Four recent performances at The Place, near Euston, highlight the variety of talent in Korean contemporary dancers and choreographers. In November 2010, Jeon Mi-sook and the Laboratory Dance Project toured Europe as part of the Kore-A-moves tour – which visited venues in Germany, Estonia, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, The Netherlands and Ireland as well as the UK. This tour comprised four separate programmes, but only Germany got to see all four, with the dance companies dividing up in order to cover so much ground in the course of a month.
The November evening contained three contrasting works. The first, choreographed and performed by Jeon Mi-sook was entitled Will You Promise, to music by Steve Reich, seemed to be all about yearning and striving: the dancer constantly struggled to make her way to the top corner of a sloping square, only to roll down again, while being harassed by male dancers who flitted like spiders across the area of vision.
The second work, Modern Feeling, was choreographed by Lee In-soo and performed by him with Ryu Jin-wook, to a selection of music including some by Portishead. Combining acrobatic moves with hip-hop, the duet was tender and moving as well as having unmistakably homoerotic overtones.
Laboratory Dance Project’s signature work is No Comment, by Shin Chang-ho – a founding member of the company. Full of energy and drive, it is a rousing way to finish the programme.
January brought dance of a completely different sort. Choreographer and dancer Song Yun-kyung has formed a company of senior performers, none of whom are under 50 years of age. Something of the energy of No Comment was not to be expected, but nevertheless the work finished with a lively calypso. More than anything, the work seemed to be a meditation on how reality never lives up to one’s hopes and dreams.