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Art&Culture
Jeju’s Maro set for SeattlePerforming arts team head to US thanks to fan’s fundraiser
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승인 2016.05.20  16:35:59
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▲ Korean Performing Arts Development, Maro. Photo courtesy Korean Performing Arts Development

A troupe of traditional performers from Jeju is set to appear on stage in Seattle thanks to a devoted fan's bid to bring them there.
Korean Performing Arts Development, Maro is heading to venues in the US city in June to perform a string of shows.
The seven-strong team of traditional dancers and percussionists will enact Leodo: a Paradise - a boundary-crossing folktale of an idyllic island mythologized by Jeju people.
The trans-pacific trip is thanks to Korean-born, Seattle resident Min Moon who says she is "making art personal" by bringing the theatre troupe to her hometown.
Grieving the loss of her father from cancer, Min said she found solace in watching Maro perform Leodo and felt an urge to share her healing experience.
She said: "Maro’s performance of Leodo: The Paradise was a moving experience that really touched me in a profound way. I was unfamiliar with the local culture and spirit of Jeju, but I was deeply mesmerized by the way it was portrayed through a fascinating blend of genres with contemporary and traditional elements.

▲ Photo courtesy Korean Performing Arts Development

"For the past three years, I have been grappling with grief and struggling to find ways to deal with my father’s passing from cancer. Maro’s performance felt like a communion between the protagonist lost at sea and myself. It was extremely personal, cathartic, and healing.
"It expressed what was too deep to find for words, and I saw a reflection of universal experiences that I could relate to. I didn’t feel so alone in my struggle anymore, and I wanted to share this with those that I loved."
She continued: “It took a lot of soul-searching before I realized that I had a story to share that would inspire, provide hope, and spread a sense of goodness. When you share your narrative in an honest and authentic way, you’re performing a kind of activism that connects people to each other.
“Maro’s performance told my story beautifully – that there’s beauty to be found within sadness and despair, and no one is ever alone in their suffering.”
Determined to reach her goal, Min launched an internet crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter and quickly attracted more than $20,000 in donations from more than 200 supporters.

▲ Photo courtesy Korean Performing Arts Development

She said: "When the target was reached, I was overwhelmed with so much gratitude that I fell incredibly ill and became a limp noodle for about a week. It was as if my body finally allowed itself to let go and unwind from the weeks of restless evenings and hamster-wheel thinking. I don’t think I’ll fully recover from this until the completion of the event."
She added: "My family and friends have been my wings. However, I was most surprised by the number of acquaintances and strangers who excitedly and enthusiastically endorsed and supported my vision."
Hundreds of spectators at the Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony orchestra will see Maro perform on June 17.
The troupe will also put on shows at an elementary school where Min's father worked and at the city's Korean Culture Festival.
It is not the first time the Jeju troupe have travelled far overseas -they perform hundreds of shows annually at home and abroad and have mesmerised audiences at shows as far flung as Guadeloupe and Scotland.

▲ Photo courtesy Korean Performing Arts Development

For the past three years, they've been performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - the largest arts festival in the world - with their show listed as one of ten unmissable acts in 2013. The same year they received an invitation to perform at the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival.
The Seattle shows will be the second time Min has presented Maro to US audiences. In 2015 she presented a sold-out performance of Leodo: The Paradise to a multi-ethnic crowd in New York City.
Maro was one of seven performing arts groups selected as part of the 2014-2015 Open Stage series by the Korean Cultural Service New York where Min was working at the time.
She said: “As a Korean-American born in Korea and raised in the states, this was a dream job that allowed me to merge these two cultures together and take an active part in promoting Korean culture through exciting and diverse mediums in New York City.”
A spokesperson for Maro said: "We are so grateful that Ms Moon started this project because of her desire and passion to heal other people as she was healed by Maro’s performance.
“We hope that we can deliver authentic Korean feelings and draw the empathy of the audience beyond language and culture.
"People in America who are interested in Korean culture might have heard of K-pop, kimchi, taekwondo and bibimbap but these are only small part of Korean culture. So we anticipate that our performance which contains Korean authentic feelings will touch their heart deeply."

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