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Thomas Michael Voss

Review: Modern Table's DARKNESS POOMBA at The Place, Euston

Darkness Poomba Dance Company Modern Table, led by choreographer Kim Jae-Duk, closed this year’s London Festival of Korean Music with a sublime piece of art; a concoction of music, contemporary dance and song interwoven as smoothly as silk that led us on a journey deep into our soul, exploring the old and new and reassessing the past as reflected by the the future.

Taking traditional Korean folk song, Poomba, and gradually layering it with modern bass, drums and guitar creates irresistible waves of rhythm; it sometimes even resembled Bjork’s music. Modern Table understood only too well how to guide the audience in and out of the familiar without ever breaking the flow of the entire journey.

For the artists of Modern Table life is all about rhythm; pulsing, beating, flowing, expanding and contracting and this was well reflected in the movement and the music throughout. The dance piece all started with a simple line: seven dancers all in black shirts and suits on a black stage and only made visible by the most economic golden glow of light (by Kim Jae-Duk) giving warmth and humanity to the otherwise bleak bodies. The simplicity and internal focus of the dancers was mesmerising.

With drone-like sounds and prayer-like chanting the audience were transported into another more meditative world but one which built to a series of explosive, free electric movements, before dispersing and resolving into stillness again, only to repeat the cycle. There was a fantastic section of dancing with metal chopsticks, celebrating meals as a time for focus, calm and contemplation. One of the biggest climaxes was a sound cloud of rock music infectiously played by the three piece band formed by Heo Seong-Eun, Lee Tae-Il, Sunwoo Doo-Young, with vocals by Jeong Seung-Joon.

The choreography was exquisite - innovative, varied and peppered with a blend of traditional Korean dance, martial arts and contemporary dance at its best. The fluidity was rich with rhythm changes without any fear of stillness to express sincerity.

A multi layered and expertly executed display of work - utterly captivating. The company's return to London next year is definitely something to watch out for!