gdeo 2007-2008
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  voilà ! 2005-2008
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  2 men & 1 cello 2003
  madame monsieur 2002
  2 men & 1 cello 2002
  madame monsieur 2000
  2 men & 1 cello 1999-01
  madame monsieur 1998

GDEO - Press

04.06.2008 BASLER ZEITUNG (The editor's recommendation of the day: Between East and Asia)

(...) Unifying force. As their meeting did not only flow smoothly and at times resulted in a collision of their different concepts of life and art, they termed their personal cultural mess "Gdeo". Gdeo is a Korean expression meaning "Yes, yes, I think so, too", but in fact it covers the whole gamut from explicit affirmation to diplomatically phrased refusal. The production not only places the thoroughly Korean opposite the prototypically Swiss, but also ballet side by side with contemporary dance, and the established cultural scene versus the 'off' scene. Each of them shows himself and his own with a lot of commitment and self-mockery. In the end, the two join in a pas de deux: personal, unifying different cultures and nations, likeable and with virtuosity.

29.05.2008 BASELLANDSCHAFTLICHE ZEITUNG (Ursula Haas: Dance around the ball of various memories)

(...) The fulminant scene at the outset establishes a high pace: first, a kind of showmaster - brilliantly played by Yunjin Kwon - makes her entrance with a microphone. She acts as the hip Korean and incites the audience to clap and laugh. And in spite of speaking Korean, she manages to cross the cultural border effortlessly and as well as getting a response from the audience. The Karaoke interlude, too, manages to go beyond (cultural) barriers: songs from both countries are being played and set to visuals, Switzerland excels with cows and politicians, Korea presents smiling women and flowers. The two dancers battle for the microphone, each of them wants to sing their own and the other one's culture out loud. These cliches are funny, comprehensible and they provoke laughter from the public. The stance that the two dancers take up on Béjart is clear: while the projection with his head appears, there is a choir singing almost reverentially in the backdrop. A dance school as a common cultural background, dancing as a communicator across borders.

29.05.2008 BADISCHE ZEITUNG (Annette Mahro: Not understanding the penguin)

(...) Do you speak Korean? You don't? And you don't understand penguins either? Nevertheless, communication is possible, says 'Gdeo'. Within limits, though. The four letters that seem to be an abbreviation denote a dance project on occasion of the Swiss-Korean Culture Week. On Tuesday, its Swiss premiere took place at Theater Roxy in Birsfelden/Basel. While Jeon sports a blow-dried hairdo, rimless spectacles and casual elegance, Europe wears shorts and printed T-shirts. But it's less the outfit itself that is overly important (Korean Bo-wha Song was responsible for costuming), more the movement in it. Jeon hails from classical ballet, Olza is clearly influenced by Modern Dance. The Swiss entraps himself in more and more absurd rotations, as his partner watches in increasing amazement. The seeming comprehension of the 'Gdeo-yes, yes-phrase' starts to disintegrate with each additional expectation from one side to the other. Jeon suddenly appears in the guise of a penguin and the penguin becomes the symbol for this not-understanding. Later Olza will wear the same mask. Don't they share a lot with us, these animals? Or isn't there anything in common at all between them and us?

22.05.2008 BASLER ZEITUNG (Nathalie Baumann: Collision of cultures)

(...) The 'cultural mess' of two friends (dancers whose paths separated 20 years ago) is at the heart of the Swiss-Korean Culture month in Basel. A biographical dance theatre at Roxy. Imagine your best friend dragging you to a party, catering for you with champagne and salmon hors d'oeuvres, winking and then leaving you in a dim corner. Soon, somebody approaches and says: "Nice party, isn't it?" In Korea, you would probably answer "Gdeo" (or "Kurejo" or "Gurejoo"), meaning something like "Yes, yes, I think so, too" and covering the whole gamut from explicit affirmation to diplomatically phrased refusal.

