The Choreography of New Dances: Sharon Joyce Kung and “Just Before Now”

Sharon Joyce Kung with her maternal great-grandmother and her maternal grandfath
Sharon Joyce Kung (Photo by Cheryl Mann, courtesy of Thodos Dance Chicago)

Sharon Joyce Kung, whose new choreographic work “Just Before Now” will premiere this July at New Dances 2010, had an intriguing concept for this piece. In part inspired by the recent passing of her grandfather, and in part by the remarkable life journey of his mother (her maternal great grandmother), Kung wanted to explore some of the rich philosophical ideas of her heritage. Her great-grandmother struggled heroically to bring a young family (including her grandfather) safely out of the chaos of the Japanese invasion of China, settling finally in Hong Kong. Having a clear concept in mind is a great start, but to communicate that concept to those who must make the work with you while you yourself are still working out how to express your vision --- that can be a challenge. In Kung’s case it may have been even more complicated. When a subject is as rich as this, to express that concept in movement requires a delicate balance of commitment and flexibility.

“Just Before Now” opens with the music of traditional Chinese instruments, combining a contemporary architecture with classical Chinese sensibilities. Kung explores some distinctly Chinese ideas, like the idea of stillness, which can also be seen as “movement in place”, and of the movement of water, which can be immensely forceful despite its elemental yielding. While lyrical, the choreography of the opening movement suggests an evolving energy, and as the work progresses through an interlude of sounds from a forest in early morning, Kung explores some of the complementary dynamic that East Asian thought refers to as Yin and Yang --- feminine and masculine, night and day, light and shadow --- an exploration she continues through the final section of the piece, set to an increasingly dramatic score of Taiko drumming.

“I remember growing up, my Mother would always tell me to think with a calm head”, Kung recalls --- advice reflected here in choreography that retains its calm, even in its most expansive moments, while presenting a series of intricately woven moods.

Thodos Dance Chicago’s NEW DANCES 2010 will be presented July 16 and 17 at 8PM and on Sunday July 18 at 5PM at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago 60605. (312) 369-8330


Sharon Joyce Kung and "Just Before Now"
Brian Hare and "Temporary Proof"
Wade Schaaf and "Dancer, Net"
Jacqueline Stewart and "Jiffy Pop"
Joshua Manculich and "____versus____"
Danielle Scanlon and "Heart Strings"
Francisco Avina & Sephanie Martinez Bennitt and "Quieting the Clock"
Jeremy Blair and "2:00 AM, Delancy St."
Jessica Miller Tomlinson and "Big Technique"

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