The Son Kyung-Soon Yaejon Dance Company's performance was a fine blend of the traditional and the contemporary

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations and The Embassy of the Republic of Korea together with the Korea Foundation and the InKo Centre hosted a performance by the Son Kyung-Soon Yaejon Dance Company at the Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall recently. Having first performed in New Delhi, the dance company arrived in Chennai to continue showcasing and sharing the traditional dance and music of their culture with Indian audiences.

Cultural assets

Several of the dances performed at the show have been classified ‘Important Intangible Cultural Assets' by the Korean government (in 1964, the South Korean Cultural Heritage Administration introduced the ‘Important Intangible Cultural Properties' — a system of listing and preservation of the intangible aspects of South Korean culture, such as dance and music.)

The company, founded in 1995 and led by founder and director Son Kyung-Soon, opened the show with the ‘Cheo-Yong-Mu', atraditional Korean court dance, featuring five masked dancers, each of whom represented the five directions of east, west, north, south and centre.

Unlike Bharathanatyam, which highlights the contortions of the dancer's body, the traditional Korean dancers' bodies are hidden beneath large, flowing skirts — called the ‘Hanbok' — which take as much part in the performance as the dancers themselves. Each gesture of the body causes a billowing of the skirt and reveals the colours of the multi-layered hems beneath; the costume, music and props (such as hand-held fans and drums) are all important components of the dance performance as a whole.

The ‘Bu-Chae-Chum' (fan dance), a particularly popular item, makes use of the fan to create the shape of ‘the Rose of Sharon' — Korea's national flower, which represents brilliance and harmony. One of the more upbeat and lively numbers, the dancers used the vibrantly-coloured fans to create fluttering shapes and wave-like motions.

Fusion time

However, amidst the traditional was also a fusion with the contemporary.

The modern take on the ‘Shin-Sal-Pu-Ri' — a dance traditionally created to drive out evil spirits called ‘Sal' — saw a mix of Korean music with English lyrics.

Unlike the original, the modern interpretation accepts ‘Sal' as a natural part of life, recognising the human spirit as capable of housing both good and evil.

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012