Madame Freedom, choreographed, directed and danced by Hyo Jin Kim, is an innovative merge of live performance and digital imagery. It shows a pivotal moment in history between traditional modernity that teases at your perceptions.
The dance explores the issues of feminism and portrays a woman trapped by her time and husband. At many points the dances is embedded in the film and she slips between the times. Her moves are simple but effective and you are captivated by the dance from the moment the screen starts playing. There is a modern interpretation of traditional music and the live performance of Jae Hyuk Kwak is a work of art performed alongside the dance of lovers.
However, despite admiring their skill and stamina the piece did not speak to me. I found myself often caught watching the films on screen rather than the work of the dancers. I did not see a journey from captivity to freedom, rather a person who was detached and emotionless. The dancer moving from screen to screen was disorientating and I was often left unable to read the translated lives on their screens due to the positioning. At times the dancer seemed unrelated to the themes of isolation and freedom.
Overall, however, this was a well-crafted production that raised some interesting questions.
The 1950s Korean cult classic Madame Freedom looks at the clash between tradition and modernity and questions what it is to be free. Now Hyo Jin Kim has created an impressive display that blends cinematic imagery and live dance to create a disorienting and stunning performance. Dancers simultaneously mirror and merge with scenes from the film that are played on four screens that make up the stage.
As the dancers interact with the events on the screen the lines between film and live performance begin to blur and the ghosts of the past are made real.
The piece is atmospheric and uses lighting for stylistic effect, using colour to convey mood and to change it. The music is intense and hypnotic, while the dancers perform mesmerising movements with great control and precision.
The performance eerily manages to depict a woman struggling to break free from the past and its feeling of being trapped by social and political expectations.
Hyo Jin Kim's choreography and directing manages to echo the film's focus of clashing beliefs and adds a layer of new depth to it by performing in this new style of media.
The show uses spectacular setting to shift our viewpoints using complex technology and dance between stage and screen. Madame Freedom is an exceptional performance using music, dance and cinema to create an atmosphere that will pull you into the past and remove its restraints, creating a unique and incredible experience unlike any other.
Disorientating. In more ways than one. Madame Freedom, brought to us from Korea, is based on arguably one of Korean cinema's most important films of all time. Unfortunately, for European audiences who are just being exposed to the show for the first time, a watch of this movie may be needed.
From an inventive and creative point of view, you cannot fault this 21st century adaptation of the original 1956 movie. Screens surround the action on three sides and the floor effortlessly plays clips from the film as well as stunning displays of colours and patterns. At times our protagonists slip into the recorded action as they mirror their onstage performance.
However, from a storytelling point of view, it's as easy to lose track of the plot as it is to lose yourself in the special effects. The movie is a fantastic idea but at times it detracts from the talent and skill that is on display in person by Hyo Jin Kim and Hyung Su Kim. It is incredibly difficult for the show to strike a balance between the two.
The show starts slow and in the first ten minutes, although Jin Kim needs no help to find her feet, Madame Freedom certainly seems to. After those ten minutes, the movie kicks in and gives the next forty five minutes the spark it needs. Unfortunately the last five minutes follows a similar path to the first ten. A free mind is best for Madame Freedom.
Madame Freedom is an artistic production that allows the audience to interpret the story as freely as Hyo Jin Kim's choreography. They give us small pieces of the character's story to interlock with the concept of Korean culture becoming more westernised.
The powerful use of lighting, music and large screens enhances our hypnosis into Hyo Jin Kim's 'independence dance'. The gradual development from the haunting contemporary dance moves to traditional Korean music, silhouettes and dim spotlight lighting transitioning into the almost sensual salsic couple dance, mood lighting and smooth mambo music captured us all - with not one member of the audience breaking their gaze from the powerful staging.
The computerised animation projections and extracts of the 'Madame Freedom' film played on the screens proving to be somewhat creative but sparking confusion in our minds, taking us on a perplex entrancing journey. The Madame Freedom performance is in homage of the 1965 Korean film 'Madame Freedom', that director/choreographer/dancer Hyo Jin Kim retells poetically through her ensemble.
Madame Freedom is a unique, mesmerising and entrancing dance production that provokes us to dance along with her in our minds to follow her story. Even if you do not grasp your own interpretation of the story, the captivating performance itself will provide a pleasurable experience.
This is a performance that leaves the audience with a hundred different interpretations in their heads. Madame Freedom treats the viewer to an hour-long dance routine preformed with an innovative visual element of giant screens on which clips from the original 1950s Korean film is projected.
These giant screens create a four-cornered room that offers the audience almost too much to take in. Dancers, Hyo Jin Kim and Heung Nam Kim, sway to and fro on stage in their modern outfits, mimicking the actors from the clips being played- giving the audience a real understanding of how the story of Madame Freedom can be put in the context of modern times.
Nearing the end of the performance the film clips are suddenly swapped for metaphorical videos of fish, rotating circles and clones which leave the audience visually disorientated but also mentally, as the viewer rushes to try and work out the symbolism behind it all.
As the lights go up, the audience is rife with questions - the answers being debated while the viewers leave their seats.
As is the case with any piece of theatre, we go in expecting mediocrity at best. With Madame Freedom, that was not the case.
An interpretive dance version of the ground-breaking 1950's Korean film, we spectate the protagonist, Oh Sonyong, as she is caught in the rift between the real and the imagined. Journeying through her consciousness, we are dazzled by an array of visuals and sound. Witnessing the increasingly fluid movements of Oh as she breaks free from oppression, in almost illusive fashion the conflicts of East and West, man and woman, real and imagined are addressed.
