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MODAFE explores artistic universe of modern dance

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Sept. 18, 2023 - 16:36

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NDT2's NDT2's "Bedtime Story" (Courtesy of Rahi Rezvani)

A festival of modern dance returns.

The 2023 International Modern Dance Festival (MODAFE), the country’s longest-running festival for modern and contemporary dance, is gearing up to celebrate its 42nd anniversary this year.

The festival runs from Wednesday to Oct. 15, at the National Theater of Korea’s Haeoreum Theater and ARKO Arts Theater in Seoul.

Under the banner of MODAFE Universe, which alludes to the distinctive artistic views crafted by choreographers and dancers, this year's festival will gather 39 participating dance troupes, including three overseas dance companies.

Hofesh Schechter Company's Hofesh Schechter Company's "Double Murder (Clowns/The Fix)" (Courtesy of Todd MacDona)

Kicking off the monthlong festival on Sept. 28 is NKDT2 (Nederlands Dans Theater). The group's opening show will include Crystal Pite's poignant exploration of salvation in "Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue," Edward Klug's latest creation "Cluster" and Nadav Zellner's whimsical take on his dreams in "Bedtime Story."

For the finale, scheduled at the National Theater on Oct. 14-15, the London-based Hofesh Shechter Company will present the Asian premiere of "Double Murder (Clowns/The Fix)," a contrasting double bill.

Another festival highlight is Inbal Pinto's "Living Room," a unique portrayal of the fluidity of objects, situations, and people by the Israeli choreographer, where the unpredictable reality constantly rewrites itself. The set design and wall drawings are crafted by Pinto.

Lee Hae-jun, chairman of the organizing committee of MODAFE, speaks at a press conference held on Friday. (Yonhap) Lee Hae-jun, chairman of the organizing committee of MODAFE, speaks at a press conference held on Friday. (Yonhap)

"Due to the pandemic, Korean audiences have been unable to experience many international group performances. This year, we have focused on inviting top-notch dance troupes,” said Lee Hae-jun, president of the MODAFE organizing committee.

In a bid ensure sustainability of the program pieces, the committee is co-hosting several programs with the National Theater and the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company.

Korea National Contemporary Dance Company's new artistic director, Kim Sung-yong, will debut his work "Jungle -- Sense and Response," a production that delves into the personal histories and past experiences of individual dancers.

A diverse array of contemporary dance performances will take place over four weeks, including "MODAFE Choice" and "MODAFE Collection," which showcase outstanding works by Korean choreographers, as well as "Spark Place," featuring the creations of 12 promising emerging choreographers.

In “MODAFE Universe,” an in-depth exploration of the artistic perspective of Rising Tide Dance Theater, founded by the late Lee Sook-jae, will take place through a triple bill performance. Lee performed dances embodying Hangeul on stage, presenting a metaphorical piece embodying the essence of the Korean alphabet.