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Australian and Korean dancers join forces for Seoul Street Arts Festival

Arts

South Australian dance troupe Restless Dance Theatre will collaborate with four Korean dancers in a reworked version of their award-winning show, Intimate Space, for the Seoul Street Arts Festival.

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Following a performance of the work at the Australian Performing Arts Market in Brisbane last year, Restless Dance Theatre was invited to attend the South Korean four-day festival.

Seoul Street Arts Festival began in 2003 and is the largest street arts festival in Korea, bringing performers from across the globe to the heart of Seoul.

Restless Dance Theatre Artistic Director Michelle Ryan said the company had begun working with the Korean dancers before leaving Adelaide, South Australia.

“The way that we do it is that we’ve recorded everything that our dancers do, but there’s always a new way of including what the Korean dancers can bring to the piece as well,” Ryan said.

“There’ll be four Korean dancers featured in two different scenes. We’ve met some really fabulous dancers from Korea, they’ve been sending me videos and I think it’s going to be pretty special.

“We’ve also changed our instructions into Korean – a lot of the instructions for the piece are given in a quirky way, like embroidery on the side of say a jacket or on a sock. But the beauty of dance is that it doesn’t rely on language. So, for me the piece is about the emotion, the things that make you question your perception of people. I think that’s why it works well.”

Restless Dance Theatre is based in the South Australian capital of Adelaide, working with dancers with and without disability. All of the company’s performances are collaboratively devised and informed by disability.

Intimate Space, which has won and been nominated for a stack of national awards, is a series of experiential site-specific solo and duet works of dance theatre presented within a hotel. Audiences move throughout the hotel discovering the dancers in interesting spaces.

Ryan said the show has been shortened from its usual hour to 40 minutes for the 20 Korean performances, which will be performed in the New Seoul Hotel between October 3 and 6.

“The reason I wanted to make the piece in the first place is because you very rarely see people with disability in that public arena,” Ryan said.

“I wanted to make something really beautiful, so people aren’t scared because they don’t know how to react. But at the same time, there’s quite a few underlying questions in there. Like, why don’t we see more people with disability in that public space?”

Restless Dance Theatre has taken a touring group of 16 to the South Korean capital, eight of whom are performers.

“It is big for Restless to tour because we have to make sure that our dancers are safe and supported,” she said.

“And it’s for an audience of 10 or 11. So they’re not big shows but it’s an exclusive little performance for people.

“The main thing for me is it’s always about the art. The fact that it’s artists with disabilities shouldn’t really come into it. It’s that we’re making great art and showcasing everyone as artists. And our guys are pretty amazing and people are always surprised and that’s the thing.

“I always say you should expect excellence and not be surprised by it.”

Ryan said the tour marked the beginning of ongoing international collaborations for the company.

“We’re hitting the world stage, that was always the aim.”

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