Traditional dance masters on stage
By Rachel Lee
Masters of Korean traditional dances are set to deliver rare performances showcasing skills gained after decades of practice.
“Masterpieces of Korean Dance,” hosted by the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, will take place at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul on June 9.
The evening’s entertainment will center around Lee Mae-bang, 84, known for “Seungmu,” the monk’s dance and “Salpuri,” a soul-purifying dance, and Kim Baek-bong, 84, famed for “Hwagwanmu,” a floral coronet dance and “Buchaechum,” or fan dance.
The two prominent dancers will grace the stage with other artists including Kim Mal-ae, 62, Kim Mae-ja, 68 and Guk Su-ho, 63, known for his performances of “Ipchum,” meaning basic dance. Director Jin Ok-seop described the upcoming event as “the best of Korean dance,” at a press conference held in Seoul on May 21.
“This performance is designed around the two dancers who have spent their entire lives becoming accomplished in different types of Korean dance,” said Ryu Chan, an organizer.
Lee began to learn dancing when he was seven years old. His reinterpretations of the two dances are registered as the 27th and 95th Important Intangible Cultural Properties respectively.
Kim Baek-bong used to be the best pupil of the late Choi Seung-hee (1911-1967), the greatest Korean dancer of her time. Baek-bong garnered acclaim for her sensational creations, the floral coronet dance and the fan dance performed at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
Due to old age, the two artists will only perform for some five minutes each. Lee will demonstrate the monk’s dance, then accompanied by his wife, Kim Myung-ja, 69, and Kim Baek-bong will dance the first half of the fan dance with the other part to be performed by her daughter Ahn Byung-joo, 51.
The performance comprises traditional dance, contemporary dance forms in a traditional vein and new choreography.
“It was previously impossible to see the two masters dance on the same stage because they have so much pride in their individual specialization,” Ryu said. “The performance will take audiences right into the history of Korean dance.” “Masterpieces of Korean Dance” will be held at the LG Arts Center, Seoul on June 9 at 5 p.m. For more information, call (02) 3011-1720.