Dancers from Korea, New Zealand pay moon tribute

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Dancers from Korea, New Zealand pay moon tribute


Members of the Atamira Dance Company and ChangMu Dance Company, New Zealand Ambassador to Korea Philip Turner, fifth from front right, and Kang Kyung-mi, policy adviser of the New Zealand Embassy, third from right, at the ambassador’s residence in central Seoul on Tuesday. [PARK SANG-MOON]

In a performance next month, male Maori dancers and female Korean dancers will show how the people of the two different lands have felt about the source of light in the night sky down through the ages.

“Marama,” which means moon in Maori, will be held at the Daehakro Arts Theater in Jongno District, central Seoul, at 4 p.m. on Sept. 2.

It is a collaboration between the Atamira Dance Company of New Zealand and the ChangMu Dance Company of Korea and part of the week-long ChangMu Performing Arts Festival from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2. The performance will be backed by live Maori traditional instruments and singers.

“We’re looking at four phases of the moon - the full moon, quarter, half and new moon - and each has a different image,” Moss Patterson, artistic director of the Atamira Dance Company, told the Korea JoongAng Daily on Tuesday. “Atamira and ChangMu got together to develop the movements together. In the end we want to help people think about the moon in a different way.”

“The Maori people see the moon as masculine and Koreans tend to see it as feminine,” said Choi Ji-yeon, choreographer and artistic director of the ChangMu Dance Company. “We came together with different ideas about expressing the moon through dance, but the collaboration has been amazing, and the results differ each time. The expressions and choreography change every time we work together even though it’s still on the same topic of the moon.”

The two groups started collaborating in 2015 when Kim Mae-ja, who founded ChangMu in 1976, invited Patterson to work together after seeing his work expressing the traditions and indigenous spirit of the Maoris.

“The members of the two dance troupes feel like one family now,” Kim said. “We will continue to work on bridging the two countries.”

ChangMu and Atamira members got together for a friendly lunch with the Kiwi ambassador to Korea at his residence on Tuesday. The luncheon began with Kai Karakia, a traditional song to bless the food, and ended with a fierce Haka, New Zealand’s traditional war cry and dance, performed by the visitors from the Aotearoa.

“The collaboration between Atamira and ChangMu is truly great to see,” said Philip Turner, New Zealand’s ambassador to Korea. “New Zealand and Korea have a great relationship in many areas including in defense, trade and people-to-people links but I’m really delighted that we can also celebrate the creative space.”

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