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Asia: East Asia: Korea
Korean Traditional Dance

Geommu

Performances in
World Arts West Programs
Geommu
Performers
Northern California Korean Dance Association
Instruments Used
Daegeum
Gayageum
Haegeum
Piri

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.

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.

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.  

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).


 



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