Rendering at the Moment presented by the Born Dance Company July 18, 2009
Review by Rosie Trump
In the lobby of the Unknown Theater in Hollywood, CA, minutes before the Born Dance Company premiers new dance works by four choreographers, two masked figures peek their precocious heads out from behind the curtain separating the lounge from the performance space. They bound and bob around the lobby while audience members politely watch their humorous antics. Eventually the figures invite viewers inside the seating area, where a third masked figure looms on stage, facing an evocative mobile of dark masks. This begins the evening of dance Artistic Director Won-sun Choi calls “a tapestry of multi-cultural and social perspectives… drawing upon traditions of both East and West.”
The first dance of the evening, Rendering III: Tal, is a recreation of a traditional Korean mask drama, choreographed and directed by Won-sun Choi. Opening with a sentimental solo, focusing on a swinging torso and sweeping arm gestures, the dance progresses as five dancers keenly reveal themselves donning various masks. Render III: Tal is driven by an arousing score by musician Dong-chang Lim, yet the most striking section of the work emerges near the end. The dancers meditatively unmask themselves, convulsing and writhing on the floor, as if finally stuck with the unbearable weight of their true human condition. Rendering III: Tal calls towards the multi faceted nature of human identity.
Yeo, choreographed and performed by Byoung Yoon, unfolds over three disparate episodes, spattered with striking movement images and wrought with virtuosic toil. The highlight of this piece was the film, by Sera Lee, projected behind the dancer featuring a battery of rapid successive images spanning from a naked woman to a flock of geese. The most satisfying moments emerge as Yoon and the film momentarily intersect– an upwardly reaching arm meets the slow-motion flapping of a bird’s wing.
Built from observed gestures of a homeless woman, Sandival’s Story: three chapters choreographed and directed by Sue Roginski, fuses the deeply personal with public anonymity. A series of pedestrian tableaux coalesce, then dissolve as four female dancers brilliantly expand and compress the passage of time. Not only does Roginski break the fourth wall with several dancers beginning and ending seated amongst the audience, but she invites the viewers to learn and perform the core gestures of the dance. Sandival’s Story stands out as mesmerizing and deeply satisfying.
Just Look at There is a pensive dance between a woman and a digital, masked face on a computer screen. Heavy in tone, choreographer and performer Ji-young Jung binds impeccable choreographic timing with methodical suspense—the result is a highly dramatic duet with a fairly limited technological partner.
Rendering II: Life Journey, choreographed by Won-sun Choi closes the program as the only non-premiering work of the evening. Flirting with the tension between meditation and expectation, Choi choreographs an epic (yet at times overly ambitious) journey. From the stark white costumes and set to the red pools of paint, this dance is loaded with arresting visual symbolism.