Living in a foreign country where you have an extremely polite grasp of the language can make life extremely simple and extremely complicated at the same time. On a daily basis I don’t have to necessarily watch what I say because no one can understand me anyway, but when I do need someone to understand me, simple tasks become instantly frustrating and complicated. Fortunately, I can speak two languages fluently, English and dance. Dancing or being surrounded by dance is where I can find solace within myself and comfort in the fact that I can communicate with others without any words at all. If there is anywhere at all in this world to be as a dancer right now, it is Seoul. Like any big city there is a large population of artists, but I feel like the modern dance scene is taking off right here and now in Seoul.
This year Seoul held its first ballet festival. This ballet festival stretched through the month of June and included the classics Giselle and Swan Lake, which has become increasingly popular in the aftermath of the release of Black Swan. Since I had seen both of these ballets here already I took advantage of seeing the modern ballets which were performed in Jayu theater. I love Jayu theater because it is a small intimate setting and it literally is a black box with three tiers of seating. This evening I saw two modern ballets. The first was performed to the 70s rock hit “Keep Yourself Alive” by Queen. The dancing was dynamic and angsty. The ballet started out with a projection of the original music video and I was instantly intrigued to see what type of dance would be created with this 70s rock music. They ended up taking the words to the song and one of the dancers sang the words in a slow, eerie, acapella version while doing sign language type movement before breaking out into their high energy choreography.
The second ballet was called Flow…ing. This was a beautiful modern ballet the centered around two love triangles with two men and one woman in each. The choreography was beautifully executed to the sounds of fast violins and other string instruments. This ballet ended with a slide show presentation with pictures outlining the history of Korean ballet. Last week I also saw two modern ballets, Iron II and The Quasar. I’m thankful that I get to be in Korea during this time where modern dance is truly being recognized and celebrated. Surrounding myself with dance by either going to a show or taking a class has become my retreat here. When nothing is familiar and I can’t understand anything going on around me there is always the universal language of dance.