Choe Sung Hui, Modernizer of National Dance

korean dance research institute

Staff of Korean Dance Research Institute. (Naenara Photo, cropped)

Handing down the Traditional Dance Movements

By Om Hyang Sim


Korean Dance Research Institute under the Phibada Opera Troupe was first established in 1946 as the Choe Sung Hui Dance Studio.

choe sung hui

Choe Sung Hui

It has a long history of studying and developing excellent traditions of the national dance and thus has left an outstanding mark in the development of the Korean national dance by scientifically formulating the theories and practical issues arising in discovering and preserving folk dance movements.

Choe Sung Hui, the first head of the studio, contributed greatly to modernizing the Korean national dance. She selected and defined gracious movements of strong national mood through a close study of the folk dance, and based on is published a book, titled, Fundamentals of the Traditional Korean Dances, in 1937.

book fundamentals of the traditional korean dances

Choe Sung Hui's book has been registered as a national intangible cultural heritage of the DPRK. (Naenara Photo)

The book which provided the theoretical basis for creating dances by sustaining diverse and rich Korean rhythmic patterns was greatly favoured by dancers.

The institute commenced the research into a new dance notation in 1972.

At that time Labanotation and other dance notations were in vogue worldwide, but as they were not versatile for the movements of all rhythmic patterns, they were not widely applicable to practice.

Researchers of the institute conducted persevering efforts for over a decade to develop a new dance notation for recording all representational elements based on the rhythmic movements of human, and made public the Korean-style alphabetical dance notation in 1987.

korean traditional dances

The new dance notation was highly appreciated for its scientific accuracy and practicability at the tenth session of the international dance council held in Pyongyang in September 1992.

The institute developed Paekhak (Crane -ed), a dance score editing program, and put the writing and editing of dance scores on an IT footing.

At present, it is actively conducting the work to thoroughly discover folk dance patterns with local peculiarities, preserve and develop them as suited to the modern aesthetic sentiments.

korean traditioanl male dance

A strenuous effort is also given to the development of new branches of cross-disciplinary sciences, combining dance with psychology, aesthetics, pedagogics and other branches.

Nam Su Hyang, a researcher of the institute, says with confidence that the institute will step up its efforts to sustain and develop the tradition of graceful and beautiful Korean dance.

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