After seeing Yi Chuljin’s Seung Mu & Salpuri Dance. Michaelis Theatre, Roehampton University, 2nd Dec. 2009. By Paul O’Kane.
To see Yi is to be freed, from the chair in which one is sitting, becoming somewhat elevated, and thereby rescued, both from this moment and from whatsoever culture we reluctantly and temporarily inhabit.
In his strangely fixed gaze, peering into no-place on the slowly turning head of a robotic matriarch; and in his rigid parted lips – held open like a sundered stone through which no word ever passed; in his every muscle – tensioned with the grace of ritual, there concentrates degrees of distraction that carry us with him, out of this world.
Chuljin, under costumes simultaneously crisp and fluid, which extend his form into a luminous morphing, unfolds for us that precious and peculiar gift of dance, which is to beguile without recourse to narrative. Yi’s feet, clothed in pertinently pointed, white silk socks, echo the precise reticence hovering above in fixed pupil and stone grin. These are new extremities, of a body without hierarchy, radiating a consciousness transformed by every twist.
Our feet may take directions, from and to and with our eyes and tongues. Yet all mislead us through a life both endlessly varying and hopeful, only to collapse into discarded skins, graced by the memory of a certain soul. Nevertheless, some shamanic root here speaks to all in us that’s far-from human, as morose rotations of Chuljin’s throat map an out-of and unnatural time in which we find no mirror.
Though chilled, we yet renew our stare, joining the dancer in search of more elusive affinities, gambling on some reassurance promised by the fear.
To embody, not this world but worlds is perhaps the dancer’s role; to soak up reservoirs of spirit into a canal of life, making of the self a SIGN innocent of that to which it points. The shaman was never a genius, just one who unwraps gifts in us, who melts the frozen charm of other lives, by animating the theatre of our own form.