A lively old man sits in a circle of exotic stringed-instruments. He wears brightly-colored, traditional Mongolian dress and, lifting the mandolin-like morin huur, improvises a bouncy tune about Jeju. Although the lyrics are Mongolian, the sentiment is joyful and appreciative of the island; perfectly capturing the mood of the sunny, breezy afternoon that came just before. When he is finished, the MC explains that it is a Mongolian tradition to create a narrative hymn when visiting a place you've never been before. It was this performance that marked the opening of the Thursday night Performing Arts show of the Delphic Games.
The Mongolian master, Tseyen Tserendorj, showed absolute knowledge of all his various instruments and used his bow, fingers, and voice to coax every possible sound out of each one. He sang heartfelt and stirring songs, ranging from the upbeat to the mournful. It was a truly remarkable performance by a master of the art of Mongolian folk music.
Performing Arts The second performers were the Kyoto Alti Dance Company from Japan. This group of women performed a ballet-based, contemporary dance piece. They were dressed as nuns and the dance was called ‘Sisters of Prayer’. It was an examination of God from an atheistic perspective. The dance was graceful in its fluidity and the only moments of stillness came when the dancers sat on stools to simulate prayer. The choreography featured beautiful patterns as the many women moved in synchrony. The ultimate message of the dance was about finding hope in prayer. The stillness and peace that seemed to capture the audience indicated that the message had been successfully delivered.
The final performance of the evening was by the Rocio Vasquez Flamenco Company who displayed traditional, Spanish flamenco dancing. This troupe, consisting of a deft guitar player, a wonderfully throaty Spanish singer, and a male and female dancer, has toured the world. They played music and clapped rhythms as one voice; all working in harmony to make the powerful, percussive sound. The dancers, wearing elaborate Spanish costume, stomped, swirled, and posed, creating the Spanish heat that Flamenco requires. They danced and danced, never tiring, and the audience ate it up.
The after-hours performance featured poets from all over the world. They recited their original works in a huge variety of languages; from the South African tribal language Xhosa to Japanese, Korean, English, French, and Hindi.
This evening of international art was truly a celebration of world peace; as people from all over the world came together to share their talents and appreciate the talents of others.
Think on your feet The Delphic Games featured a wide variety of competitions to challenge young artists and honor their excellence. The Improvisational Dance Competition took place on Sunday, at the Jeju Cultural Student Center. Each dancer was asked to perform a solo dance to music of their own choosing, which was to be created on the spot. Then, in the second part, they were asked to dance together without any rehearsal. The fierce competition made it fascinating to watch.
The dancers also performed solos to highlight their regional styles. Those from Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and China were mostly contemporary dancers with well-trained classical lines and a thorough knowledge of their country’s dance forms. The dancers from India performed traditional Indian dance and a lone dancer from Russia employed an Arctic tribal style. Two dancers from Africa were influenced by African rhythms, and a female dancer from Poland had a discotheque vibe to her booty-shaking club dance. Men from Mongolia danced in traditional dress, bringing leaps, color, and a martial energy to their work, and the dancer from Malaysia brought a graceful, powerful presence.
The dance competition was even more exciting in the second round; where the dancers were put into pairs or threes to improvise a dance, each using the same song. Each new combination was a completely different experience, so somehow hearing the same song over and over didn't drive the audience insane. It was fascinating to see the dancers explore each other’s styles, mirroring and adapting to their partners.
The competitions of the Delphic Games provided audiences with the opportunity to see something other than the usual polished, finished performances. They were able to experience something different but equally as compelling: emerging artists coming into their own.
Art exhibitions For the Delphic Games, the Jeju Media Center opened its doors to the public to display art. The Maestro Gallery showed puppets from Korean puppet-theater. The room was packed with shadow puppets, paper puppets, and ones carved from wood. The puppet master, Sim Woo-sung, was also chatting with people about his work.
The Hall of Delphic featured an exhibition by masters in graphic text. Work by the Arabic calligrapher Al Shukairi Saleh Juma Muslem, and the American font creator Jill Bell, was displayed. The Maestro Hall displayed great works by masters in their field.
The Photography display was of pictures of Jeju from the World Heritage Museum. Shown nearby were the winning pieces from the Calligraphy, Drawing, and Graphic Arts Competitions. The work was excellent on an international scale. The galleries of the Jeju Media Center often host exhibits for the public to enjoy.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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