The Korea Herald


Modern interpretation of Jongmyo Jeryeak set for New York performance in July

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : May 21, 2023 - 13:57

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A scene from a 2022 “Ilmu” performance (SMDT) A scene from a 2022 “Ilmu” performance (SMDT)

The Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre has been invited to perform “Ilmu,” or “One Dance,” at New York’s Lincoln Center from July 20-22.

The performance will be featured as part of “Korean Arts Week,” one of the highlights of the Lincoln Center’s annual summer festival “Summer for the City” celebrating visual art, music, dance, theater and culture.

Premiered in May 2022, the production is directed by creative director Jung Ku-ho, in collaboration with choreographer Jung Hye-jin who is also the artistic director of SMDT, modern dance choreographer Kim Sung-hoon and choreographer-composer Kim Jae-duk.

“Ilmu” is a modern interpretation of a ceremonial dance from Jongmyo Jeryeak, which is a royal performance involving song, music and dance during ancestral rites held at Jongmyo Shrine. Jongmyo Jeryeak is designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by both the Korean government and UNESCO.

A scene from a 2022 “Ilmu” performance (SMDT) A scene from a 2022 “Ilmu” performance (SMDT)

“Ilmu” means “to dance in unison.” A total of 55 dancers will perform a synchronized dance showcasing balance and harmony, capturing the essence of classic Joseon court dance.

For this year’s performance, the directors have made changes to the costumes and reorganized the show into a four-act performance, adding an entirely new piece, “Jungmu.”

The Lincoln Center describes the performance as “a classic yet contemporary reinterpretation of ceremonial Korean traditional dance, featuring a large formation and picturesque stage that creates a sense of grandeur, harmony and balance.”

Tickets for the performance range from $30 to $190, and can be purchased on the David H. Koch Theater’s official website.

“Ilmu” is also scheduled to perform in Seoul, at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts from Thursday to Sunday.