Casting a delicate spell: Dream Ritual

The Coronet Theatre, London
July 3, 2019

Maggie Foyer

Everything about the Coronet Theatre hints at the unreal: the oddly sloping floors, the labyrinthine passages and the stage, still haunted by props from long past productions. This is the theatre to inspire your dreams so what better setting for Dream Ritual conceived and directed by Bongsu Park and choreography and performed by Jinyeob Cha?

The highly polished black surface surrounded by organza curtains shaded in jewel colours creates an island of beauty and the front gauze provides a screen, allowing video art and dance to fully integrate. Cha’s sleeping face is projected on the front cloth while she stands on stage her arms weaving graceful patterns drawing us into the world of the subconscious.

The Korean ritual of selling dreams is explained in the programme notes and the story of a dream sold and treasured, scrolls up during the dance. Cha had encouraged audience members to join in and share their dreams. The dreams that were shared and scrolled up touched on childhood, family and particularly the rooms we return to obsessively in our dream state.

The dance is non-narrative interpreted rather through shapes and movement. Cha is a skilled performer and beautiful to watch as clad in embroidered silks she rotates amid a cascade of letters. Like a giant kaleidoscope, her mirrored body filmed from above creates mythical shapes that switch with clockwork precision and constant innovation.

The sound design by haihm is so embedded you are often hardly aware of its contribution, but the ethereal linear sounds are perfectly matched to this strange world. Although nightmares find no place in the written narratives, the sounds briefly bring a stronger energy but soon return to a space of warm lighting and rhythmic sound as Cha walks mesmerizingly on the spot. It’s a delicate work, ephemeral but leaving a lingering spell.

In the adjoining studio space, a video exhibition of the artwork of Bongsu Park plays on a loop. Some of the images of the dance appear in other guises as she continues to explore dreams and myths. However, it’s on stage where the combination of arts fully works its magic.