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Seo Dance Company aims to bring greater variety to local theaters

June 13,2019
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Dancers from Seo Dance Company perform a contemporary dance piece that is a part of the company’s repertoire. [SEO DANCE COMPANY]
Although they are best known for their productions of “The Nutcracker” and “The Ugly Duckling,” the Seo Dance Company has plenty of other performances in its repertoire. Higher quality contemporary works choreographed by Seo Mi-sook, the company’s art director, like “Contrastes,” which premiered in 2011 at Suresnes Cities Dance, but has never been staged in Korea.

“[We have] many other contemporary dance works that have not been performed in Korea and other pieces I want to work on,” said Seo. “I’m just always on the lookout for opportunities.”

That is why Seo and her dance company have been participating in the Haevichi Arts Festival for the past three years, hoping to find a perfect match interested in putting on Seo Dance Company’s works at its venues or collaborating in a joint production. The annual festival is like a matchmaking event for her company, she says.

Seo selected the company’s best dancers and brought them down to Jeju to present part of one of the company’s top pieces “Hymne a l’amour Piaf” for the festival’s showcase.

“I wish I could bring the whole company, but I couldn’t because of the budget,” Seo said. “With just a few dancers, I plan to show what we have to offer.”

“Hymne a l’amour Piaf” is a tribute to Edith Piaf and Seo choreographed the piece. It was produced in collaboration with the Uijeongbu Arts Center in 2012. Yet since each arts group can only spend a maximum of 30 minutes performing at the festival, Seo Dance Company had to choose only some parts to highlight. The company’s showcase was held on Tuesday afternoon.

“It will be a totally different feeling to the original work,” said Seo, who sat down for an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily prior to the showcase on Tuesday at the Haevichi Hotel & Resort in Jeju. “But we will do the best we can with what we have.”

Seo said she had to take out many of the more technical moves in the piece because the stage set up for the showcase at the Haevichi Hotel & Resort was too slippery for the dancers wearing toe shoes.

“I know this showcase is not only for ballet companies,” said Seo, “and that musicals and classical music is being performed here as well, but I hope the organizers could be a bit more considerate and understand that different genres need different [stages].”

Except for the staging issues, Seo says she is pleased to see that the festival is growing in size and quality.

“This year, we missed the deadline to apply for a booth but next year, we plan to prepare a lot and set up a booth here,” said Seo. “There is a lot to show from the company that we haven’t yet. For small and private art groups like the Seo Dance Company, this event is really helpful and I hope it can bear more fruits each year.”

The Seo Dance Company was established in France in 2002 and then settled in Korea in 2005. Because of Seo’s connection to France and other European countries, the company has had more success abroad than in Korea. For example, the company’s “Fluide” was invited to Festival Off d’Avignon in France in 2006, becoming the first Korean private art group to do so. The show was hailed by critics from across the globe.

Since it became the resident company at the Suwon Cultural Foundation, the company has also produced ballet performances targeted toward children.

“We are attempting to go two ways,” said Seo. “We’ll continue to stage and develop contemporary works but now also stage educational piece for children as well, so that we can grow artistically and contribute to society at the same time.”

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [sharon@joongang.co.kr]