News & Blogs

24 May 2019
Author: The Place

A Festival of Korean Dance: Let’s become ‘Spectator Travelers’

The second edition of A Festival of Korean Dance is coming to The Place next week offering us a sneak peak of Korea’s contemporary dance scene alongside a movement journey full of cultural baggage and tradition – and we are all invited to visit Korea’s legacy, step by step.


One of the most challenging issues of our century is managing cultural differences in a pluralistic society, as individuals or as part of communities. The British anthropologist Mary Douglas was one of the authors who reinforced this idea of a human body living in the present, but at the same time strongly connected to the past, creating a concept of “body as an image of society and that rituals concerning the body’s boundaries correspond to the notions of political, social and cultural”.

All those multiculturalist voices can be translated into movement. Overtime gestures become part of a culture’s identity, defining a wide range of ‘culturally specific’ dance styles across the globe. In between, we acknowledge Contemporary Dance and its ability to invent endless possibilities when combining the traditional with both plural and individual movements. Choreographers such as Akram Khan are dedicating their careers to understanding how cultural heritage and contemporary creation can meet on stage and define an exclusive identity. As spectators, we find ourselves part of an exciting journey through time and space, crossing oceans and centuries without leaving our seats. But how do we perceive those new lands that we have suddenly walked into?

The second edition of A Festival of Korean Dance travels into Korea’s newest dance scene, promoting an exchange between contemporary practices while including a broad vocabulary of ancestral references. During the first half of the 20th Century, Choi Seung-hee was pioneer in develop Korean New Traditional Dance, even while facing a colonialist influence from Japan. Seung was inspired by traditional Korean dance and its meaningful gestures dating back to the shaman culture. Meanwhile, she was collaborating with western modern artists, such as Pablo Picasso, who supported her process of exploring freedom of movement without excluding Korea’s DNA.

The search for a Korean contemporary dance identity continues in modern time with companies like Goblin Party or Art Project BORA (part of A Festival of Korea Dance) that use a chronology of movements and concepts that address current issues within Korean society - that we can easily recognise as ours too. Subjects like technology, feminism, self-awareness or even globalization are often performed by Korean contemporary artists in a constant process of memory and experimentation. 

Modern Table Dance Company, this edition’s headliners, is inspired by a traditional musical instrument to create an atmosphere of velocity with the will of taking a step forward: to break any existing barrier between audience and the stage, art forms, genres and, who knows, cultural interpretations, by connecting a vision of the past with the present in a non-static and energic movement.

Multicultural artists nowadays have the capacity of telling their stories (or our stories) in multiple versions based on their own heritage and social environment. As members of the audience, we can celebrate this diversity and identify a variety of layers within a body. To be a ‘spectator traveler’ is to transform the way we interact with different cultures and find out how to shape a movement without losing its sense of belonging. It is to find within ourselves a space for common ground and whole new ways of movement, communicated through the language we all are able to share: dance.


A Festival of Korean Dance 2019 

FRI 31 May - Modern Table Dance Company, Sok-Do (Velocity)

TUE 4 June - (Double Bill) Art Project BORA, Somoo / A Long Talk To Oneself

FRI 7June - (Triple Bill) Choi X Kang Project, Complement / Goblin Party, Once Upon a Time / Noname Sosu, SILENTIUM


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