Enjoying Each Movement on Stage
Charms of modern dance
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The 2017 Korea International Modern Dance Competition successfully came to an end on the 12th, with 209 participants, recording the largest scale. Countless modern dancers showed wonderful movements on stage, heightening the tension. Out of these outstanding modern dancers, Kwon Jae-heon (Department of Dance, 4th year) proudly received the grand prize. We, therefore, met him again in a year, since his winning of the Dong-A Dance Competition last June. He showed more composure and maturity during his whole interview.
Life of concours
Kwon performed a stage named ‘Howling, Eighty Keyboards’ to Nocturn no.13, for this competition. A lot of the dancers make their own stages, and so did Kwon. He created a concept of himself being the 80 keyboards, so that he could show himself ‘being played.’ Kwon added that he continuously watched Cho Seong-jin’s performance videos to express the delicacy of his facial expressions. “I imagined myself as an actual piano. Therefore, there were hardly any emotional lines compared to last year’s stage,” explained Kwon.
Kwon, just like any dancers, went through a long, tough time preparing solely for this stage. Even though his stage took place in September, he started his practices for his competition since January. It takes him a month to recover his basic skills and another month to select his music and to set a frame of his performance. Since March, he sets himself into practice for an audition in May held by the Department of Dance. After the audition, he practices for another three months until the competition. “There are professors during the audition who admonish sternly. I was hurt by some of the comments even though they gave me more motivation. The most memorable comment was that I had no possibility compared to my friend next to me.” Reminisced Kwon.
This 2017 Korea International Modern Dance Competition was especially a meaningful competition to Kwon. Not only did he win an international competition, but he was also granted an exemption from the national military service. Korean male dancers are granted an exemption when they get first or second place in an international competition. To male dancers, two years of the military service is critical. The dancers’ body needs to be trained to be fit to dance well. However, after the compulsory military service, their bodies stiffen due to the lack of practice during their service. Moreover, the dancers need another two years to train their bodies back to their initial state. Therefore, Kwon was able to save four years of his career. When asked for his feeling towards his award, he replied, “I fell into tears as soon as I heard my name at that time. Currently, being able to not go to military service delights me the most. That two year gap is a big risk to dancers. I’m very relieved I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
As a dancer and a choreographer
Kwon’s life of dancing started since he was an elementary school student. “I just liked the applause I received during the recreation time when I was only an elementary school student. I danced through searching and following various dancing videos on the internet, without any private lessons before I entered an arts high school,” explained Kwon. He, therefore, started in earnest since high school and prepared for Hanyang University while his friends prepared for university of arts. “I saw a performance by a teacher in Hanyang University and was truly captivated by it. It was hard studying when all my friends finished their examinations, but it was absolutely worth it,” reminisced Kwon. Now as a Hanyangian majoring in dance, he is preparing himself to be a choreographer beyond a dancer.
His dream hasn't changed since last year. He, again, emphasized his goal throughout his interview. “You don’t have to dance well to become a choreographer. However, you need an extensive view to choreograph well.” Kwon explained that he, therefore, visits and enjoys a lot of museums and performances. He listens to a lot of classical music, especially Chopin. Moreover, as his brother majors in creative writing, Kwon showed extra thanks to his brother for his help. “I talk a lot about movies, arts, and music. He’s the very one who made the title for this competition. We tend to understand each other well since we have the same interests,” explained Kwon.
Now, before his graduation, he is looking forward to his department’s performance. Hanyang University’s Department of Dance will be performing in the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympics that is to be held next year. Kwon said, “I was planning to study more in Paris next year. However, I decided it’s more important to make meaningful memories with my friends here. I’m truly looking forward to it.” Kwon still has a bright future ahead of him. Instead of making ambitious goals, he explained that he’s going to stay realistic. “I’m not going to exaggerate my dream such as a ‘global choreographer.’ I want to be recognized in this field and be able to give speeches to people who don’t major in dance.” Kwon has been and will be able to show more in the near future.
On Jung-yun email@example.com
Photos by Kim Youn-soo
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