work is needed as some Koreans still tend to associate modern dance with ballet,” Lee said.
Hahn Sun-suk, the artistic director of the festival, said at a press briefing last Friday organizers hope that the festival will reach out to a broad spectrum of audiences.
“We hope the festival will develop into everyone’s event where the performers and the audience have fun, interact, feeling and breathing together,” Hahn said, who is also president of Korea’s Contemporary Dance Association.
Overseas groups from the United States, Belgium and France, to name a few, will offer shows that reflect the latest trends in international modern dance, organizers said.
“Barcelona in 48 Hours,” choreographed and performed by veteran dancer, improviser and instructor David Zambrano, will take the audience on a poetic journey through explosive dance, jazz, video projections and giant photographs. The collaborative show premiered in New York in February 2004.
Audiences can also experience the work of Belgian artist, stage director, choreographer and designer Jan Fabre. In 2006, he chose the Korean-born dancer Her Sung-im as the lead in his show “When a Leading Man Turns Out to be a Woman.”
Eight local performances will be staged. They include “Middle Place” by Oh! My Life Movement Theater, “Waiting Room II” by The Body and “Tongue” by Kim Hyeong-nam Dance Theater.
A collaborative work by Korean choreographer An Eun-mi and her Swiss counterparts Katarzyna Gdaniec and Marco Cantalupo will blend traditional dance and more contemporary moves.
“Modern dance breaks all kinds of stereotypes. You just have to express everything you feel and everything that’s on your mind simply through your body,” Lee said.
“You don’t have to be thin or tall or beautiful. There are no standards. You can challenge all forms. You just have to express the essence of man with your body and will,” she said.
The International Modern Dance Festival will run from May 27 to June 7 at the Arko Arts Theater, Dongrang Arts Center and Mary Hall at Sogang University.
Tickets cost between 20,000 won ($20) and 70,000 won. For details, visit www.modafe.org or call (02) 765-5352.
The opening show will take center stage at 8 p.m. at the Arko Arts Theater in Seoul on May 27.