In Seoul, South Korea, at the Jongmyo shrine, a royal ancestral ritual of prescribed music and dance is performed annually. The tradition to praise and honor the ancestors of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) has been kept for over 600 years. This dance form, called ilmu, which translates as “line dance” or “one dance,” requires 64 dancers positioned in eight lines of eight moving as one in restrained unison. Wearing long, full, colored robes and carrying symbolic props in their hands, the dancers perform the slow, controlled, set sequences reinforcing Confucian ideals—order, harmony of yin and yang, and filial piety—in the service of societal stability. Similar rituals were originally practiced in China as well, but the practices were discontinued there with the abolition of the monarchy.
One way to get to know the history of a company is through the “liner notes” of its “Swan Lake” production, and for those of us continuing to build an admiring familiarity with Pacific Northwest Ballet via its digital season offerings, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell’s “Swan Lake” provides an interesting glimpse into PNB prior to Peter Boal’s leadership.FREE ARTICLE