A Festival of Korean Dance, The Place, London

Reviewer: Miriam Sallon

Choreographers: Hyuk Kwon and Jaeyoung Lee

Describing themselves as more of a collective than a company, ‘SIGA’ consists of three choreographers and six dancers, working together to create intensely visceral pieces. Tonight’s double bill presents two dances, Equilibrium and Zero, nearly entirely different in flavour and affect.

The first, Equilibrium consists of two dancers, Hyuk Kwon and Jaeyoung Lee. There are two sections to this performance, splicing between each other. The first is a gentle rivalry, friends measuring each other up, pushing gently off one another, with no accompanying music. And the second a kind of aggressive collaboration, moving in tandem like the inside of a complicated machine, to a loud pounding hip-hop beat, growing in tension until sudden silence and a return to the quiet playfulness of the first sequence. The programme notes describe this as an expression of life, the balance between chaos and calm, “erratic physicality and intense moments of stillness.” But it feels more like a fight between man and machine, between organic playfulness and mechanical efficiency. The intended erraticism comes across as far too organised to be as such, near perfect tessellation in movement. It’s effective nonetheless, but perhaps not quite in its intended manner.

The second performance, Zero, is an attempt to push the physical form to its very limits. One dancer appears, again to an incessant thudding beat, his back to the audience, jumping and vigorously swinging his arms back and forth to the rhythm. He continues to do this same movement for a few minutes before he’s slowly joined by another five dancers, each mimicking the same movement, backs to the audience. The only thing that changes for the first few minutes is the formation of the dancers, but the movement is the same, jumping and swinging arms. The audience vacillates between hypnosis and a slightly distracting sympathy for the poor dancers who, if they weren’t super human, would be exhausted after the first couple of minutes. But super human they must be because this goes on for half an hour. Eventually other aspects of choreography are introduced, all just as physically trying, all to the same pounding rhythm. But it always returns to this same arm-swinging movement.

It’s a little trying for the audience too. How long can they watch the same thing over and over again? But this seems in keeping with the intention, pushing everyone to their limit. There’s a brief pause at around twenty-five minutes and someone in the audience can’t help releasing a loud ‘phew!’ But the silence is only momentary, and the dancers are back to their jumping and swinging again, still with the same vigour. There’s a feeling of hysteria; this is never going to end!

It’s wildly affective, and an absolute feat of endurance for the dancers. The lighting, designed to look as though the space is infinite, is perfectly fitting with the concerning feeling that this performance is indeed infinite, that the audience will sit here for hours, days, weeks, and watch these herculean performers forever.

For one company to come up with two such different performances is quite amazing. It’s no surprise they’re already sold out for their second and final performance, but if the audience’s enthusiasm is anything to go by, they’ll be sure to make a return soon.

Runs until 24 September 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Invigorating, exciting

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button