Saved events

Digital Programme: Dragons

Two performers seem to be merged together while dancing on a stage. One looks like a hologram.

Find out more about the production and the creative team behind it in the digital programme.

Thank you for joining us at the Barbican Theatre for the UK premiere of Dragons, by one of South Korea’s most important avant-garde choreographers. We are delighted to welcome Eun-Me Ahn and her company to our stage for the first time, working alongside our partners at the Korean Cultural Centre UK, Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange, Gadja Productions and of course our UK associates, The Lowry in Salford.

Eun-Me Ahn first trained in traditional Korean dance before travelling to New York and embracing contemporary western practices, followed by regular collaborations and invitations to tour in Europe where she continued to develop her own distinctive kaleidoscopic style. Throughout her long career she has boldly challenged expectations through her approach and artistry; whether choreographing global events like the opening ceremony of the 2002 World Cup, or subverting the way that we perceive grandmothers, middle-aged men and teenagers in today’s society.

In Dragons, an exuberant celebration of music, colour and movement, Eun-Me Ahn takes inspiration from another generation. This time looking to the future, at the hyper-connected world that ‘Generation Z’ have already started to shape with their energy, optimism and innovation.

We hope you enjoy the show.

Toni Racklin,
Barbican Head of Theatre & Dance

It is a fantastic pleasure to be back in London and for the first time at the Barbican to present Dragons as part of the Korea-UK season. This work is very special to me, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to share it with British audiences.

This project started in 2018 when I was an Associate Artist of the Théâtre de la Ville – Paris. The programme had a focus on people born at the start of the new millennium and the theatre asked me to make a piece about young dancers. I had worked with teenagers in the past and started investigating ideas in Korea, but it was difficult to find a new and interesting angle. Then my company was invited to perform at the Indonesian Dance Festival in Jakarta, during which there was a pre-opening evening where dance schools and young choreographers presented their work. Among the performances, I was amazed with the freshness, the pureness and honesty of the dancers.

After the show, the idea for this new piece was clear to me: to invite young dancers from all over Asia to make a piece together.

But like everybody on the planet, the outbreak of the pandemic had us change our plans.

We discussed what to do: cancel the whole project or keep going? We decided to go on, no matter what. Creating this piece has without doubt been the most challenging of my career, rehearsing through video calls, each performer locked down in their respective country. It forced me to do things I had never done before, to use technologies I had never used before. And in the end, using the energy of all, from Seoul to Taiwan, Tokyo to Jogjakarta and Kuala Lumpur, we created something beautiful, supporting each other and sharing with one another.

In a way, Dragons was a ‘pandemic miracle’ as it would have been a completely different work otherwise. Even though a few years have passed, its message remains true in the hard times and world we are currently living in: ‘Never give up. We can overcome anything, but not alone. We can only do it together.’

Eun Me-Ahn
Artistic Director of Eun Me-Ahn Company 

Performers and creative team

On stage

Performer Eun-Me Ahn
Performer Hyekyoung Kim
Performer Jeeyeun Kim
Performer Haejin Yun
Performer Gaon Han
Performer Sunjae Jo
Performer Uiyoung Jung
Performer Deokyeong Kim

Performer Yongsik Moon

On screen

Performer Nur Syahidah Binti Hazmi (Malaysia)
Performer Akari Takahashi (Japan)
Performer Jinwon Jung (South Korea)
Performer Siko Setyanto (Indonesia)
Performer Dwi Nusa Aji Winarno (Indonesia)
Performer Guan Ting Zhou (Taiwan)

Creative team

Choreographer and Artistic Director Eun-Me Ahn
Music Young-Gyu Jang
Costume and Set Designer Eun-Me Ahn
Lighting Designer Jinyoung Jang
Video Designer Taeseok Lee
Motion Designers Taeseok Lee and Minjeong Lee (Addnine)
Creation Technical Director Jimyung Kim
Technical Crew Thomas Boudic, Yann Champelovier, Haesung Lee, Marc Perez, Alexandre Pluchino

Running time: 75 minutes. There is no interval

Age guidance: 8+ (contains strobe lighting and sudden light changes)

Performed in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian with English surtitles

Presented by the Barbican

In association with the Lowry

An Eun-Me Ahn Company and Gadja Productions’ production

Co-produced by Yeongdeungpo Cultural Foundation, Busan Cultural Center, Théâtre de la Ville – Paris, Biennale de la Danse de Lyon, Festspielhaus St. Pölten, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Les Halles de Schaerbeek, National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts – Weiwuying.

