by Michael Zarathus-Cook
“Spatial characteristics such as narrow and winding alleys, the
smell of old iron, and their situation just before being kicked out of their lifelong workplaces, made us want to express more than
Photographs courtesy of LeTitle
An Emerging Dance Community in Seoul
It was through a fortuitous Instagram video that I discovered an emerging dance troupe in Seoul, called LeTitle. Their eclectic choreography—a mix of contemporary and street styles—is amplified by the dextrous cinematographic choreography in their videos. 2021 has been a prolific year for the group, participating in a variety of competitions, alongside a streamline of stand-alone projects. Behind this flurry of activity is a philosophy rooted in community: a shared sense of expression, ever-evolving and constantly negotiated. Joining smART Magazine en masse, LeTitle discusses their place in the spectrum between the local and global dance community.
How was Letitle founded and how do you define your mission as a community of dancemakers?
There are many genres in the Korean dance community, and most dancers work within the boundaries of their genre. But some of us are weirdos who enjoy crossing the fence. We were one of those weirdos, and we found each other while crossing fences.
At first, Letitle was just a lab. We shared each other's methods, techniques, and values while trying to blend it all in. Countless discord arose, but after several tries, we reached various consensus points and found a stem that binds us together. Through that, we've released some works to various communities, which they found unfamiliar but inspiring. So we founded Letitle to shout-out how fun and valuable it is to cross boundaries and to move forward with more people!
Where do you draw your inspirations from within the Seoul community?
Since each team member has a different field of interest and expression, inspiration comes from these different areas.
The Street Art community is the one that gives us the most inspiration these days. Getting out of theater, interacting with various spaces and audiences, inspired us more than we anticipated. In many cases, our pieces are performed on designated streets, squares, and public spaces in the form of festivals.
Unlike theaters, the street itself presents its own story and spatial characteristics. Just accepting various stimuli, and reacting spontaneously to them, has given us great inspiration.
The most memorable experience was the performance in a redevelopment area. In the center of Seoul, there is a district called Ipjeong-dong, where workshops that are more than 40 years old are concentrated. Since it is an old area in the center of the capital, it exists in a very strange harmony with nearby skyscrapers. Spatial characteristics such as narrow and winding alleys, the smell of old iron, and their situation just before being kicked out of their lifelong workplaces, made us want to express more than just dance.
The process of digging into the mental and physical intersection between contemporary dance and street dance is always inspiring. There is a consensus that we have to find in the metaphysical expression of contemporary dance and the intuitive expression of street dance; between the autonomy of contemporary dance and the musicality of street dance. We get ideas by participating and hosting events for both communities.
We think our mission is not only to use our strength to increase the number of people who enjoy crossing boundaries, but also to create an infrastructure for such people to interact, develop, and create in a safe environment.
Find this, and more, in the forthcoming print edition of Issue No.8.
In the meantime, checkout Issue No.7.
Issue No.7 features in-depth interview with artists and arts organizations across 10 cities.