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A Festival of Korean Dance 2022

The Festival of Korean Dance is back. The programme is pretty much what we were going to see in the 2020 festival, which of course got cancelled. I’m glad we haven’t missed out, and I’m really looking forward to this. So, here’s the official press release.

A Festival of Korean Dance returns to The Place for a fifth year

  • A dynamic all-female line-up of four leading contemporary choreographers across three evenings
  • Jinyeob Cha, the choreographer of the 2018 Winter Olympics ceremonies, returns to London with a World Premiere following her sell-out show in the inaugural festival
  • A piano is dismantled live on stage by Art Project Bora which returns with a piece inspired by the legacy of iconic composer Isang Yun
  • Soo Hyun Hwang and Yun Jung Lee make UK debuts in a double bill that plays on the senses

17 – 25 June 2022, The Place

“This is the first UK festival of Korean dance. Let’s hope it’s the first of many.” score-2score-2score-2score-2score-0 The Observer (2018)

six dancers on stage
Collective A / Jinyeob Cha: Body to Body. Photo credit Kim Wolf

Returning to The Place for a fifth year, A Festival of Korean Dance showcases a programme comprising four women choreographers at the cutting edge of Korean dance culture. Having built a following among audiences and critics, the festival features returning artists Jinyeob Cha and Bora Kim as well as UK  debuts from Soo Hyun Hwang and Yun Jung Lee. Following its postponement from 2020, the much-awaited programme will explore the senses, from visions and perceptions of beauty, to blindfolded dancers using rhythm alone to navigate, to synesthesia.

Leading this year’s line-up, Bora Kim’s Art Project Bora returns in an outstanding collaboration Jaeduk Kim (Modern Table) to present MUAK, an innovative performance which draws on the condition of synesthesia and the legacy of iconic Korean composer Isang Yun, while dancers dis-assemble a piano live on stage.

Returning to the topic of the relationship between sound and movement, a double bill of artists new to the UK seeks to break down the boundary between performer and audience. Yun Jung Lee / Dance Project PPoKKi will present Tongue Gymnastics and Soo Hyun Hwang presents Sense of Darkness. In Sense of Darkness, blindfolded dancers move to rhythms supplied by their co-performers, using the sounds they make as cues to inform their gestures, while the boundaries between audience and performer are subverted. Tongue Gymnastics dissolves social norms or customs that relate to the tongue, and explores the physical mechanism of the tongue as a choreographic technique.

Completing the festival, Jinyeob Cha’s Collective A presents MIIN: Body to Body. A project that began as an outdoor performance in Seoul, it will now have its World Premiere as an indoor theatre presentation during the festival. Jinyeob Cha’s sell-out show Riverrun provided the iconic images from first Festival of Korean Dance in 2018. This was not long after she had choreographed the ceremonies for the Winter Olympics and her return to London is eagerly awaited. MIIN: Body to Body see her examine how perceptions of beauty and femininity have evolved beyond our conceptions.

In addition to the programme of performance, two online films will be made available to bookers for free. Bora Kim’s Trace of Time is a meditation on the body, space and time, and Kyungeun Lee’s BreAking expresses the philosophy ‘don’t fit me into the world, let the world fit into me’.

There will also be a pre-show seminar on Fri 17 June chaired by Nadine Patel, who will discuss the subject of gender politics in Korean contemporary dance from the perspective of a panel of female choreographers. There will also be post show talks with the artists.

Speaking about A Festival of Korean Dance, Artistic Director of The Place Eddie Nixon says, “This year’s festival features a line-up of four brilliant choreographers, demonstrating the considerable breadth and talent of dancemakers in Korea. We are delighted to welcome back Jinyeob Cha and Bora Kim, who are both renowned choreographers in Korea that have presented work in previous editions of the festival, and to introduce the work of Yun Jung Lee and Soo Hyun Hwang to UK audiences for the first time.”

Speaking about the festival, Jungwoo Lee, Director at the Korean Cultural Centre UK says, “We are delighted to be presenting four of the biggest talents working in Korean dance today, through their pieces we discover some of the different perspectives female choreographers are bringing to expression and movement, as well as their experiences as choreographers in the Korean contemporary dance scene. We hope that you enjoy this year’s festival as it promises to be our best yet!”

Speaking about the festival, President of the Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS) Young Ho Moon said, “We’re delighted to introduce the four female choreographers who represent Korea’s contemporary dance scene, with their outstanding artistry and global dance careers. With the excellent curation of The Place, UK, audiences can see things from different perspectives on the body and movement of each dance company. We hope that this festival will strengthen the cultural partnership between Korea and the UK as a successful platform.”

Speaking about her work, Jinyeob Cha says: “I believe the body is like a circle, endless, without a start or end, Saṃsāra (a Buddhist concept of endless birth, life, death and rebirth), the nature of the universe. Circle means endless changes and repeats, and it echoes the female body.”

Bora Kim says, “Isang Yun’s music has opened up the infinite possibilities for me to work without being tied to formality. The music is difficult to interpret but the more I listen to it, the more attracted I am by its powerful energy. I indulge in the illusion of seeing music and listening to dance.”

Yun Jung Lee says, “I believe contact improvisation is a good way to experience a sort of ‘in-betweenness’. In my work, a small unit of thematic movements transform through repetitive movements, and then those transformed movements expand to contact improvisation.”

Listings information

A Festival of Korean Dance
17 – 25 June 2022
The Place, 17 Duke’s Rd, London, WC1H 9PY
Tickets £17 (£12 Early Bird)
020 7121 1100 |

Fri 17 – Sat 18 Jun

Art Project Bora | MUAK 7.30pm
Seven performers burst the confines of logic as they dismiss the notion that we watch dance, and hear music, exclusively. Using physical force, they dismantle a piano creating a live soundtrack through their movements inviting the audience to see the sounds as a spectator and hear movement as a listener.

  • Post show discussion: Sat 18 June.
  • Pre-performance panel discussion on 17 June.

Tue 21 Jun

Double Bill: Soo Hyun Hwang / Yun Jung Lee | Sense of Darkness / Tongue Gymnastics 7.30pm
In Sense of Darkness, the performers close their eyes throughout the show to create a shared experience with their audience. Tongue Gymnastics explores the physical mechanism of the tongue as a choreographic technique, and experiments with the movement being transformed into a work of art. This process dissolves social norms or customs that relate to the tongue, while connecting to imagery arising from its materiality.

  • Post show discussion: Tue 21 June

Fri 24 – Sat 25 Jun

Jinyeob Cha’s Collective A | MIIN: Body To Body 7.30pm
Fusing precise choreography with a captivating soundscape, critically acclaimed choreographer Jinyeob Cha examines how perceptions of beauty and femininity have evolved beyond traditional and contemporary definitions.

  • Post show discussion: Fri 24 June

22 March – 2 July

Online dance film screenings: Trace of Time & BreAking

Book for any shows within A Festival of Korean Dance 2022 and get access to two short dance films by acclaimed Korean choreographers; Bora Kim and Kyungeun Lee.

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