Traditional Korean dance may be divided into four general categories: court dance, folk dance, ritual dance, and the dance of professional entertainers.
Court dances are slow, stately, and elegant, the movements balanced and restrained.
Folk dance includes farmers’ dances, mask dance-dramas, and various group dances meant to accompany work.
Ritual dance appears in Confucian, shamanistic, and Buddhist ceremonies.
Professional entertainers performed both court and folk dances, often combining features of the two.
Many traditional dances were forgotten during the Japanese colonial period (1910-45) and the chaotic early years of the Republic, but in the 1980s, interest in these long-forgotten dances revived.
Mask-dance dramas are basically a folk art developed by the common classes during the Chosun Dynasty.
Although they vary slightly according to region and performer, they all share fundamental characteristics. They were based on a sense of the unfairness of their lives and were a parody of human weaknesses, social evils and the privileged class. The dances often ridiculed Buddhist monks, decadent noblemen and shamans as well as the ever popular conflict between the ugly wife and the seductive concubine. Mask-dances are traditionally performed outdoors and are accompanied by music from three string and six wind and percussion instruments. While some actors stop dancing to deliver their lines with a great deal of gesticulation, the other parts are acted out in pantomime.
One of the mot remarkable features of Korean mask-dances is the audience’s enthusiastic participation. Toward the end of a performance there is little distinction between the actors and the audience as all join together in a robust dance that brings the performance to a truly affirmative life-enhancing finale.
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Last Updated on 2021-02-08
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