Dressed in gold-and-black ruffled dresses—an homage to the long, ruffled traditional flamenco dresses—and tall, laced-up, black boots, All Ready began its performance sitting in two chairs at the center of the stage in Calderwood Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (ISG).
With a bright spotlight centering on them, Salang Yang and Hyein Kang danced in circles, stomping and clapping their hands in flamenco style, while also incorporating their hip-hop background to add a modern twist to the choreography.
On Thursday, South Korean dance duo All Ready debuted original choreography in striking, stylish costumes, bringing a taste of their unique fusion dance style to Boston.
All Ready gained worldwide attention while participating in Season Three of the NBC hit show World of Dance in 2019, where it made it to the third stage of the competition, “The Cut.” The duo currently serves as the choreographers-in-residence at the ISG.
Specializing in Latin and street dancing, All Ready encapsulates the spirit of collaboration in its own dance style as well, combining many different genres of dance and sources of inspiration to create its own identity. Their performance brings three original pieces created specifically for the museum as the culmination of their year-long collaboration with the ISG.
The performances, El Jaleo, Life of Isabella, and All Ready Festival, were specifically created for the ISG, taking inspiration from the extensive exhibits and collections, as well as from the life and spirit of the museum’s founder and namesake, Isabella Stewart Gardner.
El Jaleo is inspired by the painting of the same name, often considered to be painter John Singer Sargent’s most famous work. Sargent was also the first artist-in-residence at the ISG, bringing even more significance to the piece and its connection with All Ready, which is continuing the tradition of residency 116 years after Sargent.
The subject of the painting is a Gypsy Spanish flamenco dancer, and All Ready’s piece fully embraces the dance style. Featuring different flamenco-inspired scores mixed by Korean DJ Donghyun, including flamenco records gifted to Gardner by Sargent, All Ready delivered a new take on flamenco.
The first part of the number showcased a high-energy, almost frantic score, and the dancers accordingly danced in fast-paced unison, displaying their impeccable footwork, only stopping when the music paused, creating dramatic tension in the piece.
The music then transitioned to a slower melody, and the background lighting turned from an intense red to just a simple white spotlight, as Kang fell to the floor, rolling while Yang sashayed around her.
The final part of the piece returned to a fast tempo, with Yang jumping on the table set up onstage, performing a short flamenco solo while Kang clapped her hands to the beat. Kang then picked up two fans and commenced her own solo, emphatically stomping in a square spotlight while Yang played the support.
The two wrapped up the piece in a flourish of drama, as each opened a flamenco fan and danced passionately to the delight of the audience.
Life of Isabella pays tribute to the colorful life of Gardner and her appreciation of different cultures. A heavily Latin inspired piece, the music also evokes the connection between cultures, using Latin music with Afro-Carribean roots.
Bursting onstage in shiny, white, sleeveless suit jackets and pants with a bright blue fringe, All Ready danced flawlessly as a pair, weaving between each other’s arms in their partnerwork.
Not afraid to break it down, Yang and Kang also demonstrated their hip-hop mastery in between smooth Latin dancing, popping and locking to the energetic beat.
All Ready Festival celebrates everything All Ready represents: a willingness to explore and unite different cultures, a spirit very much in tune with Gardner and her openness to surprise.
An eclectic piece featuring songs from many different genres—including the track “Lonely” by Akon, which is often used in Vines and TikToks—All Ready Festival showcases their wide breadth of inspiration. All Ready came onstage in a delightful sleeveless suit and pants combo for the routine, this time featuring hot pink and a black-and-white checked print.
Starting off the piece from a corner of the room as partners, Yang and Kang snapped and jazz walked their way to the center stage with natural swagger in their steps. The routine, heavily comedic and upbeat, again showed the duo’s proficiency in multiple different dance styles that it managed to merge into its own.
Yang and Kang are as much showmen as they are dancers—their facial expressions added life to their choreography. Never in the same expression for more than a beat, the two women brought forth a complete performance, with no part of their bodies neglected.
Beyond just the technical prowess of its choreography, the amount of personality All Ready injected into its performance makes it hard not to love. When they are dancing, Yang and Kang are truly giving audiences an immersive and complete experience, where they share their joy and passion for dance through their natural character and charisma.
Bright and energetic, their performances lightened up the mood and reminded audiences of a curiosity for life, echoed both by Gardner and the dancers of All Ready.
Featured Image by Stephanie Liu / Heights Editor