Above: Lizzy Zevallos of Ko-Ryo Dance Theater
Saturday October 20, 2012 - Choreographer Sunhwa Chung and her Ko-Ryo Dance Theater celebrate their tenth anniversary season at Dance New Amsterdam with six works, live music...and lively dancing, most notably in the evening's final work, The City From The Sky: Coming Together.
In a doleful opening solo, Sunhwa Chung dances the story of a lonely gi-saeng (Korean geisha) awaiting her beloved's return: but he does not come. Dressed in traditional costume, Sunwha moved with slow pacing and expressive gestures.
We are then introduced to the Company dancers (some of whom you can see here) in Epilogue, which involves the constant claiming and re-arranging of chairs. The dancers sit, rise, rush about the space, busily gesticulating. As the movement becomes more athletic, they leap over the seats and pursue one another in a shifting game of musical chairs.
Ariring: We Go Beyond The Crossroad is a long quasi-narrative work about Sunhwa's journey to a new world. Her nine-year-old daugher Sarang wanders into the space, playing a wistful violin solo (quite an accomplished player, and sweetly connecting with the audience). Vongku Pak, a highly skilled Korean percussionist, then commences to play from the rear of the stage. The dance evolves over segments, the overall expression being of seeking or wonderment, often sinking into repose. A vivid duet for Juhwan Huang and Yuki Ishiguro erupts, and later Juhwan dances a duet with Alissa Wall.
Airirang tends to stretch out a bit: it seems to me that some skilfull editing would make it more meaningful. Yet a passage where the dancers move down a diagonal path of light was especially beautiful.
An excellent trio Inevitable Convergences: The Last Story set the second half of the evening off on a strong footing. Chairs are once again onstage, and the three fine dancers (Alissa Wall, Yuki Ishiguro and Benjamin Gaspard) are clad in suits and ties. Benjamin, a native Frenchman, charmingly tells us that we will see the story of "Alissa...Yuki...et moi." The source of their conflict remains a mystery, but the eerie music (by Stephen Warbeck) later gives way to more dangerous yet oddly triumphant themes. The physicality of the dancers and the lighting for the piece made it an outstanding highlight of the evening.
A long solo for Sunhwa Chung, dancing in a cerise evening dress and bejeweled stiletto pumps, is entitled No One Knows But You. The dancer moves about the space, always referring back to a standing mirror. The dance, which may be autobiographical, makes us wonder about the woman: who is she, why is she so smartly dressed, why is she alone? Perfectly executed, the solo was somewhat marred by the sound of music bleeding in from a neighboring studio space, defeating the long silences which give the piece its dramatic context.
The best came last: The City From The Sky: Coming Together starts off with the dancers marching across the stage to the theme from Mission: Impossible. (Rehearsal photo above by Kokyat). In this dynamic work, laced with moments of repose, the dancers excelled, with Yuki Ishiguro's break dance solo combining street savvy with poetry. Lizzy Zevallos and Hanna-Leena Olvera bring their vivid dramatic presence, Hye Jeong Son, Alissa Wall and Misei Daimaru a lovely lyrical energy. Juhwan Huang, long hair silky and gleaming under the lights, is the Company's tower of strength; at one point he and Yuki sent Benjamin Gaspard literally climbing up the wall. An especially memorable image found a quintet of dancers moving in an X of light projected on the floor. The work ends with a propulsive drumming theme: the dancers have been absorbed into the collective dynamic of life in The City.