PLEASE TURN off your cell phone during the performance. Or not," says a
flashing neon sign at the beginning of the performance. Unlike most other
performances, it also mercifully allows picture taking and even encourages
yelling and shouting during the performance. The performance Sa Choom declares
freedom to all people who come to see the show. Sa Choom is an abbreviation for
its Korean title that can be translated into "If You Are in Love, Dance." As the
title suggests clearly enough, this is a performance full of dancing and
Freestyle Not a complex story, but direct
The form of the performance
is as free as it allows its audience to be. Deviating from the traditional form
of usual plays and even musicals, Sa Choom creates a whole new genre called
"dancecal." "The word dancecal is partly a play on words: We previously called
it a dance musical but we gave it the new name 'dancecal.' It satisfies the many
people who wish to distinguish it from the general division of musical,"
explains Choi Kang-il, the director of the performance. Choi, who majored in
play directing, says that he got his idea from a foreign ballet-and-tap-combined
performance. "It made me wonder why we don't have our own dance performances. We
can do much more than that. I wanted to challenge the world. I wanted to pursue
our own dance culture from heung" (heung meaning the Korean traditional emotion
As it has to convey the entire story through
dance, the performance cannot hold a complex plot. However, it is much more
dedicated than other plays in expressing the feelings and emotions of the
characters. As a character comically introduces the play in the beginning, the
storyline can be summarized into a couple of sentences: "Some people are born,
they grow. And.... that's about it." However, the overflowing passion from the
dances fills the space of the storyline. Every second of the 100 minute dancecal
conveys varying levels of emotion, and especially a great amount of passion and
love. From the start, it shows the love between two people who come together to
form a life. The children who are born grow up to also experience their own
love. The dancecal portrays three children at three different stages in
life：ages 7, 15, and 19 -and the love story associated with each stage of life.
The whole dancecal is devoted expressing love.
Diversity of dance
In order to express
the love in different stages of our lives, the performance makes use of diverse
types of dance. Not only does it introduce several genres such as jazz, hip-hop,
tap, break dancing, and modern dance, but it also presents these styles in
numerous ways. The most unique presentation would be the "life dance" which
portrays the race between the sperm and the union of one sperm with the egg.
Also, the lantern dance is another presentation that mesmerizes the audience. It
looks like a fire show, but done with lanterns instead of fire. In addition, in
order to show the love and passion between the lovers, the play uses couples in
dances that include many techniques like enlevement, the dance technique where a
male dancer holds his partner in the air.
Heat from the audience
|▲ The "Sperm
Dance" expresses the process of birth.|
attraction of Sa Choom is the fact that it is not just a performance to watch.
It is one to actually join in. The dancers hold events to get some of the
audience to come up on the stage and perform small actions, such as skits or
movements. Though shy at first, the chosen ones experience great satisfaction as
they find themselves
performing what they never dreamed of. Also, at the
end, all the people are led to stand up to dance to the main song of the
dancecal. Although it is somewhat unfortunate that the space is not big enough
for people to dance freely, smiles still show on their faces as they shyly
imitate the dance on a smaller scale. The director also explains that his first
intention was to make the whole audience stand the whole time, so they can
participate more in the dance. However, he changed his plan considering the
|▲ The young
pranksters are also shown on stage.|
scientists say that only twenty five percent of communication is done through
language. The rest is done through non-verbal factors like facial and body
expressions. Sa Choom proves it well by introducing a brand new genre of the
performing arts. People who are not familiar with this kind of presentation
might be confused at first by its lack of linguisting expressions. However, a
spectator who understands how much people can express their feelings without
words will be able to feel mesmerizing passion through the dances. Maybe that is
why Choi, the director, once said "Dancing is the most honest language of all."
|▲ Passionate love
is expressed through the sensual couple dances.|
Q: How long do the dancers prepare for the performance?
Do they ever complain about too much practice?
Choom has been edited and based on a previous dancecal I produced called
Dancer Edison. It took about 5 months for the dancers to work on Dancer
Edison, and one and a half months to work on Sa Choom. It is a lot of work
for the dancers of course, but they have never complained about it. They
love dancing. They enjoy performing because they can express themselves
through dancing. These days when there are performances in production,
they spend more time on stretching and general health
Q: You majored in Play Directing, but
your performance covers a lot of dance aspects. Do you have a lot of
knowledge about dancing, and can you also dance?
Ironically, I cannot dance at all. My dance ability is worse than
horrible; however, I can tell the difference between bad and good dancing.
I do not have to show the dance myself while directing, so my dancing
ability fortunately has not been a barrier.
The "dancecal" Sa Choom
2005~ May 28 2005