WOMAN LAUGHING

Performance Schedule:
June 21 - July 1
Thursday - Sunday 7:30pm
Sunday Matinee 2:30pm
The Annex Theatre
$20.00


Dancer/choreographer Sin Cha Hong is recognized as one of the most influential contemporary artists in Asia. "The Woman Laughing," her newest dance-theater work, will be presented by La MaMa E.T.C., June 21 to July 1. The evening-length solo work traces a mature woman's life journey through contemplation, conflict, acceptance and, ultimately, laughter.

Sin Cha Hong has created numerous critically acclaimed productions at La MaMa and other venues in New York and abroad. Age may seem somewhat irrelevant in speaking of the artist who caused a sensation at age 41 (eight months pregnant), performing in "Mouth to Tail" (La MaMa, 1981). Ms. Hong is now 60 and that is a significant age in Eastern numerology --12 signs of the zodiac x 5 elements -- and the number means one has experienced the full circle of life. After more than 30 years of performing and choreographing, at a time when others are thinking of retirement, Sin Cha Hong continues her nonstop schedule of creating and exploring, mainly through artistic pilgrimages around the world, from the Tibetan Himalayas to the jungles of Hawaii.

"The Woman Laughing" is presented in six parts, each reflecting a stage in the journey of a woman's life. In the first section, a woman takes her first step onto the path of the journey. In the second, holding a lotus root, she encounters the world of expectations, illusions and anxieties. In the third section, Hong circumambulates a pile of human skulls, evocative of a stupa. In the fourth section, seated on a swing, she observes the world as it alternately comes closer and recedes, occasionally speaking or singing brief phrases. In the fifth part, Ms. Hong addresses the subject of maturity more directly than she has ever done before in her work. In this section, she is alone in a mountain village reminiscent of Juksan, where she lives now. Fixing a fearless gaze on her reflection in a hand mirror, she looks into herself, contemplating middle-age and loneliness. She tries to accept the undeniable marks of age. Restless in sleep, she similarly encounters her dreams and memories. In the final section, she becomes "The Woman Laughing" because, "after all this life experience, there is nothing left to do but laugh!"

The first five segments are accompanied by a tape collage of ethnic vocal and instrumental music, and the last part features live music performed on the waterphone. The waterphone is a relatively new instrument made of metal bars of varied lengths protruding from a chamber containing water. It is bowed like a stringed instrument and is struck with mallets or a bare hand, like a percussion instrument. Listening to a waterphone is like being a scuba diver in an echo chamber, surrounded by deep underwater sounds, echoes and whale calls. The waterphone will be played by Young Ah Choi. Lighting is designed by Masaru Soga.

Sin Cha Hong was born and educated in Korea. She plunged into New York City in 1966, gaining a Masters degree in Dance from Columbia University. In the early 1970s, she began to create a stir in the dance community with her bold new choreography. Ms. Hong returned to Seoul in 1975, where she shocked and inspired audiences with "Labyrinth," an experimental dance and vocal collaboration with Korean composer Byung Ki Hwang. Following this and other initial successes in dance and music, she embarked on a private spiritual journey, studying with religious masters in India and traveling extensively to holy places in Israel, Tibet, South America and East Asia.

When Sin Cha Hong was living in New York during 1970-80s, she presented new dance-theater works nearly every year. Her La MaMa productions included "Laughing Stone" (1980), "Mouth to Tail" (1981), "Isle" (1986), "Matter of Fact" (1987) and "Pluto" (1992, 1994). As a soloist and with her Laughing Stone Dance Theater Company, Hong has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia to critical and audience acclaim. Hong brought her creative focus back to Asia in 1990, returning to Korea to live and work.

In his "History of World Dance," Jian Ping Ou, China's leading authority on dance, cites Sin Cha Hong as one of the world's 18 most important dancers, along with Isadora Duncan and Nijinsky. In America, Hong has received numerous prestigious awards, including four NEA choreography fellowships, grants from NYSCA, NYFA, and the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the Asian Cultural Council, and a visiting scholar grant from the Fulbright Commission. In 1989, her troupe gave the first paying public performances in the People's Republic of China; two years later, the Beijing Dance Academy invited Hong to give China's first national dance workshop. Currently, she serves as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Central Dance Academy in Beijing and at the Korean National University of Arts.
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