An evening of energy from Korea National Contemporary Dance Company

The Place, London
April 28, 2023

It’s a treat to welcome KNCDC back to London. Their enthusiasm, energy and commitment inspire and delight, and this double bill is no exception.

Jaeyoung Lee’s propensity to exactitude is evident even before his work, Mechanism, opens. The perfect square of bright white dance mat has three neat chairs placed on each side awaiting the six dancers. It’s a slow start as the first man circles the stage to pause in the centre and stretch before embarking on a precise set of gestures. The second dancers joins and they repeat the sequence in unison. By the time all six dancers are involved the links are complex: involving not just arms, but legs and the full body in weight bearing moves.

The invention is brilliant, a gesture is transmitted to a second dancer who develops it further then sends it to down the line to correspond with the choreographed move coming from the other side. Each move must be exact for the sequences to work and the dancers are clockwork perfect.

KNCDC in Mechanism by Jaeyoung Lee
Photo Joel C Fildes

The mechanical beat, which backgrounds the choreography, now shifts to a lively up tempo rhythm and the dancers repeat the same moves, with the same precision but at high speed. The score from Bluechan, changes constantly, moving to a jazzy warmth then to a level of humour as the music builds and the lights find new energy in a fluorescent green stage.

The dancers circle like cogs in a wheel, then pull into unison while never losing a beat. The stamina of the dancers is phenomenal as the mood becomes fiercely intense and the pulse is now accented in small jumps. Finally, the dancers come to rest standing in a circle breathless on a darkening stage.

In Everything Falls Dramatic, Sung Im Her takes the body as her inspiration in an exploration of life and death. As it says on the jar: Everything Falls and she moulds this into the repetition of falling and recovering again and again. She works on the minutiae of a short movement sequence which is enriched by the process of repetition.

KNCDC in Everything Falls Dramatic by Sung Im Her
Photo Joel C Fildes

The choreographer opens the work herself, running freely round the space with the freshness and freedom of a child. She’s dressed in casual clothes with her hair loose and smiling brightly. The other dancers enter, also in casual dress, from front of house to lie on the stage. The movement, seemingly improvised, is shared within the group but with free interpretation and involving powerful arm gestures and a great deal of floor based work. The music from Husk Husk is a powerful driving force. The dynamics are strong as the dancers now throw themselves at the floor and the pulse has a sharp metallic ring like a flying bullet.

Building to a climax, a bank of lights trained on the audience glows fiercely as the dancers tirelessly maintain the pulse. Finally, and very slowly, they fall to the floor in a pile. A rain of red petals falls on the bodies continuing until small puddles of red find pockets amongst the limbs. It’s a profound and strangely moving work, performed with deep sincerity.

Read David Mead talking to Sung Im Her about Everything Falls Dramatic.