[so what’s this korean dance you’re learning?]

This is a reasonable question that a number of people have asked me, including my mom. A quick search for Korean dance on YouTube turns up mostly pop, and if you throw in the word “traditional,” you get mostly women. And I had to admit that even I wasn’t very clear on what the dance style I’m learning is supposed to look like when a man does it. (When it comes to men’s dancing, I’m much more familiar with the twirly hat stuff and the 사물노리 (samulnori) farmers’ dance.)

So I went searching, and I’ve turned up a few examples, which I will present for you here without further ado (better to link through where you can see the YouTube videos in a bigger size):
The first one is, I believe, roughly what my teacher has in mind for me. The odds of my dancing that well are not high. My parents told me about a budding jazz singer they knew who started weeping when they played a Sarah Vaughan record for her, and I kind of feel like that watching this video.
All of these dancers are impressive, and having taking a few classes, I have a much clearer idea of just how challenging it is to move gracefully through these poses. It’s a beautiful form of dance, and extraordinarily foreign to me. I remember how startling it was when a crowd of people started up with a folk version of this sort of thing during the halftime of Korea’s quarterfinal game in the 2002 World Cup, dancing in a circle and banging drums and cymbals there in the dirt field of the local middle school.
Bonus: For those who don’t know, Korea has perhaps the world’s most badass b-boy culture. Please to enjoy. 멋있다!

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