With the kind support of: Arts Council Korea, Indonesian Dance Festival, ASWARA – Akademi Seni Budaya Dan Warisan Kebangsaan, Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse N°1

On tour with the support of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange, Korean Cultural Centre UK and KAMS – Center Stage Korea


Images by Sukmu Yun

New ways of dancing — an interview with Eun-Me Ahn

Before 2000, when the West seemed to recognise the economic powers of Asia including South Korea ‘tiger states’ or ‘dragon states’ (economies) were regarded with a mix of admiration and fear. Western legends give us a negative perception of the dragon, but in Asia this is quite different, isn’t it?

Indeed, for us the dragon embodies a sacred and spiritual energy. They are composite animals, created by a higher will, and therefore almost multicultural creatures. Dragons embody power, longevity and protection. Previously, their symbolic power was reserved for kings but today we are free to imagine them however we want. The title of our production wants to explain that we have the power to decide for ourselves our lives and our futures.

The idea that we can control our destiny embodies perfectly the spirit of this work. Dragons was born in the midst of Covid-19 and, due to the pandemic, the young dancers you selected from five different Asian countries were unable to join you in Seoul for the performance. They are instead present in the form of holographic projections, while the permanent dancers of your company dance live.

To choose these young people, all born in 2000, me and the dancers in my company went  to Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. We wanted to understand how they live and see the world: how are their studies going; how do they watch a show? Then the pandemic happened. We had to cancel our trips to Vietnam and Taiwan and continued working with video for the auditions as well as for the creation.

These performers are of Generation Z for whom the internet and the smartphone are very normal. Yet creating choreography is an old concept which relies on presence. Suddenly you had to rely on the small screen. Dragons is deeply influenced by the pandemic.

This generation was suddenly confined by lockdown just as they became adults.

They live in great instability but are open to a lot of things. Dragons opened me up to other ways of thinking about stage presence, whereas before I was not interested in technology. We have learned and invented a lot. For example, it is not easy to create a dance in front of a webcam when right and left are reversed so, to make things more intuitive, we all danced with a glove on our right hand!

Did you consider after the pandemic having the young dancers join you live and on stage?

I think we’ll do a new piece with them instead. When they have finished their university studies and are fully free and older, we want to find them and maybe work on the possibility of overcoming the memories of the pandemic, which is quite dark for them. It will be interesting to keep Dragons in the repertoire as it is, as a testimony to the particular conditions of its creation.

With its inherent vitality and optimism, Dragons is exactly what audiences need to see right now!

This is exactly what we told each other when we had finished the work. These young dancers come from very different religions, political situations and economic conditions, but all of them have traditional dance practice. Each created a gesture and transmitted it to the others, which formed a universal language nourished by their respective cultures. Because only together can we overcome the current challenges!

Interview by Thomas Hahn for the Théâtre de la Ville – Paris programme, used by kind permission


Eun-Me Ahn

A leading artist in the Korean performing arts scene, Eun-Me Ahn was born in 1963. Interested in traditional dance and shamanistic practices, she studied contemporary dance at Ehwa Womans University in Seoul. She founded Eun-Me Ahn Company in 1988 before moving to New York in 1991 to study at the Tisch School of the Arts. In 2001 she returned to Korea as director of Daegu City Dance Company, with 45 dancers, where she created some major works such as The Little Match Girl and Skypepper. She continued her choreographic and performance practice revisiting classics from her country (Princess Bari, Chunyang) or investigating social issues, working with non-professional older people (Dancing Grandmothers, Dancing Teenteen, Dancing Middle-Aged Men) and people with disabilities (with Ahnsim Dance and Daeshim Dance). With over 150 pieces in her repertoire, Eun-Me Ahn has been developing a unique language, with positive energy and colours as her trademark. She has achieved international recognition with emblematic productions such as Symphoca Princess Bari, Let Me Change Your Name, Dancing Grandmothers or North Korea Dance that have been presented on the most prestigious stages around the world .

Hyekyoung Kim

Hyekyoung Kim started dancing in her high school dance club and fell in love with movement. She studied modern dance and Korean traditional dance. After graduating in modern dance at Sungkyunkwan University in 2008, she joined Eun-Me Ahn Company. She participated in a workshop with Gilles Jobin (2008), a choreographer based in Switzerland, which led to an interest in other international experiences. She worked with the Royal Opera House’s ROH2 in 2011 and Cie Linga Company in Switzerland from 2009 to 2018, and was invited to the audition and research programs with Belgium’s Ultima Vez in 2011 as well as further work with Gilles Jobin. She has continued to work with the Eun-Me Ahn Company for the past 15 years, participating in group projects or workshops and moving between Korea and Switzerland. She has been choreographing and directing her own projects since 2012.

