The Gong


Choreography: Hee Ra Yoo


Most recent performance: May 2011, 14th street Y theater, NYC


Description: Gongs are an important instrument in Korean traditional music and dance. Inspired by PungMul, a form of Korean traditional dance, this work tells the story of two Korean women. A few hundred years ago in Korea, women were not allowed to speak their mind. Men could have several wives; they controlled all aspects of the society and made all the rules. Many times these rules were not fair to women. The tension and frustrations caused by the social inequities between men and women are represented in the work. Two women are seen on the stage, with the gong representing the female voice. Except for the gong, there is silence as the women dance.

The piece depicts the sometimes strange reality of the lives of women in ancient Korea. Since women were raised in an oppressed environment with no other alternative, they accepted what they had and even defended the system at times. On the stage, the two women struggle with their desires and their duties.

The movement of the dancers is abstract, but derived from Korean traditional dance. This dance form starts with breathing, which connects all the movements. In “The Gong,” the breathing is most often a sigh, signifying the desire to express themselves. The dance lines are traditional, but twist over with modern sensibilities, showing the uncomfortable situation of the dancers. The movement is often athletic, allowing the dancers to express their inner pain with movement, and working to overcome that pain with calm and breath.