Water fills up an 18-meter-wide and 12-meter-deep water tank slowly as dancers move more dynamically. They stand tall before swiftly dropping to a crouch. Their movements resemble the astonishing water dance scene from the dance movie “Step Up.”
The Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theater will perform “Gam-gwae” on Friday and Saturday at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul’s Jongno District. Gam-gwae, which means water, is a large dance production that involves 44 dancers and explores truth under the theme of water, which is one of the eight elements of Yin and Yang where one Yang is drowned in two Yins. The 44 performers express the efforts to overcome COVID-19 and hope with their movements.
“The shape of the element that symbolizes a treacherous life trapped in water reminded me of the pain we all face amid the pandemic,” said Jeong Hye-jin, the leader of the dance theater. “I had wanted to create a show with a theme of a natural element for a long time, and inspiration for a show came to mind the moment I learned about gam-gwae.” She then went on to say that the show is about humans rising above their challenges. Jeong oversaw the choreography and choreographers include Jun Jin-hui, Han Su-mun and Kim Seong-hun who used to be part of Akram Khan Company.
Water dance performance is a rarity due to injury risks and stage restrictions. However, Jeong was committed to working with water to present something different to the audience. Water only touches the bottom of the dancers’ feet but slowly fills up to four centimeters by the end of the show as the show progresses.
Consisting of eight short chapters, the anthology starts with the first chapter which depicts a vibrant daily lives. The challenges that slowly surface in the second chapter before adversity strikes in the sixth chapter where performers repeat dynamic dance moves, breathing heavily. In the last chapter, they look at each other in a way that expresses inevitable coexistence. “I hope it can give everyone hope and courage,” said Jeong.