The Korea Herald


ARKO Selection inspired by the familiar

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Feb. 22, 2024 - 23:46

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"Sanctuary for All" (Arts Council Korea)

ARKO Selection's fifth and final set of productions -- one traditional concert, two dance performances and one opera -- are drawing inspiration from elements that will be familiar to Korean audiences.

Kicking off the weekend on Friday and Saturday, the traditional performance "Multiverse of Infinite Convergence" brings gugak to the center. Gayageum player Heo Yoon-jeong, also a member of the jazz and gugak crossover ensemble Black String since 2011, will collaborate with 13 musicians, creating a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.

"It is a destiny for traditional instrument players to create new music and communicate with contemporary audiences. Playing geomungo, I encounter the past, and there are times when the music feels not so archaic but rather futuristic, so much so that it doesn't feel realistic. I wanted to share that feeling with people,” said Heo.

The geomungo is a six-string plucked zither with both bridges and frets.

On March 1 and 2, choreographer Her Sung-im, active in the UK, Korea and Belgium, draws on another common Korean theme for her latest creation, "Where is the Rabbit?" Delving into the process of rediscovering forgotten innocence within our unconsciousness, the performance stars Belgian choreographer Grace Ellen Barkey as a choreographer and dancer.

"Where is the Rabbit?" (Arts Council Korea)

From March 1 to 3, the Sunheon Dance Company presents "Sanctuary for All," a dance performance inspired by two gilt-bronze pensive bodhisattva statues that are both national treasures and textbook staples.

"I think the smile of the bodhisattva can heal people's loneliness. The performance transforms the venue into a space representing the journey of enlightenment, featuring a serene sanctuary for everyone," choreographer Cha Su-jung explained.

"The Wings, Yi Sang" (Arts Council Korea)

The Daejeon Opera takes the spotlight at the National Theater's Daloreum Theater with the original production "The Wings, Yi Sang," from March 8 to 10. Drawing inspiration from the works of Yi Sang, a revolutionary figure in modern Korean literature, the opera pays homage to his contributions as a novelist, essayist and architect.

Chi Eun-joo, the artistic director, said she would like to introduce Korean literature to the global stage through an opera produced in Korea.

"We hope to go abroad with this work and are currently working on translations,” said Chi.

Emphasizing the multisensory nature of Yi's poetry, Chi mentioned that the performance visualizes the poems in the show as well.

The four productions are among the 28 new works funded this year by Arts Council Korea, a government organization dedicated to promoting diverse arts and cultural activities in the country.