Review: EUN-ME AHN COMPANY: DRAGONS, Barbican Centre

Wild, wonderful and slightly bonkers.

By: Sep. 21, 2023
Review: EUN-ME AHN COMPANY: DRAGONS, Barbican Centre

Review: EUN-ME AHN COMPANY: DRAGONS, Barbican Centre If burying the lede was an Olympic sport, Eun Me-Ahn’s Dragons would be in serious medal contention.

The South Korean choreographer’s latest work is conceptually based around the Millenium but was forged during the Covid era. After her company performed at the Indonesian dance festival, Ahn came up with the idea of working with a pan-Asian cast born in 2000, the year of the dragon. She selected dancers from Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan and had only just finished auditioning them when the pandemic hit. Rehearsals were done over video links as the rest of the show came together.

Ahn’s reputation for scale (having worked on global events like the opening ceremony for the 2002 Olympics) and innovation comes with expectations and, for much of the first quarter of an hour, one could be excused for wondering whether those expectations are warranted. Highly kinetic but artistically underwhelming modern dance is upstaged by innovative visuals: the stage is surrounded by giant silver slinkies hanging from the ceiling to the floor, all dancers wear long skirts regardless of their gender and visuals projected onto a screen frame the action.

There’s a distinct lack of human connection until a section which sees each of the young dancers tell us about themselves, their backgrounds and their ambitions in their native language (English translations are provided on the projection screen). From watching a troupe of very talented and highly buff but anonymous performers to engaging with them on a more personal level. 

From there, Dragons becomes a far more fun experience, in part thanks to Taeseok Lee’s expansive video design. Projection mapping is used very effectively to show the cast dancing next to their holographic equivalents or inside soap bubbles. A cinematic sequence shows them performing underwater, real bubbles emerging from between their clamped lips and CGI bubbles painted around them. Live physicality and computer graphics are blended to amazing effect.

There is much more than 2D wizardry to admire here. Young-Gyu Jang’s synth heavy soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment to this tech-savvy show. Ahn’s stage design and her clever use of voluminous and jazzy costuming combined with Jinyoung Jang’s precise lighting ensures that even solo performances fill up the large stage.

Ahn’s wild imagination is given full rein as the show progresses. Her choreography transitions from modern stylings to street dance-influenced segments and the energy pumps up noticeably. The slinkies alluded to in the early part of the show return with a vengeance later. Smaller versions are used as hand-sized Chinese finger traps or leggings before the dancers emerge covered head to foot in bendy silver material, human worm-like slinkies with video screens for faces. In terms of imaginative dance, Dragons is up there with Belgian company Peeping Tom who blew up the Barbican back in February.

This is a company that never loses sight of its roots and, for all the bonkers visuals, has more than enough substance to back up the style. Ultimately, this is a dazzling example of how talent, technology and not a little craziness can be meshed together into a thrilling whole.

Dragons runs at the Barbican Theatre from 20-23 Sept 2023 ( and The Lowry from 26-27 Sept (

Photo credit: Sukmu Yun

BroadwayWorld Awards Voting


Photos: First Look at EVITA at Leicesters Curve Theatre Photo
Photos: First Look at EVITA at Leicester's Curve Theatre

Leicester’s Curve theatre has shared all new production photos for its new Made at Curve production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, running 27 November 2023 to 13 January 2024. Check out the photos here!

Andrew Lloyd Webber Appeals to UK Government for Funding for Music in Secondary Schools Tr Photo
Andrew Lloyd Webber Appeals to UK Government for Funding for Music in Secondary Schools Trust

Andrew Lloyd Webber has written to Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, calling for public funding for the foundation Music in Secondary Schools Trust, which helps students in disadvantaged schools to access to quality music education.


Richard Schoch explores what daily life would have been like in the Shakespeare household and how the buildings that surrounded him have become hotspots. He describes how the unassuming residence on Henley Street was turned into a museum in the 19th century, long after the deaths of its original inhabitants, cementing the turn in the playwright’s popularity after the snub of the 1700s. We go from an initial indifference shown to the places that moulded the Bard of Avon to the frenzy of fake relics (uncountable people owned a a sample of “Shakespeare’s chair” in Victorian times, so many that it was regularly swapped for a new one to distribute). The book is jam-packed with facts and dates, but it flows well and it’s easy to follow - a delectable piece of microhistory and the perfect stocking filler for those who dabble in bardolatry. 

Sharon Osbourne - CUT THE CRAP Adds Extra West End Dates Photo
Sharon Osbourne - CUT THE CRAP Adds Extra West End Dates

MORE MRS O! 'Sharon Osbourne - CUT THE CRAP' adds extra West End dates due to overwhelming demand. Extra performances announced with live and uncensored interviews with surprise VIP guests from Sharon Osbourne's career. Fortune Theatre, West End, Sunday 28 January at 3pm & 6pm.

From This Author - Franco Milazzo

The Daily Beast were kind enough to call me "a man with an encyclopedic knowledge of the city’s underground culture" and who am I to disagree? If you have or know of a show which is pu... Franco Milazzo">(read more about this author)



Recommended For You