A Dancer and an Educator
Kim Un-mi, awardee of the Korea Dance Association Art Award
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In the words of the cherished German philosopher Friedrich von Schlegel, “Every art should become science, and every science should become art.” This is the very belief that College of Performing Arts and Sports Dean Kim Un-mi holds true for dance and education. Constantly emphasizing the importance of connectivity between educational theory and practice, Kim shared with News H some of her thoughts on being awarded the Korea Dance Association Art Award. Kim was recognized for having contributed to the field of Korean Dance, especially for having established the Research Institute of Korea Traditional Dance.
The Korea Dance Association Art Award
Dating back to 1961, the Korea Dance Association is the largest and most deeply rooted organization in the domestic field of dance. Every year, people who have made great advancements, not just in the field of dance but in regional developments and education as well, have been recognized and awarded by the organization. Nevertheless, with the awardees of the Art Award traditionally having been dancers, Kim answered that it was a great honor for her to have received the honor as an educator. Kim was highly praised in contributing to the preservation and advancement of Korean traditional dance through the Research Institute of Korea Traditional Dance. It was clear that Kim held immense passion for Korean dance as she talked about the background of its establishment.
In addition to researching and teaching the theories of dancing, Kim stated that she still dances to this day.
(Photo courtesy of Kim)
According to Kim, it all began with a performance in Australia. It was a composition dance, where the choreography was built around the theme of a Korean traditional wedding. From stage editing to costumes and music, the Korean traditional style had been adapted. Even more important was the choreography. Kim desired to deliver the very essence of the traditional ceremony, with an emphasis on the emotions of the bride. “The traditionally long event had to be compressed into a 30-minute sequence, which was a challenge for me.” From anxiety to excitement, joy, and happiness, Kim directed the performance in a manner through which the emotions of the bride on the day of the wedding could be felt by the audience.
Eventually accruing great praise and recognition for the performance, Kim was offered support to expand her activities and research, which was when she proposed the idea of the research institute. Established well before the currently ubiquitous concept of convergence research, the Research Institute of Korea Traditional Dance utilized the two separate fields of Korean dance and engineering for one purpose: the preservation and advancement of Korean traditional dance. Not only does the institute conduct historical research, digging deeper into the roots of Korean dance, but it also analyzes the virtue and spirit that is contained in it. Various concepts are devised to capture abstract meanings in the dance. Furthermore, methods to install these values and ultimately design them into choreography are studied there.
A photo of Kim instructing her students (Photo courtesy of Kim)
Born to dance
“My first memories are that of dancing.” With her mother also a dancer and an educator, Kim stated that she had always danced. However, that does not mean that it was only out of external influence. According to Kim, she had always been captivated by the stage, and there was always an exhilarating emotion that arose seconds after she started dancing. As a student, she was also very studious. Determined to prove to herself that the Korean stereotype of dancers and musicians being academically underachieved is wrong, she always set aside time to study. In fact, Kim graduated from the Department of Dance at the top of her class. “It was, however, never for the sake of coming in first."
As an educator, Kim wishes to teach her students how to endow meaning to their dance. “Our students are very passionate. Having such passion to move, dance, and train the body for dancing requires just as much time and effort as studying.” However, deeply influenced by the Korean system of college preparation, Kim worries that most students dance out of instruction. According to Kim, there should always be a motive for each movement, and as dancers, students need to think profusely about how they move and dance. This is the very core of her idea in emphasizing the importance of theoretical aspects of dancing. “The theoretical foundations of dancing could result in profound changes in their movements.”
As a word of wisdom for the students of Hanyang, Kim refers to the Hanyang motto, "Love in deed." “What I want to stress is the "deed" part. By that I mean that all studying must be followed with some practical actions.” According to Kim, whether it is dancing, studying, or even breathing for the sake of living, things must have meaning. For that, we must engage in theoretical and cognitive research, and follow with some appropriate actions. She believes that this will create results deeper in meaning and satisfaction. “People must move. And to move, people must think. One does not carry meaning without the other.” Kim stated that she hopes to see more students able to think and act for themselves, and pursue achievements as proud students of Hanyang.
Lee Chang-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Min-ju
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