June 19 – 24, 2023, Los Angeles Dance Festival (LADF) will join forces with the Seoul International Dance Festival in TANK (SIDFIT), for a week of workshops and performances here in Los Angeles. During this time Korean and Los Angeles dance artists will come together in both collaboration, exploration, and learning. Participating dance artists will create new work together and present dances created by touring both Korean and Los Angeles choreographers. Registration is now open for workshops and performances.
Led by artistic director and choreographer Deborah Brockus, LADF is in its 11th year, and began its exchange with Korean dance artists in 2019 when the director of SIDFIT reached out to Brockus. Choreographers from Korea first performed at the Diavolo Performance Space as part of the FRINGE portion of LADF. This included three Korean dancers who performed in two works and the director taught a free dance class.
That first year, Korean dancers stayed at the home of dancer Charlotte Katherine and it was this, plus the overwhelmingly positive response from audiences that a close bond was created between the two countries’ artists. As an exchange, BrockusRED was invited to take part in the TANK festival in Seoul which normally occurs in the month of July.
TANK is not a place. Once a petroleum reserve base of six oil storage tanks built in the late 1970s, the abandoned tanks were reconstructed into art spaces, transforming them into what is now the Cultural Center located just outside Seoul known as Oil Tank Cultural Park (Google translation of their website is HERE). Each tank is a little over 49 feet high and 49 – 125 feet wide. Located in the middle of the park, the Cultural Plaza has the size of 22 soccer fields with six tanks around it. Three of the tanks are used for performances, one is a visual arts museum/café and the sixth is an administrative building that also houses the history of the Cultural Center.
“I love cultural exchanges,” said Brockus, “because you see stuff in such a different way than the locals. You really get a sense of being in another country and at the site, immersed in art. When you are in Seoul, you are working with Korean, French, Chinese and other foreign artists.”
For 2020 – 2021, the two countries were forced to participate in virtual exchanges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once things opened up again in 2022, Brockus took her company and two choreographers, Charlotte Katherine and Seda Aybay of Kybele Dance Theater.
This year’s international festival was designed around the one created last year by the director of SIDFIT. There will be movement workshops and what is called “Instant Creations.”
“You actually get a chance to work with Korean choreographers and dancers,” Brockus stated. “So we’re mixing the two cultures. Korean and American dancers will get to play together through dance.”
Because most people have jobs, the festival will be split into morning and afternoon sessions, both of which will begin with a movement exploration class. “I say that because the Korean contemporary is very Avant Garde,” Brockus added. “They are incredibly trained, but they don’t work in that at all.” She went on to explain that it is as if Pina Bausch met the Asian culture in that it is very experimental, it is very deep thought and not afraid to do nothing. “It is actually crafted together in a very conscious but not self-conscious way. It is an informed but innocent form of exploration and an excellent experience for American dance artists.”
Like Pina Bausch and Martha Graham, the Korean dance creators make use of prop symbolism. Props are used in their work with a very specific reason in mind.
“They are basically setting the landscape of the mind and the idea through their selection of costumes, music, props, architecture on the stage, and movements,” Brockus explained. “Their culture is very conservative, but very Avant Garde. One might see them naked onstage but covered up in public.” When I asked her if the Korean choreography was a reaction to the conservative culture, Brockus said no. “I think that they can separate and regard art.” She went on to explain the difference between Korea’s conservatism and ours in this country. “Theirs is more based in tradition. There’s a sense of community and of respect, and of boundary lines when you are living close to people.”
One of the press releases put out by LADF stated that the June 22nd performance at the Korean Cultural Center was called Contemporary Dance Stories. I asked Brockus to explain what was meant by Contemporary Dance Stories. She said that the title came from the Korean Cultural Center’s translation meaning that the performance would cover the gamut of Korean dance which will include traditional Korean dance as well as different iterations of their contemporary dance.
“It is basically Korean Culture through dance,” she explained. The performance at the Korean Cultural Center on June 22, 2023 is free. Audience members just have to make a reservation. (See link below)
The work created in the Instant Creations classes will be shown in an informal setting on the last day at BPStudios.
When, Where, and What
- June 19th opens with 4:00-6:00 with a movement workshop with Volta Collective, 6:00-9:00 meet & greet / improve jam.
- June 19-24 begins at 10:00am and studio work ends at 5:00pm
- June 22nd 7:00pm the performance is at the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, 5505 Wilshire Blvd. LA, CA 90036. Works will include choreography by several Korean choreographers –
- June 23rd & 24th the showcase performances are at BPStudios’ Black Box Theater, 618 b Moulton Ave LA, CA 9003. Works will include choreography by Charlotte Katherine, Volta Collective, Gretchen Ackerman, and BrockusRED.
**Workshops, Classes and choreography sessions will be at BPStudios.
Dancer/Choreographer Bernard Brown (Bernard Brown/bb moves) will be leading classes on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings; Volta Collective takes the lead on Thursday and Friday mornings; and on Saturday morning, class will be led by Sam McReynolds. In the afternoons, classes and choreography work will be led by members of three different Korean dance companies. The evenings are free so that the Korean dancers will have an opportunity to see and experience Los Angeles.
Brockus is hoping that both the Americans and the Korean dancers will participate in all the classes. “It’s a way of getting a look at another culture and another way of looking at art without a plane ticket or jetlag,” She said.
Full workshop $250; Full workshop Bring a friend = 2 for $300; Full workshop ½ day $150, Single class $20.
Pay venmo@brockusprojectstudios (There is a Venmo bar code near the bottom of the page HERE.) Note what it is for and your email so we can contact you.
Ages 16+ with some contemporary dance experience.
Show ticket reservation – seating is limited :
- June 22nd at 7:00pm at the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles Consulate General of the Republic of Korea 5505 Wilshire Blvd. LA, CA 90036. – To reserve tickets, please click HERE.
- June 23rd and 24th at BPStudios’ Black Box Theater at 8:30pm $15 venmo@BrockusProjectStudios (There is a Venmo bar code near the bottom of the page HERE. – leave date and email in notes.
This is the first full workshop located in Los Angeles as part of the exchange. LADF has worked with groups from India and Finland in Los Angeles and many countries in online exchanges. Coming up in August 2023 is an exchange with Poland.
For more information, please visit the Los Angeles Dance Festival website.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: SIDFIT company – Photo courtesy of LADF