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Korea Season 'breaks' off in Paris with powerful dance performances

By Park Ga-young

Published : May 3, 2024 - 14:42

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1Million, a Seoul-based dance studio, performs at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on Thursday. (Culture Ministry) 1Million, a Seoul-based dance studio, performs at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on Thursday. (Culture Ministry)

PARIS -- In the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on Thursday, two dance groups joined forces for a performance to officially kick off Korea Season 2024, an annual program organized by the Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange.

Titled "Urban Pulse Uprising," South Korea's 1Million and the French Pockemon Crew showcased a performance encompassing various street dance genres, including K-pop, hip-hop and breakdancing for the audience that packed the 1,600-seat theater.

The performance also celebrated the inclusion of breaking, which originated in the US in the 1970s, in this summer's Paris Olympics program as a new sport.

“There is a technical part and also artistic part just like figure skating,” Lia Kim, a choreographer and co-founder of 1Million, told reporters on Thursday.

“Korean B-boys have been sweeping international competitions, so I have high expectations for Korea’s breaking team,” noted Back Koo-young, a choreographer and member of 1Million.

Riyad Fghani, the artistic director of Pockemon Crew, founded in the 1990s, said he predicts teams from South Korea, France and the US to be strong contenders for the finals.

Five Korean breaking competitors will face off in the Olympic Qualifier Series in May and June, aiming to secure a spot in the Olympics. From Aug. 9 to 10, Place de la Concorde in Paris will host the competition where 16 of the world's top B-boys and B-girls will vie for Olympic medals.

French dance team Pockemon Crew performs at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on Thursday. (Culture Ministry) French dance team Pockemon Crew performs at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on Thursday. (Culture Ministry)

Korea Season 2024

Korea Season aims to promote Korean culture globally, with a particular focus on Paris, the host city of the 2024 Olympics.

Korea Season 2024 takes place from May through October, with the participation of 17 Korean arts organizations, including the Association of Korea National Arts Companies, showcasing more than 30 events including performances and exhibitions.

From May 18 to 20, six performances featuring creative traditional Korean, classical and jazz music will be held at the Salle Gaveau in Paris. The performances begin with the project "tHinG," featuring gayageum player Heo Yoon-jeong, pianist Park Jonghwa and electronic music performer Gabriel Prokofiev. Following this, there will be opportunities to enjoy diverse Korean music in Paris, including a performance by soprano Park Hye-sang with the Paris Chamber Orchestra.

"Cheoyong," an original opera, will be performed by the Korea National Opera, Korean National Symphony Orchestra and National Chorus of Korea on June 9 at the National Theater of the Opera Comique. The National Contemporary Dance Company will perform "Jungle" on July 23 and 24 at Le 13eme Art.

Throughout the Paris Olympics, slated to take place from July 26 to Aug. 11, the Korea House will showcase cultural content along with a Korean-French youth exchange program, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

In collaboration with government agencies such as the Korea Tourism Organization and Korea Creative Content Agency, as well as various private enterprises, Korea House will present an array of cultural content, including Korean music, drama, film, beauty, tourism, literature, traditional culture and ballet.

"The 2024 Paris Olympics is a premier global sports and cultural festival. I am pleased that the ‘2024 Korea Season' will be part of the cultural Olympic programs in the cultural city of Paris," Culture Minister Yu In-chon said.

"From performances and exhibitions by Korea's finest national art organizations to world-class performances by orchestras of individuals with developmental disabilities, we have prepared programs to ensure that all athletes and tourists visiting France can encounter and experience the diverse culture and arts of Korea."

French dance team Pockemon Crew and Korean dance studio 1Million greet the audience at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on Thursday. (Culture Ministry) French dance team Pockemon Crew and Korean dance studio 1Million greet the audience at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on Thursday. (Culture Ministry)