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Traditional dance troupe goes experimental

Traditional dance troupe goes experimental

Three upcoming projects by the National Dance Company of Korea to feature Korean literature, rock music and a Biblical tale

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Published : 2014-01-02 19:42
Updated : 2014-01-02 19:42

“Lee Sang Syndrome” (The National Dance Company of Korea)

The National Dance Company of Korea is keeping up its efforts to reinvent its performances by making them more approachable and new.

Following last year’s “Scent of Ink,” its collaboration with celebrated fashion designer Jung Ku-ho, the troupe ― known for specializing in traditional Korean dance ― is showcasing three experimental projects this month.

“Scent of Ink” was a tasteful, modern interpretation of traditional dance, featuring the “four noble ones,” the four plants believed to epitomize Korea’s Confucian aesthetics: bamboo, the chrysanthemum, the plum blossom and the orchid. The dance piece was hugely complemented by Jung’s minimalist hanbok, a traditional Korean garment; for the show, he got rid of the hanbok’s coat-strings and designed much more voluminous skirts.

The upcoming projects, on the other hand, feature rock music and literature along with classical Korean dance, instead of fashion. The three pieces, titled “Lee Sang Syndrome,” “Femme Fatale” and “Application of the Basics,” were choreographed by and will be performed by the troupe’s dancers. 

“Femme Fatale”

“Femme Fatale,” choreographed by dancer Jang Hyun-soo, depicts the well-known Biblical story of Salome, the daughter of Herodias, who infamously asked for the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter as a reward for performing the Dance of the Seven Veils.

Jang’s choreography shows both traditional and contemporary dance movements. Her music selection is interesting. For the first half of the piece, Jang will be dancing to the live sounds of Bulsechul, an eight-member band specializing in classical Korean music. For the second half, Jang chose tunes by celebrated folk and rock singer Han Dae-soo.

Dancer Cho Jae-hyuk pays special attention to Yi Sang (1910-1937), who is considered to be one of the most imaginative writers in modern Korean literature, and interprets Yi’s works in “Lee Sang Syndrome.” Jambiani, a three-member rock band known for uniquely combining free jazz, heavy metal and post-rock by using traditional Korean instruments, including the haegeum and geomungo, provide music for the dance piece.

“Application of Basics”

Dancer Cho Yong-jin, on the other hand, is making his choreographic debut with “Application of the Basics.” In the piece, he seeks to present the “basics” of classical Korean dance, which has its own unique style and philosophy, as well as what sets it apart from other forms of dance such as ballet or contemporary.

“Femme Fatale” runs from Jan. 10 to 11, while “Lee Sang Syndrome” runs from Jan. 17 to 18. “Application of the Basics” will be on stage from Jan. 24 to 25. All the shows will take place at the KB Haneul Youth Theater in Seoul. Tickets are 30,000 won for any of the three performances. For more information, call (02) 2280-4114.

By Claire Lee (

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