Dance Review: Choe Contemporary Dance Company

The piece incorporated traces of ritualistic forms and martial arts, which supplied their unique flavor.

March 4, 2012 21:06
1 minute read.
Choe Contemporary Dance Company

Choe Contemporary Dance Company 390. (photo credit: Bong-Ju Park)

Choreographer Choe Sang-Cheul offers his creation Argument as a map filled with clues that enable us to decipher basic human interactions and channels of communication. More than arguments, it deals with encounters. The stage is a sleekly designed arena of a lacquered black center surrounded by a white rim, indicating a formal approach and high regard for estheticism.

A group of dancers enters, dressed in silvergray business suits, their gaze frozen, their manner regimented. Each couple acts out a quick, meticulously planned physical confrontation of an improvisational nature. First, they interact in a simple engagement, such as two people brushing shoulders unintentionally. Later, it gets more energetic. The encounters are performed in slow motion or with polite aggression, often ending in a freeze between each phrase. Actual body contact comes much later. I believe that Choe systematically covered almost all the possible options that come under the title “Argument.”

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The impressive, highly skilled cadre of nine dancers moved swiftly between the changing situations and didn’t waver, in spite of the energetic and technically demanding bits of fragmented scenes, maintaining perfect sync without getting a wrinkle in their suits.

During the performance they changed four outfits, all in shades of gray, each one looser and less formal than the previous ones, indicating a greater degree of personal freedom as if they needed to warm up and open up, which was quite intriguing.

However, it took Choe too long to set the thematic structure and cover all the angles. Finally, toward the end, through the Westernized contemporary veneer emerged shades of a different culture, another time and body perception, derivatives of indigenous cultural sources. The piece incorporated traces of ritualistic forms and martial arts, which supplied their unique flavor as a company.

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