Organized Panel Session
The arts have long been intertwined with practices of nationalism and national representation. Governments use the arts to advance narratives, to create powerful unifying images, and to represent the nation as unique, rich in history and culture, and attractive to domestic and foreign populations. Different South Korean governments in shifting circumstances, understanding the power of the arts to sway hearts and minds, have long sought to control artistic production and messages through censorship and access to opportunities for funding and prestige. This panel takes as its focus conceptualization of nationalism and national subjecthood as reflected in dance practices in the Republic of Korea. Two papers address the immediate post-colonial era as the Republic of Korea sought to define itself, and two address how dancers interact with a desired Korea in the 2010s. The powerful arresting visuals created through displays of collective synchronized movement can be symbolically harnessed to create an image of Korea that is modern and cosmopolitan (as in the adaptation of ballet), to show the power in shared roots and national traditions (as in the development of "traditional dance"), and to promote Korea to non-Koreans through embodiment of Korean popular music (as in K-pop cover dance). The same symbolic power in dance can also be utilized as a corrective – focusing energy on governmental failures (as in dance in impeachment protests). These different dance activities involve fundamentally different embodied practices, genealogies, and regimes of training and performance. As such they perform fundamentally different notions of culture and nation.