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Korean folk dances are close to the lives of the people. They
sprang from a variety of communal rituals, festive occasions, and cooperative
labor. When they were made and who made them are, of course, unknown. They came
forth spontaneously through the years, and their style differs slightly
according to region.
The indispensable recipe for folk dances is a theme from the
lives of working people which give them their own unique regional flavor. While
court dances aimed at artistic quality and featured special sequences in
choreography, folk dances were improvised, revealing their rather unpolished
styles. Rhythmic patterns accompanying them range over those of yombul
(6/1), t'aryong (12/1), kut kori
(12/8), and southern sanjo (solo instrument with drum accompaniment).
Folk dances originated in prayers for good crops in shaman
rituals, or evolved from communal forms of entertainment. T'alch'um (Mask
Dance), Salp'urich'um, Hallyangmu (Dance of Depraved Young
Noblemen), Nammu (the dance of a professional female entertainer wearing
a blue male robe), and Kanggangsuwollae (a female roundelay accompanied
by that refrain) are those most familiar to the public.
As these dances grew out of the lives of the people, they all
share similar traits but are performed in a variety of styles. Their plots and
choreography are simple, revealing the essential fun-loving character of rural
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