Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seoul transforms into center stage for dance

A cinematic performance from Cuba, “Malson” by DanzAbierta, will open the 13th Seoul International Dance Festival (SIDance), Thursday at Seoul Arts Center. /Courtesy of SIDance

By Lee Hyo-won

The temperature may have suddenly dropped but the heat is expected to turn up a notch as Seoul becomes center stage for the pulsating movements of the human body.

Fall in love with dance this autumn through a couple of month-long dance festivals that celebrate beauty and life through visceral poeticism.

Around the world in Seoul

The 13th edition of the Seoul International Dance Festival (SIDance) kicks off Thursday through Oct. 30 in various parts of the city. Presented by the Seoul section of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO, this year’s event invites 58 dance troupes from 20 countries to present 63 exciting projects.

Major theaters around the city will host most of the colorful programs but a lineup of street performances invites everyone to explore the beauty of dance. From Oct. 6 to 20, dancers from France, Italy, Spain and Macedonia will perform outdoors on Cheoljae Street, Mullae-dong 3-ga; in front of Horim Art Center near Dosan Park, Sinsa-dong; and at Hangang Park, Yeouido. 

“Everyone is an artist. The 13th SIDance 2010 proudly presents itself as the evangelist of promoting dance in our life. We don’t ask people to come to us; we reach out to them and create a sense of unity through our multiple stages,” said Lee Jong-ho, president of CID-UNESCO Seoul.

A cinematic performance from Cuba, “Malson” by DanzAbierta, will open the festival Thursday at Seoul Arts Center. Seoulites will also be able to enjoy a taste of Spanish dance, from traditional flamenco by Joaquin Grilo, the former choreographer of the National Ballet of Spain, to modern works by Israel Galvan. The showcase comes in time for the 60th anniversary of Korea-Spain diplomatic ties and completes a two-way cultural exchange that began with a Spanish tour by Korean dance companies. 

SIDance will be more than just a festival for staging works but also academic discourse. A series of seminars will also be held by Natalia Medina, the artistic director of Masdanza, Spain’s foremost modern dance festival. Opinion leaders including journalists and famed critics from Australia, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Thailand and the United Kingdom will participate in intense discussions about “Asian-ness” in dance.

Also not to miss is a rare chance to explore contemporary dance from the Arab world. Omar Rajeh, founder of the Beirut International Platform of Dance and Maqamat Theatre Dance, will provide a window into the dance scene of Lebanon and the Arab region. To learn more, visit

Korean dance in memoriam

Not to be eclipsed by SIDance is the Seoul Dance Festival, which invites fans to discover the past, present and future of the Korean dance scene.

The 31st edition of the event kicked off Wednesday at Arko Arts Center, Daehangno to present 42 dancers/dance troupes through Oct. 19. Among them, eight teams will participate in the much coveted competition while six others will perform in the free-style, out-of-competition section.

This year’s event has invited six past winners to show the development and transformation of contemporary dance in the country.
“This year fans will be able to see the history of Korean modern dance at a glance. I participated myself in the festival in 1972, and though I never got to win, it was always exciting to present my work before an audience,” said Kim Bock-hee, president of the event’s host the Dance Association of Korea.

“Many people think that dance is esoteric, but expressing oneself with body movements is almost instinctive. I think it’s a matter of exposure and becoming acquainted with it, and we would like to invite everyone to come and watch the performances.”
In the non-competitive section, “One the Sound” by the Hwang Soo-hyun Project Group presents various noises and how the body reacts to them. The lighting and stage will also change to suit the physical expression of sound.

In the competition section, fans will be able to view various thematic works such as Sunheon Dance Company’s “Blue Water, Deep Into Blue Sky,” which is set in 2333 B.C. ancient Korea or Han Dong-yub Dance Company’s “White Blood Rain Flowers” which is inspired by Buddhist elements from the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-935 A.D.). 

Others express pure human emotions: Spring Dance Theater’s “Dreams of Water” depicts the fluidity of life’s pain, happiness, beauty and desires through various props while Kim Kwang-bum Ballet Company’s “Taraksa” explores the human propensity for flight, freedom and love with the use of colorful costumes and atmospheric lighting. To learn more, visit

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