Geommu (also transliterated Gummu, Kommu) is a traditional sword dance practiced in Korea.
Geommu is performed with special costume, dance motions, and music. The
dance is known for its grace in performance. Extra emphasis is placed
on the movement of the costuming, notably the sleeves, in harmony with
the movements of the dancer. The symbolic use of a Kal, a replica
sword, keeps to the militaristic origins of this dance. Northern California Korean Dance Association performs Geommu for People Like Me 2009. The first part is a solo in which the dancer holds long swords in each hand.
This was created from a cave painting of the Goguryuh Era (57BC – 668AD) called
“Muyong Chong.” The boldness of a woman warrior portrayed by the painting was
interpreted into the solo portion of Gum Mu.
Dancers of Geommu wear Hanbok
Kwaeja (overcoat), Jeon-Dae (belt), and Jeon-Rip (military style cap).
Hanbok is the traditional Korean dress that consists of Chima (a skirt)
and Jeogori (a jacket). These elements combine to form a stylized
version of the Joseon Dynasty military uniform. The costume
traditionally has the colors of blue, red, yellow, green and black but
many regional variations exist. The Jinju region has a blue Chima and a jade green Jeogori.Gwangju in the Jeolla province has a red Chima and a light green Jeogori.
The Kal is the replica sword used in Geom-mu. Between the blade and
the handle of a Kal are three rings called Kukhwa. These three rings
have varying sizes and make sounds when performers dance the Geom-mu.
The second part is danced with
shorter swords. A seven-year-old boy named Chang Yang Hwang of the Shinra
Period (57 BCE to 668 CE) became famous for his skill with sword dance. He was
invited to perform Gum Mu for Shinra’senemy, the King of Baekjae, and while
dancing, Hwang stabbed the King to death. Unable to escape, Hwang was killed,
and Shinra’s people mourned. They crafted masks to look like the young hero,
and danced the Gum Mu in his honor. Over the centuries, the once dangerous
dance evolved a slow and ritualized beauty. Today, its slow movements offer
beauty, grace, and peace.
Gum Mu is performed in costumes
worn by ancient Chosun government officials: the “junrip” (black hats), “junbok”
(blue vests), and “jundae” (red belts).