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Gothenburg Opera Dance Company to bring creativity in its first Seoul performance

May 25, 2023 - 19:34 By Hwang Dong-hee
"SAABA" (Tilo Stengel/LG Arts Center)

Sweden's Gothenburg Opera Dance Company will meet Korean audiences for the first time by performing “Kites“ and “SAABA“ at the LG Arts Center Seoul, on Friday and Saturday.

The leading contemporary dance company in Europe is composed of 38 dancers from over 20 countries, and has been actively collaborating with international choreographers to stage challenging and innovative performances.

Katrin Hall, artistic director of the company since 2016, said the participation of dancers of many different nationalities is what makes the company unique and creative.

“It contributes to the diversity that the company works towards. It brings different flavors and creativity,” said Hall speaking to local reporters on Wednesday.

“We work very creatively as a collective,” she said. “And the choreographers we work with use that creative force as inspiration. So dancers are co-creators of every production we do.”

Hall added that one of the dancers joining next year is a Korean female dancer -- which is a first for the company.

"Kites" (Tilo Stengel/LG Arts Center)

This weekend, the company will perform a double bill: “Kites” by Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet and “SAABA” by Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal.

Hall introduced the two works as conveying the “fragility and vulnerability of life.”

In “Kites,” dancers run back and forth between two ramps tilted on the stage while performing complex patterns and movements, which Hall explained, is like “hanging on a thread like a kite surfing on unpredictable currents.”

Also, “SAABA” shows fragility contrasted by an intense physicality through the "very specific vocabulary” of the choreographer. “It’s almost like you see inside their souls,” Hall said.

(From left) Artistic Director Katrin Hall, dancers Hiroki Ichinose and Valerija Kuzmica attend a press conference held at the LG Arts Center on Wednesday. (LG Arts Center)

Accompanying the interview were dancers Hiroki Ichinose from Hawaii and Valerija Kuzmica from Latvia, both of whom will participate in the performances.

“Both works are not necessarily narrative. They are based on a feeling so I hope the audience would watch the piece to just experience and feel,” said Ichinose. “There’s time for the audience to reflect and (they) will put you into a trance.”

“‘Kites’ inspires a lot about nature and its power. It is performed through a highly calculated form where we are very precise but still exploring natural forces,” said Kuzmica.

The artistic director highlighted the importance of collaboration.

“I would like to reach out to a wider audience without compromising our art. I think it’s important we find a new way that we haven’t explored before. Because it’s all about expanding the range of art and pushing boundaries in all directions," she said.

Hall mentioned that the company had received an offer from a K-pop agency -- later confirmed to be Big Hit Music -- to do a collaboration just before the pandemic but were not been able to proceed at the time.