Ritual dance gets modernist flourish

The Korea Herald
Published : 2015-04-09 19:50

In today’s rapidly modernizing society, the art of revamping traditional customs to appeal to the artistic masses is becoming a rare find.

In an effort to fuse Korean ancestral ritual practices with the youthful vibrancy of contemporary dance, the National Theater of Korea is staging “Ceremony 64,” encompassing different types of customs including royal ancestral rites and Buddhism rituals.

The 70-minute, 45-cast production pays homage to these dying ritual practices by giving them a new-age dance twist.

The program highlights several Korean dances including ilmu, a ritual ceremony dance, as well as the traditional Buddhist ceremonial dances of barachum and nabichum.

In terms of aesthetics, the National Theater of Korea’s modern dance productions are rarely a disappointment, and “Ceremony 64” is no different.

The imaginative storyline of the dance piece is the lovechild of director Yun Sung-joo, who previously directed last year’s production of “The Scent of Ink” ― a stunningly modernized dance production with lavish Korean costuming clashing with chic and contemporary choreography. And in keeping with past productions such as “The Scent of Ink” and “Tournament,” the theater’s highlighting of Korean history and culture is prevalent throughout the repertoire.

Renowned local dancers Yun Sung-joo, Park Yi-pyo, Kim Mi-ae and Cho Jae-hyeok took the helm of the modernists-meet-traditionalists choreography of “Ceremony 64.”

The elegant choreography is coupled with the traditional sounds of Korea by composer Park Woo-jae, including both instrumental and pansori pieces.

“Ceremony 64” will be staged at the National Theater of Korea in Jangchung-dong, Seoul, from April 9-11. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2280-4114 or visit http://www.ntok.go.kr.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)

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