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Korea is well-known for preserving its culture in this fast-paced world and its rich dance culture is a testimony to that.
Similar to other Asian countries, Korea has several vibrant and flourishing dance forms that are well-connected with its music and theatre. Several dance academies keep the dancing traditions alive by improving and introducing contemporary dances too.
Korean traditional dance focuses a lot on breathing and arm movements. The unique beauty of the dances is that they are directed through the tempo of the music. There is a sort of energy flowing when the dancers perform their dance which is associated with spirit or Ki as referred to in Korean philosophy. The energy flows from the dancer's chest onto their arms and hands. The general tempo of the music and songs is slow, but there are moments of fast movements and frozen poses as well. Several religious practices still involve traditional music and traditional dances during their times of prayer. There are many forms of Korean traditional dance, which you can learn about below.
Once you have finished reading this article, why not discover DMZ Korea facts and aboriginal dance facts here on Kidadl?
Below are some facts about the history of Korean traditional dance:
Korean traditional dance started way back during prehistoric times when Korean people followed the ancient shamanistic rituals. Humans used song and dance to pray to the Gods, please them, and ask for blessings and favors.
As the concept of kings and Korean kingdoms came into being, the royal court started supporting the Korean traditional dances. This practice led to the establishment of dance academies, companies, and even a ministry.
The traditional dances suffered when Japanese imperialism affected Korea. Imperial Japan suppressed the cultural development in Korea, and Korean dancers suffered a lot. Several forms of traditional dance were lost during Korea's annexation to Japan.
Through the constant and continuous efforts of top dancers and choreographers, the dance form advanced and prospered again.
Here are some interesting facts about Korean folk dancing.
Korean folk dances are lively performances that are performed on stage and in villages during festival times and celebrations. It is a part of Korean traditional dance. The dancers are mostly women, while in some dances, men perform as well.
Huge drums (barrel drums or buk), hats, swords, and fans are used as props and instruments to aid the traditional music. The dancers usually wear hanboks (long white robes), beoseons (socks), and jeogoris (colorful jacket).
Some of the well-known folk dances include the drum dance or Mugo, the monk dance or Seungmu, the mask dance or Talchum, the maiden's dance or Ganggang sullae, crane dance or Dongrae hakchum, and sword dance or Geommu.
The folk dances of Korea are famous and look colorful and vibrant.
They are usually classified as Court dance and shamanic dances, ritual dances, new traditional dances, and modern dances. A Korean court dance performance was done in front of the kings and royal family officials during the time of festivals to entertain the people in the court and display the dancing skills of the performers.
They are long and uninterrupted dances performed while wearing traditional costumes and depicting stories of kings and gods. Some of the many court dances include drum dance or Mugo, lion dance or Sajamu, dragon dance or Cheoyongmu, crane and lotus dance or Hakyeon hwadaemu, ball game dance or Pogurak, Jinsoe Dance, phoenix dance or Bonglaeui, and sword dance or Geommu.
While people nowadays differentiate between sword dance, or Geommu, and martial arts dance, or Kunmudo, both are done for artistic purposes only and bring harmony between nature and our spirits. Shamanic dance performances include those dances that are performed anywhere and done while keeping a ritual in mind.
Some of the ritualistic dances include the ghost dance, victory dance or Seungjeonmu, spirit-cleansing dance or untying evil spirits or Salpuri, mask dance or Talchum, three-drum dance or Samgomu, and farmer's dance or Nongak. Some of these dances, like the mask dance or Talchum date way back to 1392 AD.
Additionally, there are now new traditional dance and modern dance forms that are contemporary dance or newly emerged dance forms. Some examples of these dances include fan dance or Buchaechum, drum dance or Samgomu Ogomu, and floral coronet dance or Hwagwanmu.
The court music of Korea is influenced by music from China, Japan, and Vietnam.
Korean court music is classified into three types: hyang’ak, which is Korean music, a'ak, which is Chinese or Confucian ritual music, and tang’ak, which is a combination of Korean and Chinese music. While singing is the main part of the court music, several instruments are also used, such as pyonyong, piri, pyonjong, saeng, kayagum, pak, janggu, tungga, yogo, hun, taegum, and more.
Even today, the South Korean government, music academies, and associations such as the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts and the Korean Music Association are promoting court music. Musical institutions, theater groups, and companies also make an effort to teach the art of Korean court music to upcoming musicians and performers.
Well-known music artists like BTS have mentioned that they seek inspiration from Korean court music.
Several Korean dance forms have emerged and evolved since prehistoric times. While the Korean traditional dance forms continue to exist, certain modern dance forms have also emerged.
Many renowned dancers and contemporary choreographers have come forward to showcase Korean traditions around the world. They have been recognized as 'national treasures' and have carefully established dance academies and trained dancers to promote this art.
The new practice of taking inspiration from the tradition and inculcating it into modern pieces of dance choreography is winning hearts for them all over Korea and the world. One such example is the fan dance, or Buchaechum which was conceived by dancer Kim Baek-bong six decades ago.
The dance company of some renowned and famous dancers usually travels around the world, and their performance is viewed by many as live or recorded performances. To ensure that the Korean dance culture lives on, it is important to bring the traditional dance of Korea to the USA and other countries where many second-generation Koreans live.
Creating awareness among the Korean community about institutes and art centers where Korean dance choreography takes place will help in getting more youngsters to register and embrace Korean dances.
Only by sharing what is Korean with the rest of the planet, will this precious Korean culture and its lovely traditions in the form of art, dance, and music be preserved and passed on to future generations. It will help them connect with their ancestral homeland even when far away.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for traditional Korean dance, then why not take a look at Jeju Island South Korea or South Korea history facts.
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