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.
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
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.
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
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.