When Martial Arts Meets Contemporary Dance

Nov 19,2018

Two thrilling performances are set to take place at New York University Abu Dhabi(NYUAD) this month. The event will mark the UAE debut of Korea's critically acclaimed Bereishit Dance Company, the group will debut two shows back to back at the Red theater in NYUAD on November 28.

Titled 'Judo and Balance and Imbalance' the gripping performances will merge martial arts and contemporary dance as it attempts to utilise the symbolic meaning of sports through rhythm, movements and space.

We spoke to artistic director Soon-ho Park to learn more about the act and his creative inspiration.


Why did you choose judo to develop this performance?

It didn't start from Judo. I was interested in the anthropogenic reactions of athletes who play sports and the energy of the moment visualised through these movements. I also wanted to have a specific space to reveal the intention of the work, and I thought a Judo mat could trigger this limited space and movement method.


What inspired the background score?

When I have a 'theme' or 'material' that I'm interested in, I look at everyday life with its gaze or perspective - this process gives me the information I need. As time goes by, Im able to accumulate the visual and auditory aspect of the work.

Do you think such performances can blend the differences between Eastern and Western cultures?

In the 70s, many western influences such as popularization of democratization, modernization, hard economic growth and an influx of American culture increased in the name of economic development. This is also the time when social conflicts started intensifying. Growing up in this mixed society of western and oriental cultures, I grew up naturally without feeling the heterogeneity of the boundary.

Moreover, localities have disappeared today. The development of media has made glocalization of the world irrelevant to the regional and collective characteristics of culture. It is as if the artistic style of an area or group is under the influence of each other, such that pure artistic characteristics of an individual are difficult to designate as unique.

Do you have any particular message or thought you would like to deliver through these shows?

Most people who live in modern times love sports, myself included. However, I only know the field of 'sports' in terms of 'media' or myself. I think I have to look at its multi-layered side to learn more.

The sport we know of has 'romantic' aspects such as good competition, joy, sense of accomplishment, collaboration, and so on. But Judo is about human instincts and social attributes like "aggression" or "law of the jungle" that human beings express through sports. It's a sport that says ''get off the romance''.


Catch Judo + Balance and Imbalance at the Red Theater, New York University Abu Dhabi - November 28, 8pm. Tickets are priced from Dh 52.50 – Dh 105. For more info and to book your tickets visit nyuad-artscenter.org


Image Courtesy: Supplied