Ko Doo-sim graces ‘Dance Lesson’
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Veteran actress Ko Doo-sim returned to the theater after a five-year break, dancing to her heart’s desire in the play “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” at Doosan Art Center Yonkang Hall in central Seoul.
Ko, who made her debut in 1972, is one of the top actresses in Korea. She has mostly played maternal roles in movies and television dramas such as “Twinkle Twinkle” (2011) and “My Mother” (2005), and her theatrical credit in “Mother” (2007). However, she showed what a mature actress can present on stage in “Dance Lesson.”
Written by Richard Alfieri, the play portrays how a friendship blooms between Lily Harrison, a retired teacher in her 70s, and her dance instructor Michael Minetti. Their first encounter is riddled with misunderstandings and lies, but they get to know each other’s secrets and scars, and become friends.
The two are very different — Lily is a formidable upper-class woman living in an apartment with a breathtaking view, while Michael is a homosexual dancer living from hand to mouth. The elegant woman is halfhearted about this instructor who tells one lie after another and her bluffing gets on Michael’s nerves. Later they discover what they have in common — being a minority — and embrace each other’s problems as friends.
As Lily learns from Michael for six weeks, a variety of dance performances grace the stage. They start with lively swing and sexy tango move to romantic waltz. Lily shows talent in the foxtrot, cha-cha-cha and contemporary dance as well. Such animated dance moves light up the stage and show how much practice they undertook. Ko changes costumes for each dance, providing another attraction.
Ji Hyun-jun, who recently appeared in the musical “Moby Dick” as Queequeg, plays her counterpart. His sly portrayal of a gay dance instructor and beautiful dance movements adds zest to the play.
Though Ko looks younger than her character, her flawless dancing provides a spectacle for the audiences, mainly mid-aged women. But her acting seems not as realistic and natural as it was on the small and big screen, lost in the differences between screen acting and live theater.
Ko displayed deep affection for her character. “Many women in their 40s and 50s will relate to Lily. They live a hectic life raising their family, but do not look after themselves,” Ko said at a press preview of the play. “I sympathized with the line that Lily says ’I was a woman’ and decided to play Lily.”
She added that “Dance Lesson” will heal women and help them finding their true self. “This play is about dance, but when looked closely, it is more about life,” Ko said.
The play runs through Sept. 2. Tickets cost 50,000-70,000 won. For more information, call 1588-0688.