Shamanistic Dance, Purposeful Ecstasy

The dance of the shamanistic gut ceremonies may look spontaneous, even completely improvised. However, it has its own rules and regulations. Its main elements are soft steps, flowing arm movements and whirling.

It is during the dance that the shamans get in contact with the spirit world. During the whirling movements directed to the left, the shaman is able to connect this world with that of the spirits. The shaman’s dance also aims to entertain the spirits.

It seems that it is the shamanistic dance that has given Korean dance in general its easily recognisable style and technique. The energy flows from the chest area through the extended arms to the hands and fingers. This kind of ecstatic, almost trance-like emotion is typical of many of the Korean traditional dances.

This particular feature, derived from shamanism, is called shinmyon. It indicates the moment when a god or a spirit approaches the shaman performer. The experience is manifested by a deep, almost painful emotion and by the uplifted arms.