Shinmuyong (ca. 1926) By Son, Okju
Shinmuyong means literally “New Dance” in Korean, but today it is categorized as creative Korean dance. In the early 20th century, Ausdruckstanz (Expressionist Dance) from Germany had a decisive influence on Japanese modern dancers. This kind of dance was introduced to Korea in 1926 when Japanese dance innovator Ishii Baku (1886–1962) presented his work for the first time in Korea under the title of Shinmuyong, which was a translation of the German phrase Neuer Tanz. However, the meaning of the Shinmuyong changed radically in the 1930s and 1940s. After Ishii’s performance in Korea, several young Korean intellectuals decided to learn Western modern dance from Ishii in Japan. Although they learned modern dance especially based on German Ausdruckstanz, they choreographed their own dances with elements of traditional Korean dance in the 1930s. Furthermore, after a world tour in the late 1930s, the Shinmuyong dancers actively turned to creating a hybrid Asian dance form in the 1940s, so that Shinmuyong became a composite form. Choi Seung-hee (1911–1969) and Cho Taek-won (1907–1976), amongst others, are considered important representatives of Shinmuyong.