Hanna Kiel is from Seoul, South Korea. After leaving South Korea in 1996, Hanna spent time in Vancouver presenting her work at festivals and theatres, and then moved to Toronto in 2008. She is the artistic director of Human Body Expression and one of the founders of The Garage, a dance development and exchange collective.
In March, DanceWorks will present the world premiere of Hanna’s Chasing the Path, a work that investigates the beauty and pain of memory. Here we talk to Hanna about her inspiration for this highly personal work.
Can you talk about the significance of the title Chasing the Path?
The impetus for this project occurred in 2015, when I returned home to Korea to support my father’s recovery from major surgery. One day, I was going through my grandmother’s bedroom filled with clothing and books (she had passed away years before). I touched a family memento and felt my chest sink with a heavy sadness. I felt the memories of sharing a bedroom with my grandmother and the emotional abuse she inflicted upon me as a child.
This painful memory had been blocked and without warning, it appeared. I realized it never left. That evening, for the first time, I shared this memory with my father. My father’s perception was vastly different as he remembered his mother as loving and generous, not a cold, cruel person with no love for her grandchildren.
This was the catalyst for my fascination with memory and the basis of this creative investigation. My investigation into memory feels like searching for answers in my past and personal history.
In Chasing the Path, you tap into your experience of loss and ask how we move into the present while still feeling pain from the past. Through your creative process, what have you discovered regarding this past/present challenge?
My father shortly passed away after my visiting. With his death and my investigation I learned that even with beautiful memories you can still feel pain. Memory can act as a reminder that a loved one is no longer with you.
Working on this piece was also somewhat therapeutic. It takes courage to recognize that the pain exists and is a part of me. I have learned to observe and accept these memories rather than be saddened or hurt by them. I also understand some of these memories will fade away and that is okay too.
Thank you for sharing, Hanna.
Here is more information about Chasing the Path and below is a video excerpt of the rehearsal process with Human Body Expression.