Marriage of Buddhism and modern dance

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Langues :

Seoul, South Korea — Masked dancers run through gilded Buddhist statues on stage and roll over with them. The dancers also pile up plastic baskets on stage and knock them down, as if symbolizing Koreans accepting and consuming new culture rapidly.

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A scene from the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company’s repertoire "Bul-ssang" / Courtesy of Korea National Contemporary Dance Company

This is the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company (KNCDC)’s "Bul-ssang," which will be staged on Friday and Saturday at Main Hall Hae of National Theater of Korea on Mount Nam.

"Bul-ssang" is a repertoire of the KNCDC, created by artistic director Ahn Ae-soon. Ahn is a prominent dancer and choreographer in Korea, known for her sense of rhythm and knack of creating dynamic space.

Premiered in 2009 at LG Arts Center, the dance piece is a fine example of collaboration of contemporary dacne, live DJing, visual art and video works. Ahn was inspired by Buddha Bar, a Paris-born restaurant that incorporates large statues of Buddha as a main theme of interior. "Westerners built a new trend with Buddhist statues and lounge music. This is my self-reflection as a choreographer who failed to renew Korean tradition," Ahn said.

The title "Bul-ssang" comes from the Korean word for Buddhist statue, written in the way it sounds. Ahn tried to portray that the faces of the statues are actually those of worldly people and these people seek sanctity in their paltry but dynamic life.

Ahn incorporated various types of dance from Indian classical dance Kathak, Chinese martial art Bodhidharma and Korean traditional Jindo drum dance to modern hip-hop and popping dance moves to express the distortion and transformation of tradition in modern Asian countries.

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