Edinburgh Fringe 2022
'Don't fit myself into the world. Do it the other way around!' Break away from fixed systems and be the creator of your own rhythm and individuality. BreAking brings together artists who imagine, play and reconstruct this new world, inviting you to meet a feast of unique selves who break up and mix up the status quo. With music by Lee Il-woo, of the traditional Korean folk, post-rock band Jambinai, five contemporary dancers and three top street dancers including the amazing DROP (Go Junyoung/Uptown Family), the crew transport the audience into a trance.
Hi Kyung-eun thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping?
First of all, It’s very nice to meet you ‘The New Current’ in writing. I recently finished the new work, bOK to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my dance company, Lee K-Dance. Under the theme of "All beings are blessings," I expressed the world where disability and non-disability coexist through dance. It received favourable reviews for presenting a new perspective on the theme of diversity coexistence.
How does it feel to be bringing BreAking to Edinburgh Fringe as part of the Korean Showcase this summer?
It's a great honour, and it is even more special to meet with overseas audiences for the first time since COVID-19.
Can you tell me how BreAking came about, what was the key inspiration behind this show?
It departed from the idea that the limit is maybe made by myself, not occurred by other people. Maybe we are always defining our limits just by myself. The answer to finally being able to break the glass ceiling and be free is, after all, to me. I think the world will change if I change myself. So I wanted to draw a fantastic journey from Class B, which is at its limit, to Class A, which is beyond its limits. Then, contemporary dance, street dance, and Gugak joined hands to break the limits and walls. I was inspired by the glass ceiling as a symbol of limits and boundaries, and I chose a transparent polycarbonate plate as a prop because there is something in common that transparent shields for preventing COVID-19.
How much did Lee Il-woo’s music influence you ahead of creating BreAking?
Our collaboration started with the choice of instruments that fit the theme of BreAking. Each instrument has its own expression. The inner state was expressed with a flute, the potential of change was expressed with the sound of gayageum, and the breaking period was expressed with a gong. Composer Lee Il-woo is open-minded to communication and in particular, his live performance is the best in the world. His music brought out the potential for dancers to demonstrate more than their abilities, creating the effect of mutually maximising the chemistry between dance and music.
When working with 5 contemporary and 3 street dancers what are the biggest challenges you faced merging these two dancing disciplines?
Because of the diversity of the two dance genres, there was fear and vigilance toward each other at first. Street dancers asked, "Should we do contemporary dance?" contemporary dancers asked, "Should we do street dance?" So I ordered them to dance their own dance. And we tried to draw our own stories with the essential question, "If we can't dance, how can we get out of this limit?" Add to that the basis for social issues of boundaries. There was a difference between the academic beauty of contemporary dancers and the natural beauty, purity, and wildness of street dancers. What we found in the process is that the entire eight dancers are simply dancing fools. In the work, it is a great challenge and achievement to capture the process of achieving the harmony of coexistence through diss and respect at the boundaries of genres.
How different was your approach to this new show compared to you previous show Lee K-Dance, Mind Goblin 2017?
The difference between the two approaches is that Mind Goblin was started with some ritual concept and BreAking has a fusion of diversity.
Mind Goblin 2017 was a collaboration between France and Korea with a 30-minute solo project by Lee Kyung-eun. It was a work that required immersion due to the nature of the solo, as it had a strong ritual to spit out the nature of evil in the mind. In the behind-the-scenes story, the choreographer performed it herself, so it was a work that lost much weight after the performance.
BreAking 2021 is a project that combines contemporary dance, street dance, and Gugak, and was produced by the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company. It was a work that approached the encounter of heterogeneous elements as a fusion of diversity, so there was a lot of communication process with various dancers.
What has the process been like working with Korea National Contemporary Dance Company on BreAking?
To summarise the BreAking production process, it was step 3. Planning and research, premiere performances, dance film production, and distribution of works.
First, BreAking is a program designed by the National Contemporary Dance Company of Korea to create a new Hallyu performance content that combines contemporary dance + street dance + Gugak. I choreographed Breaking in 2021 as an invited choreographer.
In order to research street dance, I asked for a preliminary research stage and with the active cooperation of the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company, I was able to study various genre characteristics in street dance. In the process, I was able to cast hip-hop dancers.
Second, the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company produced two kinds of BreAking works. Online dance films, theatre performances.
Third, since the first online screening in 2021, dance films have been continuously screened at global dance film festivals. The premiere of the performance was held in a face-to-face performance at the Seoul Arts Center during the 2021 COVID-19 Pandemic. Since then, there has been an overseas tour proposal, but it has been cancelled due to the pandemic, and this 2022 Edinburgh is the first overseas tour. I understand that the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company is working hard to promote it so that it can spread to the world stage.
"I vividly remember the audience talking to me in the lobby right after the performance, and I look forward to it this time as well."
When a new show is running how much flexibility do you allow yourself and your dancers with the piece?
When the show begins, it becomes a dancer's. I trust them indefinitely. In the process of creation, they believed and followed me, but now they know better about their stories. Like the topic of BreAking, I'm looking forward to seeing you break the limit yourself.
And finally, What do you want your fringe audiences to take away from BreAking?
The Fringe audience seemed to enjoy the performance in their daily lives. I vividly remember the audience talking to me in the lobby right after the performance, and I look forward to it this time as well. Don't you think everyone has the weight of life? I hope you can imagine your stories and make a performance together.
It is my second time performing in Edinburgh, but I think it is very meaningful that I came here with the National Contemporary Dance Company of Korea for the first time. BreAking is an attractive performance in which three elements of contemporary dance, street dance, and Gugak combine to break the boundaries toward diversity coexistence. You can meet the sincerity of the excellent Korean elite contemporary dancers and the wild and pure street dancers' dance. We hope that the audience will see the performance along with Gugak and take it as a refreshing festival of life. I'll see you at the theatre.