Shamanism has existed in Korea since ancient times. A shaman rite was once a catharsis for Korean communities and a means of coming together as one. While shamanism coexisted for a time with other spiritual beliefs such as buddhism, this precious art form has all but disappeared in the wake of Japan’s colonization of Korea, the Korean War, rapid industrialization and westernization. No longer permeating Korean society in a way it once did, the beliefs and practices of Shamanism have been relegated largely to history books.
On Top of the Blade, attempts to communicate Korea’s intangible cultural heritage through modern dance. Choreographer Ryu Jang-hyun has previously explored various genres of korean dance, modern ballet, contemporary dance, and music creating incredible performances. On Top of the Blade investigates shamanic rituals in a modern setting by weaving the pagan like beliefs with contemporary life through dance. The performance is a playful discussion examining the place of ancient traditions in today’s society characterized by fierce competition and a winner-takes-all attitude. Ultimately, On Top of the Blade suggest that perhaps the wisdom wrought from ancient beliefs can provide a comfort helping to survive chaotic modern life.