Monday, November 26, 2012

"Hope"...Lionel Hun

While Lionel Hun is not the only choreographer who is currently blending genres, particularly hip hop and contemporary, but I do believe that his genuine, authentic respect for both traditions gives his work a special quality. He is as comfortable in the joint isolation of popping, as he is in the lines and technique of ballet. But I never get the sense that the inclusion of either genre is a gimmick, but rather a true extension of Mr. Hun's interests and legit areas of training. For more info on Mr. Hun's work, please visit

MUSICALITY: The finger dexterity that is required to play a clean ascending scale on a piano, is brilliantly transferred to the footwork displayed at (0:25-0:27) and (0:31-0:33). I think that this association between the light agility of digits and the "clumsy" foot, serves to set the tone for the remainder of the piece. We suddenly see the dancer's body as an instrument that is capable of sweeping gestures and finely tuned moments of precision. This is exactly what Lionel proceeds to explore within the musicality of his body. A high caliber musician is able to produce a wide spectrum of sounds and tones from their instrument. Whether it is a staccato note or slurred sostenuto, a choreographer should also be able to translate this range into the movement...and in this regard, Lionel is a master.

DANCER SYNC: A dance solo is a special thing, it is a moment of solitary confession and vulnerability. Actors are asked to perform monologues at auditions so that the panel is able to see their range of internal character building and commitment. For a dancer, the solo SHOULD present the same opportunity for genuine, authentic exploration of the artist's inner workings, musings, and perspective. I think that this is one of the areas where Lionel is exceptionally successful. I have already mentioned his incorporation of various genres and styles, but the solo format in particular allows us to peek into his motivation. At the beginning, we see a powerful glance toward the camera, and in that moment, he reveals his soul as an individual who has seen the devastation in Japan firsthand. This single look, communicates waves of information and puts the rest of the piece into context. In this manner, Lionel creates a framework for the choreography to grow and expand on, leaving the audience to savor the perfect synchronization of body and authentic movement.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: The setting that Lionel chose to display his work is intriguing. We begin in a pagoda, suspended over an open sea. While beautiful, it is also bleak, desolate and stark. There is an air of empty, hollow hopelessness that hangs over the beginning scenes. As a viewer, this deserted landscape provides the perfect contrast to the beauty of Lionel's choreography. Similar to a solitary seedling that sprouts after the spring thaw, the choreo starts small and nuanced, and then gradually gains in range, tempo and intensity. This slow crescendo ramps up the viewer's interest from start to finish, never allowing for a lapse or lull in their attention.

KUDOS to Lionel for allowing such a personal, vulnerable look into his soul and subsequently creating a truly heartfelt tribute to the tsunami victims. Art has transformative power...and Lionel proves this abundantly.

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