Goliath in the Water (3 stars)

This article is from 2019

Goliath in the Water

Emotionally-charged dance held back by foggy storytelling

This piece, from Korean choreographer Kim Mo Deun, is based on the Korean novel of the same name. It's possible this is as classic a text in Korea as, say, Animal Farm or The Crucible is in the UK or US. But whether or not it should be better known to us, it isn't – and with no programme notes or synopsis, it's hard to pick out the nuanced story that a novel provides, simply from dance.

The company has also chosen to keep the staging minimal, probably in part for practical reasons, but this too places more pressure on the dance to be our only inroad to the story. The dancers are dressed in simple, modern clothes in bluish hues, while a few dustbins and pieces of junk hint at dystopia.

All of the performers excel at uncanny, unsettling movement. They slide on stage, lithe and robotic, to the incongruous 60s pop beats of Nancy Sinatra's Sugartown. In a solo, Mo Deun flings himself around, loose and controlled at the same time. And Kyu Yeon Jeong's death dance, spidering her limbs all around, is haunting.

The atmosphere also tightens when a dustbin full of empty water bottles spills over the stage and an ugly plastic sea – along with rattling, crackling thunder – envelopes it.

It lets us know there are things to think about here; they're just presented in a way we can't make out through the fog.

Assembly Checkpoint, until 26 Aug (not 12), noon, £12–£13 (£11–£12).

Goliath in the Water

  • 3 stars

Modeun Company – Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd 'As David fights against Goliath, we live.' Kim Elan's infinite and powerful work is inspired by the story of Goliath. Through dance, it paints a picture of us as small and powerless human beings, resistant to natural disasters and expressing our feelings in harmony…