Traditional Korean Dance

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Traditional Korean Dance
Heoak Lee
“Imperial Jewel”
Traditional Korean Dance Group

Traditional Korean Dance
originated in ancient shamanistic rituals thousands of years ago  benefited from regular support of: 
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royal court numerous academies an official ministry of the government

Traditional Korean Dance in the Occupied Korea (1910-1945)

Due to cultural suppression by Japan during the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula (1910-1945), most dance academies died out and some dances were lost. A few pioneering Korean dancers such as Choi Seung-hee (최승희 崔承喜 1911-1969) created new forms of Korean dance based on traditional dances and kept many of the traditions alive in secret.

Traditional Korean Dance Today
   

Traditional Korean dance is enjoying a vibrant resurgence. Numerous universities in Korea teach Korean traditional dance. Some universities abroad now provide instruction in the forms. Top dancers are recognized as "Living National Treasures" and are charged to pass their dances down to their students. The lineages of dance and dancers are now traceable back several generations.

Current Styles of Dance in Korea (1)

In modern Korea, there are at least six different kinds of dance: –

Court, Folk, Shamanistic, Confucian, Buddhist, Modern concert dance

Today, these classifications usually refer to the style of dance rather than the occupation, class, or religion of the dancers. National dance academies teach these forms.

Current Styles of Dance in Korea (2)

Dances and dance styles formerly restricted to royal audiences (the court) have become Korean classical dances. They are performed regularly in public concerts. In conversation, Koreans classify their dances into four types: court, folk, sacred, and modern concert dance.

Movements of Traditional Korean Dance

Many uniquely Korean gestures and body movements characterize all traditional Korean dances. These characteristics include: –

the sliding each foot forward on the floor to end in an upturning of the toes (echoing the shape of the dancers’ slippers) the lifting and lowering of the shoulders.

Differences in Traditional Korean Dance

Korean dance classifications are distinguished by style, content and where they were historically performed. Both types are currently performed at celebrations and festivals. Korean classical court dances –

Tend to be slow in tempo, dignified and refined. They were performed by professional dancers at the palace for the king, queen and their guests. Are lively and earthy. They were performed by regular citizens to express emotions at different times (good harvests, weddings, funerals).

In contrast, Korean folk dances
– –

Types of Ritual/Folk Korean Dance

Fan Dance (ritual dance / folk dance)

   

Salpuri (ritual dance / folk dance)
Kanggangsuwollae (folk dance)

Mask Dance (folk dance)
Sword Dance (folk dance) Drum Dance (folk dance)

Fan Dance
   

The fan dance is one of the most popular traditional folk dances of Korea. It is a relatively modern dance developed in the 18th century using the fan, a prop used in shaman rituals. Apart from their decorative and everyday functions, fans are thought to expel evil and bring prosperity. The grace of the music combined with the colorful costumes and shifting geometrical designs lead the audience to believe that they are surrounded by a garden of flowers.

Salpuri (Shaman Ceremonial Dance)

 

A traditional folk dance. Said to have originated from the shaman’s dance to exorcise evil spirits and bad luck. A solo dancer dressed in white dances with a long white handkerchief to the distinctive salpuri rhythm from the southwestern regions of Korea. The distinctive up-and-down movement from the dancer’s heel firmly grounded with the toes up carries through the body to the shoulders and rises and falls...
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