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New artistic director sets ambitious vision for KNCDC as Asia's contemoporary dance hub

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Sept. 12, 2023 - 17:26

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Kim Sung-yong, the artistic director of the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company, speaks during a press conference held at the Seoul Arts Center, on Monday. (KNCDC) Kim Sung-yong, the artistic director of the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company, speaks during a press conference held at the Seoul Arts Center, on Monday. (KNCDC)

Korea National Contemporary Dance Company's new director and artistic director Kim Sung-yong's ambition is to transform the dance company into a central contemporary dance hub in Asia.

"I've been looking for an opportunity to create synergy by bringing together dancers from Asia. I think it’s fitting for the KNCDC, Asia's only national organization, to take on this role," Kim said speaking at a press conference held at the Seoul Arts Center, on Monday.

Kim officially took his position on May 11 for a three-year term.

The state-run dance company's "Asia Project" (tentative title) is set to kick off in January next year, with 10 dancers from Asia, including 1-2 Korean dancers, selected through auditions. The project is set to premiere its work at the National Theater of Korea in June.

"The ultimate goal is to introduce these new works to North America and Europe (who have been leading the international contemporary dance scene)," Kim said.

Kim said several overseas dance companies have already approached him with proposals for collaboration since he took office. Kim has extensive international experience choreographing productions in France, Japan and the US.

“Due to the pandemic, many projects have been put on hold. I believe that the 'Asia Project’ could reopen the doors for more international cooperation,” Kim said.

The overarching objective is to create an environment in which the company's productions can be staged consistently, added to the repertoire and performed globally.

In addition, the company will launch regional projects to assist choreographers from different parts of the country with the production and showcasing of their work. In 2024, the company plans to collaborate with major theaters in Daegu, Busan and Gwangju. It also plans holding a festival in Sejong City.

“Currently, regional dance companies are working in such poor conditions that it's truly disheartening,” said Kim, stressing the importance of coexistence and emphasizing that Korea National Contemporary Dance Company should be a national, not just a Seoul-centric entity. Kim served as the artistic director of the Daegu City Dance Company for five years starting 2017.

Furthermore, a new creative platform for modern dance, tentatively named "Dance Ground," initiated by the previous artistic director, will open in Gangnam-gu in October. An educational program, "Dance School," will be expanded to cater to participants of various ages. “Dance Film Night," a regular screening event for dance films produced by KNCDC, will kick off with eight scheduled screenings starting in November.

Four new works and two projects are planned for during Kim’s tenure, starting with the co-opening work, "Jungle -- Sense and Response," which will be performed at the International Modern Dance Festival, MODAFE, in October.