Sometimes, no matter how much I might be bowled over by a performance, I cannot put into words what I found so stunning about it. So it is with Yoo Sun-hoo’s work After 4: Over the Moon.
Part of the magic of the piece is the peaceful, poignant music that provides the accompaniment, performed live by the fusion group E-DO with composer / bassist JC Curve. The combination of styles and instrumentation more than keeps your attention for the full 50 minutes, even before the atmospheric choreography performed by Yoo Sun-hoo. Collectors of movie trivia may want to store away the fact that she had a cameo part doing a sword dance in Kim Han-min’s War of the Arrows (최종병기 활, 2011), but the choreography she designed for After 4 was as far from the energetic and martial as it is possible to get.
After 4 – Over the Moon is austere, stripped back, minimalist, from the music to the staging, but somehow the absence of superfluous visual and aural distractions adds to the emotional punch. Whether it’s the heart-wrenching and wholly Korean sounds of the traditional-style solo vocal, or the more international, gamelan-like sound of the steel rav drum that dominates another of the movements, somehow you are glued to your seat by the numinous quality of what you are seeing and hearing.
I can say no more other than this was undoubtedly the best thing I saw at the Fringe this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it tops my list of events of the year.
Below is a bit of text from the show’s press release that explains its scenario, and at the bottom are some links to more detailed reviews one or two of which seem to benefit from a quick chat with the choreographer.
After 4 – Over the Moon: the meaning of the 4 is the world after death. Korean professional choreographer Sun-Hoo creates a special collaboration with one beautiful dancer and four different musicians. She draws an eternal dreamy picture on stage. It is the first showcase piece in the 70th Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as the World premiere.
The story of After 4 – Over the Moon is a dream of an 80-year-old woman. In this journey of death, an 80-year-old woman is crossing over four rivers (Black river, Invisible river, Ash river and Soul river) and meets four envoys of death. In Korea, when people die, we say that they have crossed the river or crossed over the moon. After crossing all rivers, she can be reincarnated as a flower.
In the fifty minutes of physical dance and live music, the old lady’s movements evoke a shamanistic world and the spiritual atmosphere captured with music from E-DO, with instruments including electronic double bass to Korean traditional drum, flute, vocal and more.