Korean Fantasy to Offer Traditional Dance
By Han Sang-hee
The National Dance Company of Korea is bringing ``Korean Fantasy,'' one of its most famous and exciting repertories, to the stage March 18-21.
``Korean Fantasy'' offers a set of traditional dance forms whereby fans can experience the ``buchae dance,'' or fan dance, the crane dance and Gangang-sullae, to the troupe's own creative works like ``The Spirit of Silla Kingdom'' and ``Prayer.''
``The performance offers `jeongjungdong' and `dongjungjeong,' which are the unique characteristics of Korean dance. It will offer serenity, dynamism and humor to visitors,'' the company said in a press release.
The term ``jeongjungdong'' refers to swift movements in a state of serenity, while ``dongjungjeong'' means the peace hidden in strong and passionate movements. Many traditional dance movements carry these two elements, harmonizing the state of mind and movements while offering an edge of its own.
Despite the efforts of troupes like the company, traditional dance is still considered old among young students.
``We always see them at school field trips and through textbooks. They all look the same, with the hanbok and the pansori,'' Kim Joo-hee, a middle school student, told The Korea Times, referring to the traditional clothes and music.
Thus, in order to bring some sense of fresh air to the ``old'' dance form, the 47- year-old troupe has continuously brought new energetic stages to the performance, including this year's event.
The ``Kingdom'' stage shows servants busily preparing for a new day. Serving the king and queen is not an easy task, and the dancers express their rush and excitement through swift movements.
Many may recall Korean traditional dances mainly focusing on female performers, with the colorful fans, costumes and hair adornments, but at ``Korean Fantasy,'' there are plenty of male-dominated dances as well.
The ``Poom'' stage, translated as ``Rank,'' presents only male performers, as the sequence touches on the sensitive issue of politics. Divided into several parties, the dancers express their differences in opinion through strong and intense movements, combining traditional and modern techniques together.
Then comes the signature dances of the troupe: the ``janggo'' dance, drum dance and fan dance. Unlike ballet or other Western dances in which dancers jump and move vertically, Korean traditional dance tends to move horizontally, which is why the janggo is also played in that same horizontal position. The famous drum dance will also offer a memorable experience as the dancers will play the drums attached to a frame on their left, right and in front of them while dancing to the thundering music.
The fan dance is also one of Korea's favorite routines, with performers moving gently yet speedily with colorful fans, decorated with the ``flower of life,'' in hand. Visitors will get to watch movements based on the lines and sides of the flowing dresses, swift movements of the arms and feet and the colorful fans.
The last stage, called ``Prayer,'' will bring the serenity of peace and prayers and conclude the program through a type of a spiritual ceremony, with dancers moving with bamboo poles believed to be a medium for connecting heaven and earth.
For those who want to enjoy a Korean traditional performance, complete with music, settings and costumes, ``Korean Fantasy'' will be a great choice for friends and family alike.
The show will be held at the National Theater of Korea March 18-21. Tickets cost from 10,000 won to 30,000 won. For more information, visit www.ntok.go,kr or call (02) 2280-4115.