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Korean DIDIM Dance presents Sky Dance
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 Lotus women perform on stage. [Photo courtesy of Poly Performing Arts Co., Ltd.]

At the invitation of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, celebrated South Korean choreographer, Kook Soo Ho, and his DIDIM Dance Company, made their first trip to Beijing on Friday to present "Sky Dance."

The dance begins with the striking of drums rousing an ensemble of dancers stretched out on the floor. Dressed in traditional Korean costumes, more than 20 percussionists strike up vigorous rhythms on drums.

The motions of the dancers' hands constitute intricate pieces of choreography themselves.

Kook, the director of "Sky Dance," says the drumming symbolizes the harmony between human beings and nature in keeping with the theme of the Olympic Games.

"The Olympic Games gather people from all over the world. China has the longest history in Asia; therefore, I am thinking of a way to present various cultures through my dance. The 2008 Olympics are a peace-themed event, so I want to show the harmony between nature and humanity by adopting the trinity of the sky, earth and humans."

There are many pleasant moments in the dance. Some of the episodes that follow include a solo dance by a man in a struggle with nature and a memorial ceremony by nine lotus women in praise of heaven.

In another dance, the drumming of seven drummers is based on a folk ritual designed to drive away evil spirits.

Many of the dances can be enjoyed simply for their beauty of design. For instance, young women holding drums against their waists walk slowly and gracefully in a line towards the audience, in a manner similar to China's famous "Thousand-hand Bodhisattva" dance.

Founded in 1987, Kook's troupe has made great achievements in the Korean dance community during the past 15 years. They have been invited to perform in more than 50 countries in the world.

The troupe became well-known after its exemplary presentations of Korean drumming during the opening ceremony of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

As a veteran dance artist, Kook has been involved in dancing for 45 years. He says it is a great honor to be invited to Beijing, especially during the Olympic Games. He also spoke highly of the Olympic opening ceremony here.

"This year's opening ceremony is the most splendid and excellent one I have ever seen. With this performance, I think China already knows how to lead the way into the future. What impressed me most is China's development process from the Han dynasty to modern society, designed by the general director Zhang Yimou."

Kook also expressed his admiration for Zhang Jigang, dance director of the Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony.

Kook says he was amazed by Zhang's arrangement of Confucius' three thousand disciples reading aloud and in unison.

Kook says he and Zhang are good friends and often talk to each other about dance. He says Korea has done a good job of preserving its traditional dance and that China should do more in this respect.

"China should preserve its dance culture like it does with the Peking opera, and the same as Japan does with kabuki. If it can extract the culture of its 56 nationalities, this will be an abundant resource."

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