Jeeyeun Kim

Jeeyeun Kim started to learn ballet when she was six years old. She majored in Korean traditional dance after seeing it performed. Following graduation from Gugak National High School in 2005, she went on to achieve a bachelor’s degree in 2009 and a master’s degree in 2019 from the Department of Korean Traditional Arts at the Korea National University of Arts. From 2009 to 2012, she was a dancer with Gyeonggi Provincial Dance Company. She has worked as a dancer at Eun-Me Ahn Company since 2018.

Haejin Yun

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Haejin Yun was trained in Korean traditional dance as well as modern and contemporary dance. She graduated from Korea National University of Arts in 2020. She is a performer, teacher and choreographer, and for many years she has worked as a freelance dancer gaining significant performing experience by collaborating with various contemporary choreographers. In 2023, Eun-Me Ahn created a piece for the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company where Haejin Yun was dancing and invited her to join the company.

Gaon Han

Born in South Korea, Gaon Han began his dance education in contemporary dance at the Peniel Arts High School in 2014. He later graduated from Sejong University, one of the prestigious arts universities located in Seoul. Working initially with Tatmaroo Dance Company, he has been pursuing his dance career by working with various choreographers. He has been a member of Eun-Me Ahn Company since 2023.

Sunjae Jo

Sunjae Jo was born in South Korea and started dancing in 2011, beginning with street dance before learning modern dance at Gyewon Arts High School, from which he graduated in 2017. Following this, he joined the dance department of Sungkyunkwan University and trained in modern and contemporary dance, working with a number of choreographers. After graduating in 2021, he met Eun-Me Ahn as a dancer and is still working with the company.

Uiyoung Jung

Born in South Korea, Uiyoung Jung began b-boying when he was 15. He continued his career by participating in numerous events and competitions. From the age of 19 he became interested in modern dance. In 2021, at the age of 29, he met Eun-Me Ahn and has since toured with the company numerous times and is living the dream.

Deokyeong Kim

Born in Korea, Deokyeong Kim learned contemporary dance at Peniel High School of Arts in 2013. He graduated from Kyung Hee University in Seoul with a major in contemporary dance. Since then, he has worked in a freelance capacity in Seoul, appearing in various performances. He has worked with Eun-Me Ahn Company since 2022.

Yongsik Moon

Born in South Korea, Yongsik Moon began his dance education in contemporary dance at the Peniel Arts High School in 2009. He later graduated from Chung-Ang University, one of Seoul’s prestigious arts universities. He has lived in Seoul for 11 years and worked as a freelancer, participating in various contemporary dance performances, musicals and operas as both a dancer and ensemble member, accumulating experience both in these roles and as an instructor. He has been a member of the Eun-Me Ahn Company since 2022. In addition to his performing career, he also lectured at an arts high school for three years.

For the Barbican

Barbican Centre Board
Tom Sleigh
Deputy Chair
Sir William Russell
Deputy Chair
Tobi Ruth Adebekun

Board Members
Randall Anderson, Munsur Ali, Stephen Bediako OBE, Farmida Bi CBE, Tijs Broeke, Zulum Elumogo, Wendy Mead OBE, Mark Page, Alpa Raja, Jens Riegelsberger, Jane Roscoe, Irem Yerdelen, Despina Tsatsas, Michael Asante MBE

Clerk to the Board
Kate Doidge and Ben Dunleavy

Barbican Centre Trust
Farmida Bi CBE
Vice Chair
Robert Glick OBE

Tom Bloxham MBE, Stephanie Camu, Tony Chambers, Cas Donald, David Kapur, Ann Kenrick, Kendall Langford, Sir William Russell, Tom Sleigh, Claire Spencer AM, Sian Westerman

Chief Executive Officer
Claire Spencer
Artistic Director
Will Gompertz
Director of Development
Natasha Harris
Director of People, Inclusion and Culture
Ali Mirza
Head of Finance & Business Administration
Sarah Wall
Senior Executive Assistant to Claire Spencer and Will Gompertz
Jo Daly

Theatre Department
Head of Theatre and Dance
Toni Racklin
Senior Production Manager
Simon Bourne
Liz Eddy, Jill Shelley, Fiona Stewart
Assistant Producers
Saxon Mudge, Mali Siloko, Bridget Thornborrow
Production Managers
Jamie Maisey, Lee Tasker
Technical Managers
Steve Daly, Jane Dickerson, Nik Kennedy, Martin Morgan, Stevie Porter
Stage Managers
Lucinda Hamlin, Charlotte Oliver
Technical Supervisors
James Breedon, John Gilroy, Jamie Massey, Matt Nelson, Adam Parrott, Lawrence Sills, Chris Wilby
PA to Head of Theatre
David Green

