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Visualizing the beauty of scattered melodies

National Dance Company of Korea presents tradition-inspired dance show ‘Sanjo’

June 24, 2021 - 17:26 By Im Eun-byel
A scene from “Sanjo,” presented by the National Dance Company of Korea (National Theater of Korea)

The National Dance Company of Korea’s “Sanjo” is to begin run at the National Theater of Korea on Thursday.

In the 80-minute dance show, the national dance company visually depicts the aesthetics of “sanjo,” which refers to a style of traditional Korean music in which an instrumental solo performance is accompanied by “janggu” drumming.

While the term sanjo directly translates to “scattered melodies,” it features the gathering and scattering of various melodies. Inspired by the art of sanjo, the dance company used movement to convey this gathering and scattering process.

Director Jung Ku-ho, a celebrated fashion designer here who leads the eponymous label Kuho and is also the former executive director of Seoul Fashion Week, has joined hands with the dance troupe once again for the show, following the productions “Scent of Ink,” “The Banquet” and more. He was in charge of directing the production, as well as stage set-up, costumes and videography for the three-act show.
A scene from “Sanjo,” presented by the National Dance Company of Korea (National Theater of Korea)

The dance company held a press preview Wednesday prior to the official opening.

The first act, backed with music produced by Grammy-winning sound engineer Hwang Byeong-joon, began with a solo female dancer dressed in hanbok, traditional Korean costume, along with traditional sanjo music.

The second act featured electronic sanjo music, reinterpreted by composer Kim Jae-deok. The dancers gathered and scattered onstage, using sticks ranging in length from 40 centimeters to 3 meters, visually portraying the connections between past and present, traditional and contemporary.

For the last act, the troupe showcased choreography that represents the balance between stillness and action.

Choi Jin-wook, the principal choreographer at the Gyeonggido Dance Company and a former member of the national dance company, was in charge of the choreography along with Lim Jin-ho, who is a member of the contemporary dance group Goblin Party.

“Sanjo” is being staged at the Haeoreum Grand Theater at the National Theater of Korea, which is set to officially open in September after a four-year renovation process.

By Im Eun-byel (