Work by Choi X Kang Project, Noname Sosu and Goblin Party – presented in a triple bill as part of The Place’s annual Festival of Korean Dance – demonstrates how sublimely varied and intriguing contemporary dance can be. I found the evening’s eclectic mix of concepts and approaches to choreography to be completely mesmerising.
Concluding their 2019 Festival of Korean Dance with work by three pioneering contemporary dance companies, The Place’s triple bill comprises pieces by Choi X Kang Project (Complement), Noname Sosu/Young-Hyun Choi (SILENTIUM) and Goblin Party (One Upon A Time). Two – Complement and Once Upon A Time – utilise all kinds of smart choreographic techniques to each stand as spectacles of fun and agility. Their tone distinctly contrasts that of SILENTIUM, which, with its own effects, is one of the most intense experiences of grotesque form imaginable in dance. And it’s completely mesmerising.
SILENTIUM‘s combination of sound, movement and innovative use of shadow all lend the piece an incredibly creepy vibe, and that’s before even taking into account the distorting effect created by the piece’s optical illusion. Out of the darkness, a single silvery torso of impossible proportions appears and while fixed to one spot, uses arm and body undulating movements that play with the light and dark. It drew me in in an instant as I tried to work out if I what I was seeing was a projection or a real person – but the piece asks for patience as Noname Sosu’s pace is deliberately slow and intense. In the end it becomes clear that the dancers Young-hyun Choi and Eun-bi Yoo performed the whole thing live – and knowing that makes it all the more impressive.
Choi X Kang Project also exhibit a hugely intriguing concept in Complement – namely having the dancers filmed on stage by static and hand-held cameras, before then re-performing phrases with variations whilst footage from the different cameras of the previous sequence plays in the background. Layers are built up in this way, creating new perspectives and an ever-increasing level of intricacy. The choreography – itself largely staccato movements to a clock-like beat with lots of playful and humorous ideas included – interacts with the previous and subsequent layers of footage and it’s clear how remarkably well thought-out and tightly rehearsed the piece is.
Goblin Party offer up a third and final eat of creativity in Once Upon A Time, which presents a contemporary dance on a theme of tradition. There are again unexpected moments of comedy, but the way the performers Kyung Min Li, Jin-ho Lim and Kyung-gu Lee transform decorated fans into a ballet dancer, butterfly, parasol and more was amazing to watch. The trio dance in faultless synchronisation – an excellent conclusion to the fascinating and highly-accomplished dances showcased in this Festival of Korean Dance triple-bill.