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Emerging choreographers to unveil new works at 'Next Step'By Hwang Dong-hee
Published : April 4, 2023 - 09:53
The third edition of the “Next Step” series of the National Dance Company of Korea, which aims to support emerging choreographers, is scheduled to unveil its final works in late April.
Three choreographers selected in October last year -- two from the NDCK and one from outside of the organization -- have since been developing their own dance choreographies through comprehensive workshops with mentors from various fields including stage design, costume design, choreography and performance critique.
The “Next Step” series was launched in 2018 to discover young choreographers and future programs for the NDCK. After running twice in 2018 and 2019 with NDCK dancers, the series opened its doors to outside choreographers for the third edition and received 11 submissions from choreographers who are not members of the NDCK.
“The meaning of ‘national’ as an organization should mean leading and cooperating with artists as a whole performing arts group, and not just limited to NDCK members. So this time we wanted to boost the competitiveness of and benefit the country's dance scene by opening the door to non-NDCK dancers,” said Sohn In-young, the artistic director of the NDCK.
For this year's themes, the series looked for something unique but which still holds a Korean traditional dance element while conveying a universal story, the artistic director added.
“The Beast” by Choi Ho-jong explores Korea’s familism with four dancers -- including Choi -- each representing a father, mother, son and daughter.
“The dance depicts four dancers gradually turning into beasts,” said Choi at a press conference held on Thursday.
Choi explained that the story started from his unpleasant experience of meeting a rude passenger on the street. The question, “Does that person have a family too? What if that kind of person were my family member?” led Choi to think about family and the ideology of familism in Korea. As the four dancers exchange variations of “family play,” the surrealist dance gradually becomes rougher and more intense over time.
“Last Dance” by Park So-young is inspired by her personal moment of having a panic attack on stage. The dance cheerfully unravels a sense of liberation while moments of life pass by in a flash before death.
“It is the story of a woman who decides to commit suicide -- how is she driven to that decision, whether she would actually choose death,” said Park. “I would like her to choose life again but then what would be the reasons? I wanted a story about finding a door to positivity and opportunities to escape from trauma.”
Jung Bo-kyung, the only non-NDCK choreographer selected for the series, presents “Echo.”
Jung debuted as a choreographer with "The House under the Cliff" in 2007, and won first prize in the performing arts competition at Spain's Bilbao Act Festival with “On the Road” in 2010. She is now CEO of her own dance production company.
“In the performance, migratory birds work as a metaphor. The morphological aspects of those birds leaving somewhere and returning came to me as an echo,” said Jung.
The stage will be filled with only the dancers and the lights to focus on the meaning of the coexistence of life and death, of the virtual and reality. The choreographer also reinterpreted the traditional court music of “Sujecheon,” which prays for eternal life, to highlight the theme.
One of the three performances will be selected and developed as a dance concept short film. It may also be expanded into a regular program for the company. For example, “Seven Beats,” choreographed by Lee Jae-hwa, selected as the outstanding work from the 2018 edition of “Next Step,” was expanded to a 70-minute full-length program.
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