Concept & Direction of Dream Ritual: Bongsu Park
Choreography & performance: Jinyeob Cha
Sound design: Haihm
It is the day after the opening night of the much anticipated performance of ‘Dream Ritual’ and much like writing down my dreams where you question the structure and the sense of a narrative, I am recalling the nuances of the solo dance performance that I have just seen and trying to understand the intricate images and sounds woven together of a dancer, video installation, hypnotic and pulsating music together with voices that have come together to create this dreamy yet eerie foray into the depths of the mind.
It begins when a solitary dancer emerges onto the stage that is covered in a reflective black surface. In between is a pellucid greyish fabric that is looped around the middle representing brain waves at a stage of sleep where one can vividly recall their dreams – REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep.
The dancer herself, wears a white translucent fabric, that is loose fitting and appears comfortable. She stealthily walks to the front of the stage and keeps a steady yet almost hypnotic gaze towards the audience and pulls towards her a similar grey fabric across the stage that now separates the audience from herself.
On to this fabric, a pre recorded video of her face falling asleep is projected. It is almost lulling the audience into doing the same. An image of a hand falls across the projected face as if to lure the audience in. Behind the thin grey veil the dancer stands silently and gently starts flailing her arms in a bird like fashion to show she is taking off in flight to the land of sleep.
Images of brain waves start appearing on the fabric moving across from left to right. Soon white letters start to fall from above in a random fashion, but you can see words forming like ‘corridor’, ‘clothes’ , ‘soil’, ‘ cliff’ etc.
Projected video images of the dancer can be seen on the cloth moving forward and then backward in a spiral like fashion showing the descent into the subconscious. Some run, some walk and the real dancer figure mirrors and reflects them.
Words of an ancient Korean text, translated into in English, appear on the fabric telling us the story of two sisters whose fates changed simply by one of them selling the dream she had to the other. A voice over is spoken in Korean, narrating the dream. The dream by Bohui, the elder sister, is of her climbing to the top of a mountain where she sees the entire city. She starts urinating and cannot stop until the whole capital is flooded. She then tells her sister of this strange dream and the younger one, Munhui, instinctly knows that this dream holds great promise, and is a sign of things to come. She promptly buys this dream from her sister, using her skirt of embroidered brocade as payment.
And so it appeared things changed as the younger sister finds herself marrying Kim Chunchu who later becomes King and makes her Queen of the Silla Kingdom instead of her elder sister, giving birth to six sons, flooding the capital with seeds or her children. Thus soldifying the belief that dreams can change destinies and come true to some extent.
In the performance, snippets of dreams now appear and I catch my breath as I see the one I contributed appear in front of me about my deceased grandmother.
After the dreams contributed by people appear on the screen, the dancer pulls back the fabric, letting the audience join her in deep slumber. She assumes a position on the floor and starts writhing slowly to the electronic pulse music.
Letters in hangul appear projected on to the screen of the looped fabric. I wonder if they have always been there or if I am just noticing them now. Spoken words in both male and female voices are heard in different languages from snatches of dreams here and there. The voices are accompanied by electronic sounds playing loudly and quietly. Words are repeated like a broken record player and the solitary figure amplifies these words through her body. She thrashes about as if in the midst of a violent reaction, opening and closing herself.
As the soundscapes play out, the lighting dims from a bright white into a shade of pink. It feels we might be now in the eye of the storm where all is quiet and she is in deep slumber. The music changes pace and the dancer figure, now upright, hunches over, her arms out dancing in what can only be assumed to be in a tribal shamanistic fashion. She runs on the spot with her arms moving this way and that almost as if her life depended on it. At times when she consumes the spot light, she is bathed in a pinkish orangey glow, looking like some sort of religious figure.
Soon the music and sounds come to an end leaving a breathless dancer on stage. The light fades to white and just like she did in the beginning, she pulls over the undulating fabric that again projects the image of the face, this time returning to her wakeful state. There is silence, and then applause, signaling the end of the show.
J. Allan Hobson, American psychiatrist and dream researcher describes dreams as containing messages that cannot be delivered in any other way, therefore opening itself to much scrutiny and interpretation by religious figures, scientists and artists throughout history. [Dreaming, a very short introduction, Oxford Press, 2002]
So I wonder if what I have seen is a scientific interpretation of the mind in slumber, or a performance of a religious shamanistic ritual? Perhaps it was a journey of a historical narrative dating back to 640 AD of the two sisters and their dream? But the performance does not have to focus on just one.
The conception of this one hour mystifying performance is in the hands of talented London based visual artist, Bongsu Park. Although being curious about the cultural impact dreams have on our lives is not unsusual, the unique way the artist presents her idea, is.
She wants to understand how our dreams can be shared with one another when they are usually quite private. She also seeks to raise questions and awarenes of different culture, customs and beliefs which leads to a better understanding of each other.
Weeks leading up to the performance, people were invited to share their intimate dreams and some were used as part of the Dream Ritual performance. Dream Auction will see the same dreams being auctioned off for charity as part of a wider project which very much highlights the concept of buying and selling dreams interwoven in the history of Korean Culture.
Bongsu has joined forces with choreographer and dancer Jinyeob Cha to create this visual spectacle. Jinyeob is the artistic director for Collective A and was commissioned as as choreography director of the Winter PyeongChang Olympic games 2018. Also joining in the collaboration is Haihm, an electronic musician. All three women hail from South Korea and the performance is a wonderful example of how strong collaboration delving into minds of the concious and subconcious create a truly wonderous experience.
The entire narrative performance is based on this auspicious dream recorded in the Samguk Yusa, a very old text of Korea, documenting the history.
Last performance is this evening [6th July]. What are you waiting for? Call the Coronet Theatre and grab yourself a seat to witness this amazing experience 0203 642 6606.
There is also a gallery showing Bongsu’s previous works taking place in the Print Room which you can view before or after the performance.
Performance for Dream Ritual at the Coronet Theatre 3rd July – 6th July
- Coronet Theatre
The performance contains intermittent bursts of flashing imagery
Support the Project: Dream Ritual|Dream Auction
World Premiere In association with @thecoronettheatre
Thanks to – @kccuk and @rosenfeldporcini