• Delivering Fun Beyond the Language Barrier: Nonverbal Performances

        • 04/06/2022

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  •   Language is of critical importance in understanding a country’s culture, but there are still exceptions. Some things transcend nationality, race, cultural differences, and even language: senses and gestures. A nonverbal performance proves that communication is possible beyond language, and it can build even stronger connections with others. In the beginning, nonverbal performances progressed from pantomimes through dance and percussion. Since then, it has evolved to take on a variety of forms and contents unhindered by the conventional frames of performing arts to the delight of audiences worldwide.

      The prime example of a Korean nonverbal performance is definitely NANTA. A unique, combined performance where performers would literally chop up vegetables in a kitchen has taken not only Korea but also the world by storm. It also served as a watershed for performances with similar premises and motifs, which formed a new, growing genre of nonverbal performance. NANTA’s skillful combination of universal emotions with Korean elements established it as a very popular tourist activity for international visitors.

    NANTA

    A Classic in the History of Korean Nonverbal Performances

      Since its premiere in 1997 as the first nonverbal performance musical in Korea, NANTA toured 318 cities in 58 countries around the world until its peak Broadway appearance in 2003. At the time of its debut, conventional nonverbal performances focused on rhythm and beats to the detriment of its dramatic flow; NANTA was the first to successfully integrate dramatic elements into its performance, a revolutionary move that garnered 14 million visitors worldwide. Its popularity resulted in an appearance on the popular TV show Infinite Challenge and the bibimbap advertisement that played in Times Square. There are two theaters that run the performance onstage throughout the year, namely, Myeongdong and Jeju.

      Three cooks prepare to open the kitchen for the day. Their joyful work is interrupted when the manager enters the kitchen to inform them they are to prepare for a wedding party, which was not on the day’s schedule. What’s more, the menu is full of dishes that require multiple steps, such as stir-fried glass noodles (japchae), rice cakes coated with powdered soybeans (injeolmi), and a wedding cake. But failure is not an option, so the three cooks pick up the pace to prepare for the party.

      The onstage performance uses knives, cutting boards, and other cooking utensils found in the kitchen to bring the traditional rhythms of Korean Samullori Instrumental Music. The chance for the audience to partake onstage make each performance different from the one before. For instance, the audience members become the main characters in a traditional Korean wedding or compete in a dumpling-stacking game. The dynamic thump of the drum finale allows the audience to join in the rhythm.

    NANTA 1
    NANTA 2

    Information
    Genre
    Nonverbal performance musical
    Period
    October 10, 2009 (Saturday) - Opening
    Place
    Myeongdong NANTA Theater
    Jeju NANTA Theater
    Subtitles Provided
    -
    Age Limit
    For those 12 months and above
    Running Time
    90 min
    Date & Time
    Myeongdong - Saturday and Sunday 14:00
    Jeju - Every day 17:00, 20:00
    * Closed currently because of COVID-19, opening planned for the second half of the year
    Inquiries
    Naver, Interpark

    The Painters

    Painting the Greatest Works of Humanity in Dance

      This art performance brings a new concept of dance and mime, depicting the process and creation of an art piece. The group behind the performance, The Painters, gained recognition as a semifinalist in Asia’s Got Talent. They performed in 122 cities in 19 countries.

      Four painters appear on stage to put on 10 types of art performances, backed by excellent skills in both painting and miming. Artists are not the only ones that appear onstage: Michael Jackson, Jet Lee, and other childhood heroes come alive as drawings, fade into dust, and return again as dust drawings. The painters jump, shake, throw, and form a massive Korean painting on the four boards, while lights form to create images of stars in moonlight and lovers at a peaceful lake. Marbling techniques bring the underwater scene atop the water.

      Their moves during the Battle Drawing were uploaded on YouTube. The spectacle of the paintings drawn on a massive canvas as the painters race to complete them, coupled with majestic music, deft touches, and tricks, certainly brings new excitement. There’s even a time reserved for audience interactions.

    The Painters  1
    The Painters  2

    Information
    Genre
    Musical
    Period
    The Painters - Jongno November 1, 2013 (Friday) - Opening
    The Painters - Incheon April 9, 2022 (Saturday)
    The Painters Gaya – Gimhae July 1, 2021 (Tuesday) - Opening
    Place
    Jongno - The Seoul Cinema 5th Floor (* Closed currently because of COVID-19)
    Incheon - Namdong Sorae Art Hall
    Gimhae - Gimhae Gaya Theme Park
    Subtitles Provided
    -
    Age Limit
    Open to all
    Running Time
    80 min
    Date & Time
    Jongno - 19:00
    Incheon - Saturday 19:00
    Gimhae - Tuesday–Friday 14:00, Saturday and Sunday 13:30, 16:30
    Inquiries
    Interpark

    Taekwon Mumu Hon

    A Flowing Combination of Martial Arts and Korean Dance

      This performance is for those who want to experience the beauty of Korean martial arts and dance. It was officially invited to 105 cities in 15 countries around the world, including the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. If one recognizes the beautiful combination of acrobatic Taekwondo moves and the elegant grace of Korean dance, one can understand why this performance has garnered such acclaim. A permanent theater in Jeju runs this performance onstage throughout the year. However, visitors must make a reservation via telephone before attending.

      The plot follows Taegeuk, a warrior who founded the martial arts group Taegeukwon to defend the millennial kingdom of Tamna, and his fellow warriors fighting against the forces of evil. It blends Jeju’s local legends seamlessly with comedic and romantic sensibilities. Through the conflict between good and evil, the performance draws out the themes of inner peace and free will. It also uses the “Arirang,” a representative song for Korea, adding a deep resonance to its message.

      The performance combines Taekwondo moves with an acrobatic flair that is sure to astonish everyone, from budding martial artists learning Taekwondo to international visitors unfamiliar with the martial art. The high point of any Taekwondo demonstration is the board-breaking events, where practitioners leap beyond the height of an average adult to break the target in kicks. There’s even a time allotted for the audience members to practice their moves onstage, so don’t be shy to learn more about Korean martial arts.

    Taekwon Mumu Hon 1
    Taekwon Mumu Hon 2

    Information
    Genre
    Musical
    Period
    January 25, 2020 (Saturday) - Opening
    Place
    Jeju Arirang
    Subtitles Provided
    -
    Age Limit
    Open to all
    Running Time
    90 min
    Date & Time
    9:40, 11:00, 14:30
    Inquiries
    +82-63-787-2258
    • Musicals

      Taekwon Martial Arts Hon

      2020.01.25 ~

      A Flowing Combination of Martial Arts and Korean Dance

    • Musicals

      The Painters

      2013.11.01 ~

      Painting the Greatest Works of Humanity in Dance

    • Non-verbal

      NANTA (Myeongdong)

      2009.10.10 ~

      A Classic in the History of Korean Nonverbal Performances

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