Saturday, 25 October 2008

Yi(Lee), Chuljin, a Korean Traditional Dancer

Yi(Lee), Chuljin graduated from Seoul Institute of Arts. He completed M.A. degree with the thesis “A Study on the Qualitative Experiences of Korean Traditional Dances: a Phenomenological Analysis” and acquired Ph.D. degree with his dissertation titled “An Analysis on Salpuri Dance in Han, Yeongsuk’s Style: Based on Methodology in the Book of Changes and Palgwae(8 Signs of Devination)”, from Myung-Ji University in Korea. Especially, he proposed a new methodology for interpreting Korean traditional dances with unique views for movements of Korean dances in his dissertation.
He had been taught Seung Mu, the 27th Korean Important Intangible Cultural Asset, from Lee Aejoo and Gyung-gi Dodang-gut, a sort of Korean Shamanic ritual that contains various artistic dance sequences, the 98th Korean Important Intangible Cultural Asset, from Oh, Soobok. Finally, in 2003 he became an inheritor of Korean Important Intangible Cultural Asset specialized in Dodang dance, a type of Gyung-gi Dodang-gut. He has given 15 personal performances after his first performance, “Yi Chuljin’s Traditional Dances” in 1998.
Generally speaking, there are 4 types of traditional dances in Korea. Firstly, it is Gungjung-chum, which is the court dance performed in the royal palace. The next one is Minsok-chum, which means folk dances enjoyed by ordinary people. The third category is Yein-chum which has been developed by dance masters. The last category is Euisik-chum, dances for special religious seremonies. Further, Yein-chum consists of three kinds according to its origin, that is, Gibang, Jaein and Musok. The Korean traditional dances shown by Yi, Chuljin originated from Jaein with a clear genealogy from Han, Sungjun to him. In this point of view, Korean traditional dances of Yi Chuljin have distinctive characteristics as follows;
Firstly, he have learnt dances such as Seungmu and Salpuri from one master for a long time while other dancers have been taught different dances from different mentors to make their own dance styles. As a result, his dances preserve the traditional values of Korean traditional dances from modernization and alternation. In addition, there are unique features representing Han, Young-sook’s dance styles in his dances.

Secondly, as he has taught himself for a long time with his brilliant educational backgrounds from Lee Aejoo and Oh, Soobok he has built a unique view for interpreting Korean traditional dances. Especially, instead of the existing assertions which interpret Korean traditional dances in the automatic, practical viewpoints, he has paid attention to environments which make Korean traditional dances be generated. In other words, he is interpreting traditional Korean dances as a whole with serious considerations of their characteristic movement patterns.
Finally, one of the distinctive features in his Seungmu is that his dances are masculine styles with powerful movements. Nowadays most of Korean traditional dancers are presenting feminine and technical styles of dances in their performances. This phenomenon indicates that modern Korean traditional dances have been strongly affected by Gibang –chum style that belongs to Yein-chum category. However, his Seungmu is presenting traditional movements of Jaein style with manly and dynamic traits, which would be a key to understand a unique feature of Korean traditional dances. In addition, this characteristic distinguishes his dances from others'.

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