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By Bak Keung Ko


June 24th marked the fifteenth year of K-Arts Dance Company performing in the eastern United States. An annual tradition, students from the Korean National University of Arts travel overseas to display their passion for dance. This year, the performance included three styles: Korean traditional dance, ballet, and contemporary dance. Directed by Young-il Hur, 2014 brought about five unique pieces at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre in Midtown, New York.


To start off, there were four parts to Korean traditional dance. Taepyeongmu is a dance that wishes good harvest and peace for the country. Dressed in Korean official clothing called gwanbok, dancers replicated the long tradition of court dancing. Seungmu is a Korean Buddhist monk dance. Donning a jangsam (robe with long sleeves and a white hood), the monk moved rhythmically with the music. The performance included a ritual dance and a drum performance. Soar Up was a dance piece that represented the human longing for flight and the final Geommu (sword dance) praised the hero Hwang-Chang of the Silla period. All told a unique yet beautiful story through dance! The elegant movements of the dancers and rhythms of the music contributed to the overall grand nature of the performance.


Transitioning from traditional dance was a modern dance performance. With a German music backdrop, ballet dancers conveyed a story of unrevealing truth. Multiple dancers danced with fear of confrontation of the truth. Movements between the male and female dancers preventing each other from finding out the truth demonstrated how illusory the truth can be. Throughout the dance, curiosity, humor, and fear of truth dominated the dancers’ motions


The last part of the event showcased a contemporary dance titled Nothing to Say. Different from both traditional and modern dances, the performing artists conveyed a story of young people who are “Not in education, Employment, or Training (NEET). The dance revealed the frustrations of these common people and their seemingly meaningless lives through running, jumping, screaming, and heavy breathing. Through these exhaustive yet exhilarating actions, the audience is able to understand the importance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle. This contemporary work was very different from traditional dance, but was just as moving and elegant.


After ending with a powerful piece, the dancers all gathered onto the stage for a final group bow, accompanied by escalating applause from the audience. There was no doubt that was truly a remarkable performance.