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FringeReview Scotland 2024

Kontemporary Korea: A Double Bill of K:Dance

Sung Im Her and Melancholy Dance Company

Genre: Dance, Dance and Movement Theatre

Venue: Tramway Theatre


Low Down

Presented in two halves, we begin with Flight by Melancholy Dance Company, from choreographer, Cheolin Jeong, where our two performers – Cheol-in Jeong and Jisu Ryu take turns in trying to raise the other as they comically flop and turn over. Then they begin to emerge physically from this malaise through their 20 minute performance piece which describes striving for something just beyond our reach. It leads, through their duo and solo work to a spectacular visual of them running towards the back wall and the snap blackout leaves us with the impression they have finally manged to fly. The second half, is a breathtaking piece which analyses the over loading of our lives by social media. Tomorrowisnowtodayisyesterday (TiNTiY) by Sung Im Her, who choreographs and performs with Martha Passakopoulou and Seo Jun, begins by bringing one performer onstage, followed by the other two in mask before they are entwined and brought out of their physical bubble. It sparkles into life with repetitive movement to underscore the influence that social media has over us all – overwhelming, repetitive and disruptive. After a short break in the performance, we are brought back through the use of a voice over. This manages to highlight the corruption of an ideal behind connection through technology and reminds us of the physical pain it may bring – in our shoulders if nowhere else. It ends with exhaustion all round the stage and into the auditorium.


The use of contemporary  dance to highlight ambition and the ill effects of social media may seem to be, in their own way, flights of fancy, but in such accomplished hands, here they manage to communicate wonderfully well the concepts they are exploring.

In Flight, we have interactions which show how each person may fall, leap, and fail alone, but need support to find their wings and their feet. This was ably illustrated when one of our dancers would be falling forwards but then helped to allow their hands to hit the ground first which served as the perfect visual metaphor that we need help to fail properly. It brought to mind much by way of the learning and teaching that comes from building resilience and develop personal strength which makes such a difference in working as a team than performing as an individual. But there was a lightness of being and touch which brought much comedy to the piece, leaving many in the audience guffawing as the performance captured our attention.

It was the final visual that stayed with me and as I close my eyes now, I can still see it. It left me with a desire for more, which was just as well.

Just as well because if Tomorrowisnowtodayisyesterday (TiNTiY) is anything it is plenty. From the emergence onstage of first one, then two and three performers we are given an overwhelmingly physical representation of the overload we feel in lives which manage to be captured online. With tremendous lighting which really adds something to the piece, we see dimly lit physicality, which is high octane, full throttle energy. After 40 minutes, I was knackered, and I wasn’t onstage.

Where it was most impressive was when our three performers found themselves giving us a Tik Tok dance craze where each was in synch, then slightly out of synch, then totally out of synch before with a shift here and there onstage they end up back together again. As a physical and visual metaphor for how crazes online can take us over, provide discordance within our communities and then we can see them in the rear view mirror was astonishingly prescient.

By the end these exaggerated forms perfectly encapsulated the way that social media has overtaken us: the need for drama where there is none amongst lives filled with trauma and tragedy beamed into us from elsewhere was snared with an alluring and nightmarish vision.

As a double bill, rather than being contrasting works as expressed in the programme, I found them filled with unity which allowed them to begin a feeling, develop a movement and then deliver a knockout show which made me realise that the connections between us needs treasured – to help us achieve and protect us from some of those over achievers.