Kuho Jung: One Dance Premieres at Lincoln Center During Korean Arts Week – July 20-22

SK Group, the second-largest conglomerate in South Korea, will present Sejong Center’s One Dance during Korean Arts Week, part of Summer for the City at Lincoln Center. Performed by 39 of Korea’s most skilled dancers from Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre, One Dance is a contemporary reinterpretation of ceremonial Korean traditional dance. Renowned creative director in fashion and the arts Kuho Jung has guided the overall direction of One Dance, including its artistic and creative direction, inspired by his career mission to modernize traditional Korean aesthetics. This vision of Korean performance is accompanied by the traditional Korean dance choreography of Hyejin Jeong—Artistic Director of Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre—and modern dance choreography from Sung Hoon Kim and Jae Duk Kim. Throughout his career, Kuho Jung has created 28 dance and opera productions and has toured successfully around Asia and Europe. One Dance marks Jung’s U.S. debut as a dance maker. He tells us about the upcoming performances of One Dance that will open on July 20 at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater and run through July 22. 

Kuho Jung, Artistic Performance Director

What does it mean to you to make your debut in the U.S. with “One Dance”?

It means a lot to me to be able to show American audiences a modern reinterpretation of this traditional Korean dance. I am honored to be able to work with the Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre through the support of SK Group, and am eagerly looking forward to the audiences’ reception in New York. 

How is it to work with the Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre? 

Working with the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts and the Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre has allowed me to fulfill my long-time desire of creating this performance, One Dance. This was all possible thanks to the full support of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts and all of the amazing talent at the Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre. Following the philosophy of the Korean royal court ritual dance Ilmu, every performer and staff member worked together in lockstep as one single unit to bring everything to life. 

From One Dance Act 1-1 (Photo credit: Hwang Piljoo)

I understand that “One Dance” honors Korean tradition through modern reinterpretations of royal Korean dance, music, fashion, and art. What inspired you to create this complex program? 

I was fascinated by the uniqueness of the dances in the ritual dance of the royal court called Ilmu. I chose Ilmu as the inspiration because these dances were very different from most other traditional or folk Korean dances. I also saw it as a challenge for myself as no one has ever created a modern reinterpretation of this dance before. 

What can audiences expect from the performance? 

It would be best for audiences to try to experience the essence of Korean dance through One Dance. Additionally, if audiences can think about where Korean pop culture might stem from while watching the performances, they will be able to experience the roots of all the creativity in Korean pop culture. I hope that the audience experiences and appreciates the beauty of Korea through this unique, modern reinterpretation of traditional Korean dance, costumes and props.

From One Dance Act 1-2 (Photo credit: Hwang Piljoo)

Are there any special recurring themes in the ceremonial dance that is part of the Jongmyo Jeryeak [a court music-accompanied rite to worship late kings and queens]? How might it reflect today’s world and in what ways might contemporary audiences relate to it?

Jongmyo Jeryeak’s Ilmu is an art form in which dancers follow a tightly structured choreography and move in synchronization without making a single mistake. I believe that in modern society, each individual fulfills their own designated role, and the collective commitment of these individuals is what creates a harmonious society. In that sense, the dances within Ilmu are like a representation of modern society. 

From One Dance Act 2 (Photo credit: Hwang Piljoo)

What do you hope that spectators will take away with them from attending “One Dance”?

I hope that the spectators simply enjoy and experience the beauty of traditional Korean culture and arts rather than trying to take away any profound meaning. There is a uniquely Korean balance between stillness and movement within Korean tradition and I hope that the audience will be able to remember this essence of Korea’s vibrant traditions.

Tickets to One Dance – July 20-22 – David H. Koch Theater

Korean Arts Week at Lincoln Center – July 19-22

Sejong Center

Top photo: From One Dance Act 4 (Photo credit: Hwang Piljoo)

 Kiho Jung’s photo courtesy of Kuho Jung

About Maria-Cristina Necula (182 Articles)
Maria-Cristina Necula’s published work includes the books "The Don Carlos Enigma: Variations of Historical Fictions" and "Life in Opera: Truth, Tempo and Soul," two translations: "Europe à la carte" and Molière’s "The School for Wives," and the collection of poems "Evanescent." Her articles and interviews have been featured in "Classical Singer" Magazine, "Opera America," "Das Opernglas," "Studies in European Cinema," and "Opera News." As a classically trained singer she has performed in the New York City area at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Florence Gould Hall, and the Westchester Broadway Theatre, and has presented on opera at The Graduate Center, Baruch, The City College of New York, and UCLA Southland. She speaks six languages, two of which she honed at the Sorbonne University in Paris and the University of Vienna, and she holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from The Graduate Center, CUNY. In 2022, Maria-Cristina was awarded a New York Press Club Award in the Critical Arts Review category for her review of Matthew Aucoin's "Eurydice" at the Metropolitan Opera, published on Woman Around Town. She is a 2022-24 Fellow of The Writers' Institute at The Graduate Center.