Ambiguous Dance

Ambiguous Dance
SF International Arts Festival 2018
Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center
May 31, 2018. 8 PM

“Rhythm of Motion

Ambiguous Dance from South Korea introduces itself with the following blurb: “Rhythm of Motion expresses the modern Korean man who represents the individual that seeks his own rhythm within society. Dance transforms simple movements into expressions of life’s rhythm. Dancing is not only for dancers; we all live as though dancing.”

Theirs is, however, a very special style of dance, somehow employing the actions of highly stylized gymnastics, exaggerated mime, mugging, crotch holding and mock fighting … all in unexpected sequences. As we progress through the several sections of their performance, the group members go from wearing colorful, though short, tight trunks to full dress suits. In the early sections, done in silence, each has his own movement vocabulary. In the later sections, (to unnamed classical music [Beethoven?] the movement is always on the beat, the attack staccato, the lines as right angles. In the course of the performances, has each lost his individual dance?

This reviewer much preferred the opening four (or five?) sections during which the movement material was repeated with dissimilar tempi and variation in groupings. The first dancer tumbles in and lands with his fingers pointed to stage left in the stereotypic shooting gun position. Another dancer enters downstage right, stands on his hands, then sits on his haunches and holds his hands in front of his face as if weeping. Eventually five ‘dancers’ occupy the stage. They interact with various ‘male’ pugilistic gestures (some more aggressive than others) and retreat.

It all begins again, same structure, faster, more variation in attacks, finally some variation in choreography. All members of their group are remarkably skilled and effective in their roles. Crotch holding as a group motif continues until all are in business suits.

Then the lead dancer starts the process all over again as a finale. All in all, their work is unusual, attention getting and effective, even charming. The musical selection at the end is the 1928 Cole Porter song, “Birds do it, etc. Let’s fall in love.” It is again a curious but defining finale to this production of Korean male dance.

The choreography is by Boram Kim. The cast consists of Boram Kim, Kungmin Jang, Sung Tae Jung; KyoungHoon Choi, and BongSu Kim. Thanks to Andrew Wood, Director of the SF International Arts Festival for this special event.