Monday, July 20, 2015

Korean Hip Hop Dance Crew Just Jerk

Hat tip to Glen for sending along this amazing hip hop dance piece by the Korean dance crew Just Jerk. 정말 대단한다고 생각합니다. I'm not usually a big fan of hip hop, but this performance is mesmerizing and, interestingly enough, not exactly immediately identifiable as hip hop. It's actually a fantastic tribute to more traditional Korean dance and music styles. How so?

First of all, three of the four songs come from the soundtracks to movies and dramas set during the Joseon Dynasty (the fourth is a hip hop piece by a Korean artist), and secondly, the costumes are obviously inspired by traditional Korean costumes. For the first half of the performance, the dancers are wearing masks, which makes me think of Korean masked dances, broadly known as 탈춤 (talchum). These kinds of dances always tell a dramatic tale, and similarly, I can see how this piece by Just Jerk has a musical arc and a sort of choreographed story.

It's pretty common knowledge by now that the South Korean 힙합 (hip hop) and 비보잉 (b-boying/breakdancing) scenes are huge, and that Korean b-boy crews win international competitions. There must be something in the water here... although one of my Korean instructors once tried to explain that this American genre's popularity in Korea was due in part to the fact that dance circles and community performance aspect of b-boying were similar to Korean folk dancing styles like 풍물 (pungmul) or 농악 (nongak). I don't quite buy it, but all the same, performances like the one I've shared above do in fact do a wonderful job in connecting the traditional with the young and modern.

Speaking of young, I checked out Just Jerk's Facebook page, and boy, they all look fresh out of college, or maybe even younger. 수준이 아주 높고 타고난 소질이 있는 듯! Also, as I scrolled down their wall, I was really surprised to see that they have toured internationally to do workshops, and one of their recent locations was UC Berkeley! How cool. Cal's huge dance community is always holding workshops, but I didn't know they brought people in from as far away as Korea. 미래에 JJㄴㄴ캘리포니아에 투어 하려고 다시 오고, 저는 공연을 볼 수 있으면 좋겠습니다!

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