LDP Headlines ‘Korea Week’ at Jacob’s Pillow

LDP/Laboratory Dance Project in 'Are You Happy to See Me?' (photo Youngmo Choi)

LDP/Laboratory Dance Project in 'Are You Happy to See Me?' (photo Youngmo Choi)

(BECKET, Mass.) – South Korea’s award-winning contemporary company LDP/Laboratory Dance Project headlines Korea Week, a special program focusing on dance from Korea, at Jacob’s Pillow from Wednesday, July 27 to Sunday, July 31, 2001. Korea Week also includes a free performance by the Korean Traditional Music and Dance Institute on the Indoor/Outdoor stage on Thursday, July 28 at 6:15 pm, talks, q&a’s, rare, archival footage of Korean dance, and open rehearsals.

Founded in 2001, LDP has been making an international name for itself through a unique mix of contemporary dance, hip hop, improvisation, martial arts, and acrobatics, all blended with a keen visual style. In their Jacob’s Pillow debut, they perform three works by Korean contemporary choreographers, including their signature all-male dance No Comment.

LDP’s program will include Are you happy to see me? for six dancers, choreographed by Mi Sook Jeon. This contemporary work looks at social conventions and points to the lack of communication permeating modern society. A unique silver mylar set piece hangs from above as dancers transition from sharp, quicksilver gestural phrases and gripping, thrashing choreography to quieter intimate moments. Mi Sook Jeon is the Dean of the Dance Division at the Korea National University of Arts, and many of the members of LDP have trained with her. She is regarded as one of Korea’s leading contemporary choreographers, and has received numerous awards including Chang-Mu Choreography Award in 2002, the Grand Prize from Seoul Dance Festival in 2006, Best Performance Award in 2009 and Critic’s Special Award in Korea in 2009 and in 2010.

LDP/Laboratory Dance Project in 'No Comment' (photo Yong Hoon Han)

LDP/Laboratory Dance Project in 'No Comment' (photo Yong Hoon Han)

Modern Feeling, by street dancer-phenom-turned-choreographer In Soo Lee, uses contact improvisation and clever acting as a base for this duet that suggests friendship, conflict, and compromise between two men. Lee’s witty, physical choreography is filled with hip-hop, break dancing, martial arts, and acrobatic influences. The Oregonian comments, “the piece showcases the company’s dramatic skills: [performers Lee and Jinyook Ryu] are acting as much as they’re dancing… Something very male is going on here, play sliding into aggression and even anger, then back to play again.” Modern Feeling won the Grand Prix award at the Seoul International Choreographer Festival in 2008.

The program culminates with LDP’s unruly No Comment, choreographed by Chang Ho Shin in 2002. Seven male dancers prowl the stage with charged, unpredictable movement that combines contemporary dance with hip hop and martial arts; flips and somersaults abound. No Comment was inspired by the video-only, no-commentary news format that characterized the Iraqi War press coverage in Germany. Explosive, rhythmic music by the Serbian world-music composer Goran Bregovic and the London-based group Transglobal Underground drives the dance.

Chang Ho Shin is a founding member of Laboratory Dance Project; he graduated from the School of Dance, Korea National University of Arts and studied at the Laban Centre in London.  From 2005-2006 he performed with Switzerland’s Theater St. Gallen and has been LDP’s Artistic Director since his return to Korea in 2007. He received Best Choreography Award from 11th Critic’s Choice in 2008, the 16th Chang-Mu Dance Award and ‘Young Artist Award’ from Seoul Culture Today in 2010.

LDP/Laboratory Dance Project was founded in 2001 by graduates from the Korea National University of Arts’ Department of Dance in Seoul, the first dance conservatory in Korea and the first national university devoted to professional dance education with the support of the Korean government’s Ministry of Culture & Tourism. LDP works with acclaimed choreographers, both Korean and international.  Now a decade old, LDP has earned global recognition, becoming the first Korean dance company to be invited to perform at the Venice Biennale twice in a row.  In November 2010 it participated with other Korean dance companies in a major European tour Kore-a-Moves, performing in Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, Stockholm, London and Frankfurt, among other cities.

“LDP delivers something for anyone and everyone – powerhouse athleticism, imagination, humor, and irresistible youthful energy,” says Ella Baff, Jacob’s Pillow executive and artistic director. “It’s fresh contemporary dance, as super-charged as it is smart. The first time I saw this company, they had the entire audience on their feet by end of the show; I knew we had to bring them here to the Pillow.”

Korea Week begins Wednesday July 27, with Laboratory Dance Project opening their weeklong engagement in the Ted Shawn Theatre. Each performance is preceded by a Pre-Show Talk by Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Philip Szporer, which provides the audience with an introduction to the performance.  The printed program for the week includes a PillowNote, a commissioned essay giving further context to the artistic work.  Rare archival footage of Korean dance will be on display in the Archives Reading Room all week.

Korea Week continues with a free outdoor Inside/Out performance by the Korean Traditional Music and Dance Institute on Thursday, July 28 at 6:15 pm. The oldest established Korean performing arts organization in New York City, the institute brings a rich program featuring traditional costumes, drumming, and dance. After the performance, a Post-Show Talk with the artists just after they step offstage offers a question-and-answer session moderated by a Pillow Scholar-in-Residence.

In an exclusive Pillow Member Event on Friday, July 29, LDP will present an open rehearsal and discussion of their work, offering a behind-the-scenes look at their artistic process and how they prepare to perform their acrobatic and physically-charged movement.

On Saturday, July 30 at 4, the Pillow will host a free PillowTalk titled Korean Men Dancing, examining gender roles in dance. Company personnel will express their views and consider traditional and artistic norms for men and women in Korean and American societies.

Korean Dance at Jacob’s Pillow

Korean dance was presented at Jacob’s Pillow as early as 1951 at the height of the Korean conflict.  At the time, Pillow founder Ted Shawn wrote in the season program: “Korea has been for a full year now the focus of world attention – so it seemed fitting that we should present the finest artist-dancers who have come out of that tragic country – Taik-won Cho and Sun Young Kim.”  Excerpts from those performances were filmed and are accessible in the Archives.

Even earlier, American dancer La Meri included Korean dances in her repertory, and her many Pillow appearances from the 1940s through the 1970s indicate that she may have performed and taught some Korean works at Jacob’s Pillow. In recent years, Korean artists have performed as part of the Inside/Out outdoor performance series, including Mae-ja Kim (1984), Myung Soo Kim (1997), Eun Me Ahn Dance (2000), Sunhwa Chung/Ko-Ryo Dance Theater (2007 & 2009) and The Korean Traditional Music and Dance Institute of New York (2010 & 2011).




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