Production Administrator
Caroline Hall
Production Assistant
Michaela Harcegová
Kendell Foster, Burcham Johnson, David Kennard, Bartek Kuta, Christian Lyons, Josh Massey, Fred Riding
Stage Door
Julian Fox, aLbi Gravener

Creative Collaboration and Learning
Head of Creative Collaboration
Karena Johnson
Lauren Brown
Assistant Producer
Rikky Onefeli

Marketing Department
Head of Marketing 
Jackie Ellis 
Deputy Head of Marketing
Ben Jefferies
Marketing Manager
Kyle Bradshaw
Marketing Assistant
Rebecca Moore

Communications Department
Head of Communications
James Tringham
Senior Communications Manager
Ariane Oiticica
Communications Manager
Communications Assistant
Sumayyah Sheikh

Audience Experience
Deputy Head of Audience Experience & Operations
Sheree Miller
Ticket Sales Managers
Lucy Allen, Oliver Robinson, Ben Skinner, Jane Thomas
Operations Managers
Seán Carter,  Rob Norris, Elizabeth Davies-Sadd, Samantha Teatheredge, Hayley Zwolinska
Operations Manager (Health & Safety)
Mo Reideman
Audience Event & Planning Manager
Freda Pouflis
Venue Managers
Scott Davies, Tilly Devine, Tabitha Goble, Nicola Lake, Maria Pateli

Assistant Venue Managers
Rhiannon Brennan, Melissa Olcese, Daniel Young
Crew Management
Dave Magwood, Rob Magwood, James Towell
Access and Licensing Manager
Rebecca Oliver
Security Operations Manager
Naqash Sheikh

Six performers stnad in pose wearing silver dresses and lock pink socks.

With thanks

The Barbican is London's creative catalyst for arts, curiosity and enterprise. We spark creative possibilities and transformation for artists, audiences and communities – to inspire, connect, and provoke debate. 

We're committed to making a difference locally, nationally and internationally by showcasing some of the most inspiring and visionary work by artists and communities. We're not-for-profit. Each year we need to raise 65% of our income through fundraising, ticket sales, and commercial activities. Our supporters play a vital role in keeping our programme accessible to everyone, which includes our work with local schools; development opportunities for emerging creatives; and access to discounted and subsided tickets. 

Barbican supporters enjoy behind the scenes access across the centre and see first-hand what their gift enables through enhanced priority booking, as well as access to tickets for sold-out performances and exclusive events. For more information please visit or contact [email protected].


With thanks...

Founder and principal funder
The City of London Corporation

Major Supporters
Arts Council England
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art
SHM Foundation
Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement
The Terra Foundation for American Art

Leading Supporters
Trevor Fenwick and Jane Hindley
Marcus Margulies

Programme Supporters
Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (Spirit Now London)
Sayeh Ghanbari
Goodman Gallery
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
Elizabeth and J Jeffry Louis
Pat and Pierre Maugüé 
Hugh Monk
Romilly Walton Masters Award
Jack Shainman Gallery
The Rudge Shipley Charitable Trust

Director’s Circle
Anonymous (1)
James and Louise Arnell
Farmida Bi CBE
Jo and Tom Bloxham MBE
Philippe and Stephanie Camu
Cas Donald
Alex and Elena Gerko
Trevor Fenwick and Jane Hindley
Sian and Matthew Westerman

Corporate Supporters
Bank of America
Bolt Burdon Kemp
Google Arts & Culture
Linklaters LLP
Norton Rose Fulbright
Osborne Clarke
Pinsent Masons
Standard Chartered
Slaughter and May
Vestiaire Collective

Trusts & Grantmakers
The Austin and Hope Pilkington Charitable Trust
Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne
Art Fund
Bagri Foundation
CHK Foundation
Cockayne – Grants for the Arts
Fluxus Art Projects
John S Cohen Foundation
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Goethe-Institut London
Helen Frankenthaler Foundation
High Commission of Canada in The United Kingdom
Italian Cultural Institute in London
Korean Cultural Centre UK
Kusuma Trust UK
London Community Foundation
Mactaggart Third Fund
Maria Björnson Memorial Fund
Peter Sowerby Foundation
The Polonsky Foundation
Rix-Thompson-Rothenberg Foundation
SAHA Association
Swiss Cultural Fund
U.S. Embassy London

We also want to thank the Barbican Patrons, members, and the many thousands who made a donation when purchasing tickets. 

The Barbican Centre Trust Ltd, registered charity no. 294282