Review, Eun-Me Ahn’s Dragons, Barbican Centre, London by James Ellis

Photo credit: Sukmu Yun

 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

In my first dance piece seen at the Barbican Theatre, we had a brief yet envigouring stint. Choreographer Eun-Me Ahn has taken under her wing emerging dancers from all over Asia. It’s very humbling and touching to see her support for artists who are at the starting point of their careers, their talents taken flight both in tour and nationally.

Though the show about halfway through halts to introduce some of the dancers (name, country of origin and why choose dance?), we get to know them a bit better, breaking down assumed barriers. Other dancers on screens appear blurred and compressed, though we would later realise that these were the ones who could not make it, Covid playing it’s part to dampen ambition.

The work itself started off strong, strange and wonderful usage of grey ventilation ducting. These might just be our dragons in question, no? These pipes are treated with a fluid creativity, a total highlight. They adorn costumes, make speakers for a makeshift stereo, they cover the stage from floor to rafters and evoke much rope play. The dances meld somewhere between traditional and the experimental. The humour shone through for many smile evoking moments, usually from Ahn herself or a colourful costume wowing in absurd styling.

The heavy use of screens for the moments without absent dancers had less charm. At times, lucious, in other moments it remained a bit tacky. Some underwater scenes were eye candy and some of the effects fusing live dancer and the imagery on screen could work. The show was a little too long, I think it could have been a solid hour. A queer vain glided through as well, something I lapped up with cross dressing and those glorious, golden shortS which I’ll never forget.

The dances may have been mixed with glides, near performance art, returns to traditional elements of the art and whacky contemporary elements. It might not have always glued together, but it is very sweet to see talented artists flourishing in their prime. Consider me a fan.

Dragons continues to The Lowry, Salford. 

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