Madame Freedom is an incredible spectacle, fascinating us with its incredible visuals and audio, as well as a compelling storyline. Not to be overlooked, the sheer skill of the performers and the genius of the art director, Hyung Su Kim, was key in intriguing the audience throughout the production.
In a piece that becomes incredibly philosophical, choreographer, director and dancer Hyo Jin Kim asks questions about the true meaning of freedom, and how we, as a global society, choose to interpret it.
Madame Freedom is a revelation in the world of performance, acting as an interface between media and dance to produce a unique and creative display of the oppressive nature of the Korean culture then and now.
The opening scene presents an image of a woman dressed in full traditional robes whilst a solo dancer stands on stage surrounded by three walls of screens. As she danced on the dark stage, her stiff and rigid dance moves suggested her body and mind were being restricted and controlled, mirroring the strict Korean culture and the oppressive nature of her marriage.
We see this beautiful transition into freedom through the confliction of dance styles as her movements gain elegance and fluidity. In one scene, all the audience is allowed to see is a woman's silhouette, her movements mimic that of a bird, symbolising her reaching freedom and peace - a moment of clarity.
Throughout the performance, past and present Korea are linked through the media, showing several clips from the film and the behaviour of the dance. The change in women's role is shown through the woman's newly found freedom.
Hyo Jin Kim's performance possessed elegance, precision and passion. I couldn't help but feel privileged to experience her imagination and interpret her view of society. Her fathomless imagination is almost impossible to interpret in only one way, and that's the beauty of Madame Freedom.
Madame Freedom is based on the controversial 1956 film of the same name, it aims to portray a South Korean woman's need to break free of a patriarchal society and embrace western ideas of sexual freedom.
The dancers, Hyo Jin Kim and Heung Nam Kim, are undoubtedly talented, consistently using precise and delicate movements that effectively complimented the movie behind them. A welcome accompaniment to the dancing was the brief trumpet solo of musician Jae Hyuk Kwak.
Credit should be given to the artistic director, Hyung Su Kim, who ensured that the transition of the digital images on the three screens in the background was effortless. However these images varied between aesthetically pleasing colours and scenery and overpoweringly bright flashing lights which often became too distracting, thus hindering my understanding of the performance rather than enhancing it.
Overall, Madame Freedom was scrupulously choreographed while the dancers gave a perfected performance. Personally I found the performance was painfully slow moving and feel a more simplistic approach may have improved my enjoyment of the show.
Although I grasped the basic message, the show failed to relate its deeper meaning to me. However, this may be because I know little about dance or Korean society, as many of the older members of the audience seemed enchanted and emotionally invested in the performance.
Madame Freedom tells the story of a woman and her dreams of different lives, of different selves - and the choices that she can or cannot make. It explores themes of identity, myth, and a sense of being trapped in the past.
Hyo Jin Kim and Heung Nam Kim's performances were impeccable. Their movement was graceful and passionate. There were three back drops which showed various scenes and digital images throughout the performance and also there were projections on the floor. At points, Hyo Jin Kim almost became a part of the set and blended in.
However, the scenes and digital images used in the performance were sometimes distracting. As I tried to watch the various scenes shown, read the subtitles and watch the dancers, it became very busy and difficult to keep up with.
The choreography and the dancing was faultless. Madame Freedom was unique, elegant but at times there was too much going on. The digital technology and lighting was used well but sometimes very distracting. Overall, the night was different and memorable.
In our everyday humdrum existence we feel content in the society and culture we live in. We do not get to experience the excitement thrill and conflict that Sonyong does in 1950's South Korea.
Director, choreographer and lead performer, Hyo Jin Kim expresses the theme of freedom to experiment with foreign ideas and concepts from Western culture through independent dance. Hyo Jin Kim is a highly acclaimed dance artist who has achieved prestigious awards to her name such as the award of best performer in 2011 her Alice in Wonderland performance.
Heung Nam Kim helps express her themes by joining on stage with Hyo Jin Kim. Heung Nam Kim is a very experienced and knowledgeable dance with multiple qualifications in dance. The real life dancers and clips from the original film are fused together on three large screens, constricting the dancer. New clips have been created and played alongside, showing the similarities of the present and the adopted culture of South Korea in the 1950s. Traditional Korean music has been juxtaposed with popular jazz of the time period. The ambience of the performance regularly morphs and changes, creating tension and mystery contrasting with romance and excitement.
Heung Nam Kim's interpretation of the themes in Madame Freedom let the audience experience what it is that excited so many Koreans about the Western culture at the time and also the problems that came with it - leaving us enthralled.
Madame Freedom is a high octane dance performance led gracefully by Hyo Jin Kim and Heung Nam Kim. It is the story of a woman in a marriage where the romance is fading and the desperate wife is trying to break free from the confines of Korean culture and become more westernised.
Through the powerful use of music which changes throughout the performance going from slow and calm and then very suddenly changing to frantic music with a techno sound the dancers are forced to keep the pace thus creating a powerful artistic story that unfolds before our very eyes.
The use of large screens on all the walls and the floor which had images projected onto them gives the viewer a better idea of setting and allows them to follow the story of a woman who wants nothing more than to lead a free life. Through the couple's dancing we are able to see the slow destruction of chains that have held her all her life leading up to the grand finale - the kiss that finally breaks her confines.
Madame Freedom is a fast paced tale fantastically choreographed by Hyo Jin Kim. It conjures up a number of emotions that set the heart alight and leave you wanting more. Hyo Jin Kim has created a master-class performance and a wonderful rendition of the original film in a beautiful new art form.