Basics of Korean National Dance


Movements of Korean national dance already began to form in the period of Ancient Korea.

According to Samgukji (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), the people of Ancient Joson, in October every year, enjoyed themselves dancing and singing over varieties of dishes they prepared, pleased to have a good crop that year and hoping for another good crop of the following year. Dancing, it is said, was the main part of the celebration called muchon.

The main dance movements in the ancient period included drawing, shouldering, winding, treading and stamping.

In the period of Koguryo, the first feudal state in Korea, there were further developed dances that reflected the feelings and emotions of the nation.

Murals of the dance tomb and the Mausoleum of King Kogugwon show dancers with all their arms raised in front or sideways, and the height of the arms is not beyond their shoulders.

Almost all pictures of dancers in long-sleeved clothes show the sleeves all hanging down. So it can be said that “Dance in Long-sleeved Clothes" of Koguryo consisted mainly of such movements as raising and lowering arms gently to the music.

"Tabour Dance" of Koguryo was the one in which dancers danced while beating tabours hanging from the neck or held in hand.

This can be seen on a mural of the aforementioned mausoleum.

The movements of the dance are now adopted by tabour players in traditional peasant dances, and used in creating dances on modern themes.

The movements of time-honoured national dances have now improved in taste and charm inherent to the nation.

The once-famous dancer Choe Sung Hui (1911-1969) travelled every nook and corner of the country to find out all of traditional dance movements, arranged them properly and synthesised the dance movements which correctly preserve the inherent characteristics of national dance. Choreographers and entertainers integrated the main movements of national dance, and systematised them on a more scientific basis.

Thus the book Basics of Korean National Dance that systematises each movement of dance in detail and in depth was published, and a relevant documentary was created.

Relevant educational institutions are using the book to train dancers, and all art troupes are creating varieties of dances on the basis of the basics.

And national dances are spread to the public, and people enjoy dancing on holidays and red-letter days.

The book Basics of Korean National Dance, a collection of gentle yet powerful Korean dance movements, is a precious treasure of the nation.

The book that helps any Korean to learn and dance national dances with ease and that serves as a solid foundation for the development of national dancing was registered as No. 72 on the list of the national intangible cultural heritage.

Basics of Korean National Dance

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