September 26, 2018

Fringe Review: JSAC Presents: A Lot of Seoul

A lot of Seoul comprises several different dancers working in unique styles showcasing their short choreographed pieces one after the other. For that reason, the show was disjointed and lacked the flow really needed in a dance performance. The first dancer had a delicate and calculated style, using tense, slow and considered movements to entrance the audience. She had a magical quality and kept our attention on each one of her carefully placed muscle movements. It was an expressive but unfortunately not perfect performance and some of the choreography was repetitive. She held her intensity well, communicating pain and using the visual poetry of dance to do so but her execution could have been better.

The second piece was performed by two male dancers and was experimental to the point that no actual dancing took place for the first 10 minutes. To begin, a pretentious scene was set up which seemed to involve a young man being interviewed by some kind of computer over-lord. The acting skills present on stage were not good enough to pull off this kind of narrative. Once the dance began, there was some great choreography but nowhere near enough synchronization. In the rare moments of true harmony between the two dancers, the piece was very interesting and created a great atmosphere.

The next piece left me speechless, but not necessarily in a good way. Described as ‘hip-hop’, all I can assure you is that I’ve never seen hip-hop dancing like this before. A man and women dressed in traditional Korean outfits performed what can only be described as a coy seduction with unbelievably creepy smiles and stylised traditional Korean dancing. Culturally very interesting, the dance could have done with some heavy editing but revealed some very intriguing play with styles. When the movement became active and collaborative, the dance did come alive.

Although I found the overall performance quite enjoyable and fascinating from a cultural perspective, the dancing and choreography itself wasn’t anything to shout about. If you want a taste of modern Korean dancing, then give it a try but otherwise, expect to be creeped out and confused.

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