Yesterday, we went to the Chungju Cultural Center. A local dance and fitness studio was staging a performance and we decided to check out the show. Admission was free and we were both feeling a little stir crazy in our tiny apartment. The following is a rough synopsis of what we saw.
6:45 pm. We sit down in the corner of a massive auditorium. An announcer is speaking into a mic in one corner of the stage. The room fills with people.
6:55 pm. The announcer is still speaking. He appears to be introducing most of the front row. I imagine they are important personages, but we have no way of knowing. From crowd reactions, the announcer is charming and self-effacing. He could be giving us an extended reading of the phone book for all we know.
7:00 pm. A “making of” video begins playing on a massive screen over the stage. The soundtrack is startlingly dramatic, weepy cello music.
7:10 pm. The “making of” video concludes.
7:15 pm. The first act comes on. They’re dressed like frat boys on their way to a sorority party. I expect that they refer to each other as “bro” and “dawg.” The music starts and they proceed to…
…BREAK DANCE THE EVER-LOVING HECK OUT OF THE STAGE! Limbs flail in exquisitely choreographed insanity. Music pulses with a phat bass. It is straight up awesome.
7:25 pm. The break dancers finish their act by miming getting shot in a drive by. They tumble to the stage like corpses. The music drops and, without transition, becomes soft and classical. A Korean man wearing a see-through gauze top and microscopic shorts strides purposely onto stage amid the fallen frat boys. His hair is dusted with glitter and he has an impressive quantity of eye shadow. He performs ballet amid the corpses.
He too has mad skills.
I am now flummoxed.
7:35 pm. The ballet dancer finishes and the stage falls into darkness. When the house lights come up, ballet man and the frat corpses are gone, replaced by a squad of fourteen-year old boys. They dance with an enthusiasm that suggests that their mothers chased them on stage with guns to make sure they actually went through with it.
7:45 pm. The announcer reappears. He has a paper bag. He appears to be pulling random groceries out of the bag and showing them to the audience. Is this a mid-performance commercial break?
7:55 pm. And now, a pillow fight at a girls’ slumber party, as seen through the lens of interpretive dance.
(Cue music from Swan Lake)
La-la-la-la LA la swat-swat-swat-swat-swat, La-la-la-la LA laaaaaa la-la, swat-swat
8:10pm. The announcer returns and begins handing out groceries. Several people are given boxes of fruit.
8:15 pm. JAZZ HANDS on EXERCISE BIKES!
8:30 pm. The lights dim and the exercise bikes are removed. When the lights are turned back up, forty and fifty year old women fill the stage (like, every square inch). They are wearing startlingly revealing flamenco dance outfits. They proceed to break. it. down. The sixty year old in the front row is especially… uninhibited.
About halfway through their performance, I spot the single man on stage. He’s in the far corner, flailing away with a huge grin on his face. He has no sense of rhythm, but he’s very, very enthusiastic. He promptly becomes my hero for the evening.
8:45 pm. Belly Dancing! An exceptionally talented woman works through her entire routine in four-inch stilettos. GUH!
9:00 pm. We quietly sneak out the back door as yet another troupe fills the stage. According to the program (what little of it that we can read) we are about halfway through the night’s entertainment.
The cool, winter air is refreshing. The streets are quiet. We walk about a block in stunned silence. Then Erin turns to me and says:
“That was possibly the most awesome thing EVAH!”