‘La Chun Hyang’ Review

'La Chun Hyang' Review

So did everyone enjoy the show last week? We hope you all managed to get tickets! We arrived super early and were 2nd in line in the ticket queue. However, we were given seats right at the back which we thought was a bit lame at the time. Even so, the seats turned out to be fine and we enjoyed a bit of free culture in the capital city.

The Play: 

La Chun Hyang by Kim Geung Soo Ballet CompanyWe know some people may not be fluent in interpretive dance, so if you want to know what the plot was, take a look at the first blog post we did, where we gave a summary of the story. When we blog, we try to be helpful and hopefully it saved you from a confusing hour. The story was supposedly a modern take on classic heroine Chun Hyang, who risks everything to protect her chasity for her betrothed. The show begins in a bustling city where men seem to rule (this is our take on the interpretive dance). We are introduced to Chun Hyang, her lover and the producer. Chun Hyang’s beauty is portrayed through the majestic hanbok she wears, stopping men in their tracks and requiring bodyguards as she gracefully models the beautiful and intricate garment.

Now we understand that this is a modern interpretation, so we’re guessing we witness a love scene between Chun Hyang and her lover. The dancing is fluid and in sync, you can sense the trust and love between the couple. This is performed with Pansori playing in the background, giving it a dramatic and intense atmosphere throughout emphasising their devotion towards each other.

La Chun Hyang by Kim Geung Soo Ballet Company

As expected, something takes the lover away and Chun Hyang is left alone. We see a humourous audition scene with the producer and what we interpret as auditionees flirting and practically throwing themselves at the producer for a chance of fame. There was even a foursome at one point. There was a bit of a discussion about whether this is what happened between the MASSIVE and friends, but what else could throwing a man to the ground and having 3 girls jump on top of him symbolise?

Half way through, Chun Hyang comes into the audition and steals all of the producer’s attention. She is instantly selected and we see the producer trying to pursue her. She rejects him and he sends his minions after her. Now, we spent most of the evening after the show debating what happened. What we saw was four men forcefully dancing with Chun Hyang and at one point she is flung into a full clench with one of these men, it happened at least twice. This dance is completely dominated by the men and at some points Chun Hyang’s body is limp and lifeless and just being passed around. So we obviously came to a morbid conclusion. We did wonder how this theme of chastity was going to be tackled in a modern setting. This conclusion was further emphasised by the scene that followed where the lighting is all blue and Chun Hyang’s movements resemble washing motions, is this the interpretive dance version of sitting in the shower hugging one’s knees?

Chun Hyang’s lover returns and a rather confusing fight scene erupts. Afterwards, Chun Hyang’s lover tracks her down, she is ashamed, their movements are no longer in sync. The intensity of the moment is enhanced by silence as we all watch in tension. The lover fights Chun Hyang to try and help her. He tries to show her that he doesn’t care about what happened, he just wants to take care of her. We watch as their movements gradually become one again and Chun Hyang opens up to her lover. They are soon together again and continue on with their daily lives just like all the other couples of the city. Chun Hyang ends the play with a signature move from before which symbolised the love and passion between her and her lover.

Our thoughts: 

'La Chun Hyang' ReviewBeing sat at the back ended up being good as it meant we could see the whole stage and appreciate the group dances. But being Kpop fans, we’re used to dance routines executed in super in-sync motion, and the performance was not as slick as we’re used to. Compared with other ballet performances we’ve seen on other occasions too, there were noticeable moments where the dancers weren’t keeping up with each other.

We also found it very hard to differentiate between the characters. For example in Yohangza Theatre group’s production of A Midsummer Night’s dream, we were able to differentiate between characters due to colour coded costumes. But in ‘La Chun Hyan’ all the costumes were very similar and because we were unable to see the faces of the dancers very well, it led to confusion. Especially in the audition scene when Chun Hyang comes in, she is also wearing red with only her skirt hem line slightly different making it quite hard to differentiate her from the other auditionees. It was always quite difficult to separate the main characters in group scenes, especially the fight scene. There was a total of 6 male dances involved in these dances, but it wasn’t clear whether we were to interpret this in a ‘Scooby Doo running in and out of different doors chase’ style, or if the lover had brought along his gang to fight the producer’s gang.

We really loved the little snide remark about the entertainment industry via the audition scene. The dancers were dressed in wigs and were slightly clown like. The dancers were also not quite perfect with landings purposesly faulted. But these girls go on to persue the producer in sexually aggressive ways in hopes of making their dreams come true. A deep and profound message about the entertainment industry we feel.

The set was also really simple and rather than using props to help move the story along, ‘La Chun Hyang’ thought outside of the box by using many different dancing styles to tell the story.

OK starOverall we thought that the production of ‘La Chun Hyang’ was nice. It was a interesting, or a poetically disturbing night, depending on how you interpret the dances. It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting from the pre-information we were given and had a lot more adult content than we expected. Some scenes also felt a bit dragged out but we feel that one hour is just the right amount, although we were sad that we didn’t get to see some brilliant Korean humour like from Jump. We were also quite miffed about the ending, it was another typical Korean ending where TADA, things just work out and they live happily ever after… In conclusion, we recommend this to all modern dance lovers, but do make sure you have an idea of the plot line first to avoid confusion!

A word from the director Kim Geung Soo:

Thank you very much for coming to the performance. With your support, we were able to successfully finish our project, and please continue to have your love and support for Kim Geung Soo Ballet Company.

'La Chun Hyang' Review
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