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[Herald Review] ‘Caveae’ brings audience on stage in immersive, experimental danceBy Hwang Dong-hee
Published : April 10, 2023 - 19:56
To watch "Caveae," the latest production by the National Contemporary Dance Company, the audience had to enter the performance hall in an unusual way.
The audience lined up in designated sections and were guided onto the stage through a passage that, on any other day, would only be used by staff members.
On the dimly lit and slightly chilly stage, the dancers were already seated in the middle. The audience sat around in a seating area which was specially built for this performance, encircling the dancers.
Typically, audiences watch performances taking place on a rectangular stage. But behind the curtain, the stage was much higher, wider and deeper.
It was like entering a dark stadium or a cave, as suggested by the title “Caveae,” the Latin word for a dark empty space such as a hole or hollow. Everyone was looking around. Before the performance began, sounds of birds chirping could be heard from here and there, simulating the feeling of being inside a big cave.
The performance began with all the dancers screaming. They then slowly began to crawl and slide. They hummed and shouted throughout the 70-minute performance.
The audience could observe the dancers’ sounds and movements up close -- the sounds of their clothes sweeping the floor, brushing against each other and their bodies colliding.
The movements were slow and deliberate, but occasionally they picked up speed or came to a complete stop.
It felt like witnessing an ancient ritual or watching the slow movements of cells merging and dividing -- the workings of life itself.
In "Caveae," Hwang Soo-hyun, a dancer-turned-choreographer, broke away from convention and placed the audience on the same level as the dancers.
With some 200 audience members in attendance, the dance was an intimate and wholly immersive experience.
The production involved a total of 39 dancers and over 100 staff, making it one of the largest productions ever staged by the company. Its productions typically feature around 10 to 20 performers.
The show wrapped up its three-day run on Sunday at the Haeoreum Theater, the National Theater of Korea, in Seoul.
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