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ChangMu festival showcases contemporary within tradition

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Aug. 20, 2023 - 15:38

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"Here" choreographed by Kim Mae-ja (Changmu Art Center)

The ChangMu International Performing Arts Festival, led by choreographer-dancer Kim Mae-ja, is set to take place from Wednesday to Aug. 31 at various venues in Seoul, including the Arko Arts Center, Seoul Namsan Gugakdang and the National Jeongdong Theater.

Kim is the founder of the festival and a leading figure of changmu, a contemporary dance rooted in traditional Korean dance. Since 1993, the annual festival has been inviting dancers and dance groups from around the world who are committed to exploring innovation within tradition.

This year, in its 29th edition, a total of 22 works by Korean and overseas choreographers from China, Japan and Vietnam will take the stage for nine days under the theme of "The Light in the Coming Heaven."

On Wednesday, Kim’s dance trilogy “Here,” “Pneu’ma Light” and “Dance and its Dynamic Force” will be performed as part of Jeongdong Theater co-hosted series “A Midsummer Night’s Dance.” The pieces are inspired by the sunrise over the East Sea and the dance that basks in its light.

On Thursday, the opening concert “Glittering Glittering Variously” will be performed by haegeum player Kang Eun-il, gagok singer Kang Kwon-soon and Japanese drum player Shonosuke Okura.

Works from abroad include Vietnam's Arabesque Dance Company performing its choreographer Nguyen Tan Loc’s “Kliselamef (Female Silk)” on Aug. 24. Setsuko Yamada from Japan presents “Rhapsody” on Aug. 29, dancing to the music by Haruhiko Saga, who carries forward the legacy of Mongolian traditional music. On Aug. 30, China’s Tiantian Dance Company takes the stage with “Dragon Series,’ an innovative fusion of modern dance and puppet theater.

“Kliselamef” (Changmu Art Center) “Kliselamef” (Changmu Art Center)
“Being Layered in Layers” (Changmu Art Center) “Being Layered in Layers” (Changmu Art Center)

Three Korean choreographers from national dance troupes are also taking part in the festival.

Lee Young-cheol, a choreographer from the Korean National Ballet, will present his work “The Season; Spring” drawing inspiration from cherry blossoms on the road in spring. Kang Yo-chan from the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company offers “We Are,” delving into the existential questions of a performer. Kim Yong-chul from the Cheonan Dance Company will unveil "Welcoming Time," a dance piece that artfully unravels traditional rituals.

In addition, seven new works will be premiered through the Changmu Prize, which serves as a platform for emerging choreographers.

The Changmu Prize ceremony will take place Aug. 31, followed by a performance of last year’s winning piece, “Being Layered in Layers” by Han Sang-rul, bringing the festival to a close.

Details of the festival schedule are available on the festival's official website.