The Place Korean Season: Company SIGA

The Place, London
September 24, 2021

If you think you’ve seen it all, think again. As part of A Festival of Korean Dance, Company SIGA offered a double bill of works startlingly new, meticulously structured and gave performances that were exhausting, amazing and entertaining.

Zero, choreographed by Kwon Hyuk is a masterwork on repetition. It is predominantly just one step: a heavy soundless jump, accented down and barely leaving the floor. The arms swing energetically round the body pumping a rhythmic drive. Although this is a test of stamina, the warmth of the drum beat, the laid-back pulse and the view only of muscular backs, gives a soporific overtone.

The six dancers join in one by one through a haze on the empty stage, the lights catching the figures as they hop downstage. Through the thirty-minute work the patterns shift constantly but the shift is subtle and almost imperceptible. Later there are variations, very brief pauses then in triplets standing in a vertical line they rock, their arms imitating a metronome beat before stepping sideways to copy Newton’s Cradle. In the final section they move powerfully using floor and full-on rhythmic swings but still never letting us see them full face, for that we had to wait for the bows.

The simplicity and artistry in structure and design, as well as the accuracy and skill in performance, made this a performance to remember and to treasure. Congratulations to the choreographer and dancers: Kim Soyeon, Kim Heajin, Byeon Hyelim, An Jihyeong, Yang Jinyoung and Im Heejong.

Company SIGA’s Equilibrium by Lee Jaeyoung
Photo Ikin Yum Photography

Equilibrium was the perfect foil. Performed by Kwon Hyuk with choreographer Lee Jaeyoung, it is a witty work of physical comedy. First playing with the body as a machine of joints and levels that fold, collapse and support. The dancers take the exact measure of the form and play one against the other. The movement then becomes sequential, as one gesture initiates another and the impetus flows from one body to the next. The shapes and gestures that arise are interesting originals as movement and music climax before sudden silence as the dancers collapse.

In silence the two bodies balance and counterbalance with humorous interplay on the differentials in body size. The music (by bluechan) resumes but now more intense and the battle of wits continues until as enemies they exit on either side of the stage only to return and join hands as friends. I hope Company SIGA continue to visit us.