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Hong Sungyop "Ah-Q"

Dance Theatre ON

Laban, Deptford, 4 November 2008

This bewildering dance creation was inspired, so we learned, by a novel called Ah-Q Zheng Zhuan by Chinese author Luxun (1881-1936), about an incompetent anti-hero, who symbolises ineffective resistance to the Chinese Revolution.

The theme of the dance piece was described in the programme as "Ignorance", characterised by strange movements (funny silly walks) and with a few recurrent images such as 'a flower, a sword and a peaked hood', most of them incongrous, disquieting and menacing. It begins with, presumably, the feckless "hero" being hauled to the front of the stage, where he is sat down with a meat cleaver in his back...

Stuffed life sized dolls are nonchalantly violated, cut up like butchers' meat and disposed of. By the end, the whole company have meat cleavers in their backs, obviously with political connotation.

Ah-Q believes that he wins against the persecutors by cunning, but is destroyed in the revolutionary ideology, shot and killed and - in Hong Sungyop's version - ends up back in front of the curtain again with us, the audience...

The novel is available inexpensively in English translation, in paperback from Amazon.

The show was mounted impeccably for what appears to have been its British premiere, without being part of a tour - as are most appearances of visiting companies to Laban. The interesting music score, embracing Mozart and pop as well as oriental roots, was projected in high quality sound.

The relevant websites of Dance Theatre ON & Korean Cultural Institute UK are notably unhelpful, but we have learned that there will be an associated concert of Korean music with traditional instruments in London on Thursday* ; Musical Pointers will be there !

Peter Grahame Woolf



Baramgot - european premiere appearance

St Giles' Cripplegate, London 6 November 2008

Won Il (Director/Percussion),
Pak Suna (Gayageum),
Park Woojae (Geomungo),
Lee Aram (Daegeum),

with Kang Kwon Soon (Vocal)

The concert of Korean music at St Giles' Cripplegate was an absorbing experience; nearly two hours music given without a break (church pews are hard for long listening !) displayed the multi-skills of this group, with singer Kang Kwonsoon whose seemingly effortless mastery of very special vocal techniques gave particular pleasure.

They played traditional Korean music, and some more modern pieces with a nod towards the interests of today's young. There was an appreciative audience of some fifty, assembled by invitation and word of mouth, I guess - no advertising that I've seen. The group was making its European premiere appearance, en route for Paris.

We were advised to sit well forward as they would not be amplifying their delicate instruments, so we learnt to our great relief (c.p Indians at Kings Place !). We heard flutes (side and end-blown), a variety of plucked and bowed stringed instruments, and percussion played by the group's director, Won Il. The church acoustic was ideal for the delicacy of this music, which is well reproduced on their CDs; enquiries to info@kcpauk.org or Korean Cultural Centre .


See also: Lee Jae Hwa (Korean Classical Music): http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/Korean%20Classical%20Music.htm