Works In Progress
Hyeyung Sol Yoon (creator and performer)
Uhmuhni is a narrative through music, images, and words and is inspired by a Korean mother who wrote a letter to her dead 10-month-old daughter in 1795.* It was a common practice in Korea during that time to have a close family member write a letter addressed to a deceased person to be read publicly at a funeral. For women, the reading was often the only public account of their lives. Despite living in a society marked by deep patriarchy, the mother chose to write the letter in literary Chinese, often reserved to be used by men in official matters. By acknowledging her sorrow and placing importance on the deceased baby’s life by writing and reading the letter in a public setting, she was also, in a way, proclaiming the importance of her own life. The work will traverse the landscapes of Korea in the 1790s, post-war Korea, and the U.S., specifically Queens, NYC, and North Carolina, places Hyeyung grew up as an immigrant. Although this letter was written more than 200 years ago, it speaks deeply to her own experiences and experiences of many Asian women immigrants. She recognizes the similarity between this mother’s fighting spirit and the spirit of the women in her family and herself trying to navigate a white patriarchal society. Hyeyung will explore the mother’s letter to her deceased baby girl and how it connects to the experiences of generations of Asian women immigrants in the U.S.
*Written by Kim Samuidang and translated into English by Jahyun Kim Haboush in Epistolary Korea: Letters in the Communicative Space of The Choson, 1392-1910
GEORGE/MICHAEL (WORKING TITLE)
Hyeyung Sol Yoon (music)
Asher Hartman (co-director)
“George/Michael” (working title) explores the embodied legacies of ballet and butoh dance in the real and imagined lives of its lead performers, George de la Peña and Michael Sakamoto. Conceived as a “subjective documentary” blending memoir, history, and fiction, this dance theater project traces connections between wildly diverse inspirations, such as ballet legend Vaslav Nijinsky (portrayed by de la Peña in the Hollywood film, Nijinsky), butoh creator Hijikata Tatsumi, exotic oriental fantasies in modern ballet, and fetishism around French literature and the body in early butoh. Sakamoto and de la Peña also reflect on paradoxes within their contemporary dance identities: what it means to be a male artist in the era of #metoo, queer politics, and racial reckoning with white supremacy, while maintaining dance’s potential to enliven and transform.