05.09.2007 HERALD TRIBUNE JoongAng Daily Seoul (Hannah Bae: A dance to the music of different countries)

(...) Earlier this year Swiss modern dancer Philippe Olza received a surprising invitation to come to Korea from his former colleague, Korean ballet dancer James Jeon. Nearly 25 years had passed since the two dancers last met. They were much more limber when they originally danced together in Maurice Béjart's "20th Century Ballet". "After such a long time, it's like you're discovering some one in a different context," Olza said. Jeon had since risen in the Korean ballet world to become the resident choreographer of the Seoul Ballet Theatre, while Olza left ballet altogether in favor of more experimental side of dance. "If you could graph our careers, James has gone like this," Olza said, shooting his arm up diagonally through the air. "He developed as a soloist at a renowned ballet company and became a principal. "Mine was more like this," he said, wiggling his arm in the shape of a sinusoidal wave. "My career didn't develop logically. There was my ballet period, then I quite dance. I was working as an actor, then I started working on some very different projects. I was an opera singer, then a choreographer, and then I started to dance again in the last four or five years." Despite their differences, when they reunited the two dancers discovered a mutual desire to collaborate. "The wish was immediately there, from both sides, "Olza. Thus, the "GDEO project" was born.

The title GDEO is the rough Romanization of the Korean expression "Geuraeyo," which more or less means "That is so". The piece's title is meant to straddle Korean and European cultures; likewise, the entire theme of the performance is about the exchange that takes place between two people of different cultures. While Olza maintains that the GDEO project is not exactly autobiographical, some elements of his reunion with Jeon shine through. "The project is about meeting again after many years," Olza said. "The dancers' discovery shows the difference between those two persons. Jeon is Asian, for example, and I am European. You initially see the distance because of the years that have passed." At the start of the piece, which toured throughout Korea this summer, each dancer nonverbally introduces himself to the crowd. While Olza confines his movements to restrained, off-rhythm bending of his limbs, Jeon exhibits the wide, flowing gestures characteristic of ballet. But once the pair establishes themselves in relation to each other, they begin to collaborate by using a manual pump to fill a large ball with air. "When the ball becomes full, it represents the world which unites us despite our differences," Olza said, emphasizing the blend of Eat and West in the GDEO project. "We mixed many styles, such arts movements, ballet and contemporary gymnastics." He also pointed out the music that accompanies the dancing. In one movement plucking sounds reminiscent of the "kayageum", a traditional Korean stringed instrument, dominate, but they fall away later as the melody of a Swiss folk song takes over. "The composer, Hans Koch, created this music by taking pieces in the same tempo from both countries and mixing them together," Olza said. In addition to working with each other, Olza and Jeon involved organizations from their respective countries. Seoul Ballet Theatre, the premiere ballet company in Korea, co produced the GDEO project. The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the European arts organization Migros Kulturprozent also sponsored the piece in an effort to encourage exchange and participation in the developing arts community in Korea. Both the Swiss and Korean governments promoted performances of the GDEO project on its Korean tour. Jeon and Olza performed the piece as a work in progress at Seoul's Kangdong Theatre, the Seoul Korea Performance Art Spirit and the Mokpo Maritime Cultural Festival this past July. Following these performances, Jeon and Olza tweaked their piece. Then in August, they performed a more refined version at the Mokpo Mandangkuk Top Festival, the Busan International Beach Dance Festival, the Choon-Chun dance Festival, the Gwacheon Hanmadang Festival and the Daejeon Culture and Arts Center.

"It's interesting that while contemporary dance performances draw only a small audience in Europe, at these festivals in Korea, we were dancing for thousands of people," Olza said. "It was quite an interesting cultural phenomenon." Despite the completion of the GDEO project, Olza and Jeon are far from ready to separate. Rehearsals of the piece will continue through 2008 in both Korea and Switzerland. The artists plan to incorporate more visual elements into their current barebones set, as well as adding filmed segments and dialogue. The GDEO project's Swiss premiere is slated for next summer at the Theater Roxy, Birsfelden in Basel, followed by a European tour.
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