3rd Annual Korea Dance Waves Series: A Combination of Western Style with Traditional Eastern Values

Article By Kevin Young
Photo credit SINAE Arts Management

SINAE Arts Management held its 3rd annual performance of the Korea Dance Waves series, at the Manhattan Movement of Arts Center on Friday June 20th showcasing the talent of underrepresented contemporary dancers from South Korean dance companies. This niche genre is still relatively small in South Korea but with more publicity it can grow to become a phenomenal fad. I myself was just frankly impressed with the talent produced by these dance companies.

The first act, Silent War, by the Younpuluem Project Group, told the sorrow filled story of a woman struggling to retain her mental identity. She conflicts with her inner demons seemingly giving up by curling herself in a ball. Then rising to once again walk tirelessly zombielike to faint. She drastically falls repeating this ongoing cycle. She looks up at the sky once as if asking god for guidance. The sinuous movements combined with the heavy sighs and pants along with the music picking up pace makes you feel empathy for this poor woman. You’re on an emotion journey then diverges deeper into darkness until it all ends when the light fades away.

The second act, The Stranger, by Second Nature Dance Company, tells a far darker tale than the first. It starts off with eerie music synthesized with a mystifying woman walking towards the audience in a blind trance. Expressionless she takes a seat at the front of the stage with her back to the audience facing an unknown man in the distance who looks distressed. He starts to trudge towards center stage taunting the woman. His body then starts to randomly twitch and jerk in winding movements nearly falling over. Drenched in sweat and with his hair uncombed he starts to mumble gibberish. Simultaneously his body is communicating a plea for help that goes unheard, a mundane action mimicking panhandlers on the subway. He then angrily twitches his body all around again and again. The woman stands and joins him in a confused partnership twirling left and right nearly falling over. She later acts as his puppet master holding and controlling his movements with invisible strings. They are consumed by agony and fear begging for aid. They feel alone and hurt. The woman moans and cries as the man continues to beg. They repeat this cycle of falling and struggling to walk while incorporating different dance aesthetics. This marvelous piece ends with both laying on the ground hopeless and dead.

The third act, The Feast, by Tiffany Mills Company tells a modern day story of four Brooklyn natives dealing with everyday experiences. The alarming music combined with the wild sprints left to right makes you feel anxious and wondering what is going on. You then see them banging on a mirror as if they feel trapped inside a box. Two dancers a male and a woman explore each other and showcase their passion through movement. This is the type of meaningful and power choreography you would see on So You Think You Can Dance. Then unexpectedly diversity takes its course as the same male experiences the same type of passion and sensations with another male dancer. Themes of possession, disembodiment and grief are portrayed by these dancers on stage to create this masterpiece that leaves the audience pondering.

The final act, Airirang Blues, by The Body Dance Company, contextualizes the affection a couple has for one another. The two partners, male and female dance in perfect serene synchronization zoning out all of the noise and music. They really put their all into this 20 minute eye-opening act. This act was a marriage of east meets west combing traditional Korean dance movements with the modern day western contemporary. It makes you think about culture and how cultures can blend to create a new one entirely. This monumental piece really moved me making me wonder about my identity. It ended on a hopeful note that throughout the turmoil faced in life, creative expression will help you move forward.

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