Five thousand miles is a long way to go for a three-night stand, so we should count ourselves lucky that South Korea’s Laboratory Dance Project made the trip. The eight young men who performed Friday night at Lincoln Hall as part of White Bird’s Uncaged Series showed no signs of jet lag and gave the three pieces on the program their all.
LDP isn’t a big name in the dance circuit yet, but it’s certainly a notable addition. A product of the Korean National University of Arts, the company works from a contemporary dance base shaped by acrobatics, martial arts, b-boying, contact improv, even yoga. The musical accompaniment is equally eclectic, spanning industrial percussion to Portishead.
Are You Happy to See Me?, a sextet, shows off the dancers’ technical chops as well as choreographer Mi Sook Jeon’s talent for effective staging. Dressed in full-length indigo skirts, with tuxedo-style jackets slung over their bare torsos, the dancers perform unison steps and gestures in crisp synchronicity, alternating ensemble movement with solos and duets. Although the piece is essentially centered on a grid, Jeon makes good use of that constrained space: She juxtaposes sudden piston-like jumps with the incredible muscular control of a slowly unfurling headstand, and angles two dancers so that horizontal passage of a third behind them adds a layer of visual interest.
Insoo Lee choreographed Modern Feeling, which he also dances with Jinyook Ryu. It’s an athletic and witty duet that begins with a contagious twitchiness and gradually escalates into weight-sharing lifts, a slow-motion spoof of a martial arts showdown, a bit of floorwork and a surreptitious chase around the perimeter of the stage.
All eight dancers return for No Comment, which opens in silence, save for the dancers slapping their hands against their chests, creating a kind of violent group heartbeat. The piece then explodes into a series of sliding dives, handstands that skitter sideways across the stage and big jumps that end in sudden drops, all “conducted” by one dancer facing the action. The b-boy influences are the most apparent here, in high-flying movement set to what sounds like Bollywood but is actually Goran Bregovic & the Transglobal Underground. The piece ends the night with a jolt of welcome energy. Don’t miss LDP’s last show—it’s a trip worth making.
HEATHER WISNER. Lincoln Hall, Portland State University,