Bae to Put on Stage Scent of Spring
By Han Sang-hee
Staging a dance performance requires a lot of work and attention ― from the choreography to the sets and costumes. But for Jina Bae, the artistic director of the National Dance Company of Korea, one of the most important aspects is music.
``One of the main reasons I feel nervous and excited about working on a new piece is because of the chance to meet a new composer,'' she told The Korea Times during an interview last week at the National Theater of Korea.
Even for her latest work, ``The Scent of Spring,'' which touches on the ancient love story of young maiden Chun-hyang and her lover Mong-ryong, it took many composers to get the right melodies. Although the dance piece begins next month, Bae is still not fully satisfied.
``To be completely honest, I would give it 70 percent on a scale of a perfect 100. The remaining 30 percent is left a mystery, I guess,'' she said.
The 65-year-old art director started dancing when she was five years old and has been recognized as one of the best creative dance choreographers in Korea. Now considered Korea's most literary choreographer, Bae said she isn't sure if that title suits her.
``I just work on the dance movements. I don't try to be literary or anything. The most important part when I choreograph is if the work will be able to relate to the public. I always try to find a theme that is easy to understand. It's not about me, or the stories that I am interested in, but rather stories about others,'' she said.
``The Scent of Spring'' made its debut in 2001, and, although at the time many considered Korean traditional dance a bit weak compared to Western dances like ballet and modern dance, it received critical acclaim among dance fans and experts. Bae also produced the ballet version of ``The Scent'' with the Universal Ballet Company's ``The Love of Chun-hyang.''
``It was meaningful (to work on this traditional tale) as Chun-hyang is one of Korea's representative characters, and we all hoped this would be the chance to introduce the character to the world. The story and layout of `The Scent of Spring' and `Chun-hyang' is quite similar, but the dance form is completely different, which was both hard and interesting for me to work with,'' said Bae.
``The Scent of Spring'' will be held at an amphitheater where the audience will get to watch the dancers from many different angles ― which will, indeed, be a challenge for everyone involved in the performance.
``I was up for the challenge. This will be a chance to show the inside and out of `The Scent.' The dance itself will be put to the test, as there will be no special effects or other theatrical substitutes to cover up flaws and mistakes,'' Bae said, smiling.
She added that this way, she will easily realize the strong and weak points, and be able to present a better version of ``The Scent.''
``This must be done to prove that `The Scent' is accessible. We want to bring the dance piece to other parts of the country, and so we need to really know if it's possible,'' said Bae.
Thanks to her efforts and contributions in trying to bring the beauty of Korean dance to the stage, ``The Scent of Spring'' was chosen as one of the national brand performances by the government and will also visit Hong Kong and the Philippines later this year.
When asked what dance meant to her, Bae looked at flowers placed on the table and said, ``Dance is life.''
``Dance is what makes me feel alive. Just moving your arms and legs is not dancing. It's more about the inner breath. When you look at a flower and just think `that's beautiful,' you are not expressing anything. You need to say it out loud, `Wow! The flowers are beautiful!' to show your feelings and show the world that you are alive. As dancers, we share our imagination through dance and that is what makes us alive,'' she said.
``The Scent of Spring'' will be staged at the KB Hanuel Youth Theater, National Theater of Korea, from July 3 to 4. Tickets range from 20,000 to 50,000 won. For more information, visit www.ntok.go.kr or call (02) 2280-4115.