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Our History
Yunhak Kim’s Background

Yunhak Kim was born in Seoul, Korea in 1922. He attended school in Tokyo, Japan at the age of 13. From 1938 to 1941, Yunhak Kim studied modern dance under Ishi Baku, a Japanese dancer who studied in Germany and became a pioneer in Western dance in Japan and influenced many Koreans aspiring to be dancers. In 1942, Yunhak Kim was still living in Japan and earned a living with his art while working in Central Post office and studied Korean traditional dance under Bonam Kim, dancer of Iwangjik A–ackpu (a Chosun Dynasty art group) and formerly National Centre for Korean Traditional Performing Arts.

Kim Yunhak Dance Academy (Seoul, Korea)

In August 1945, Yunhan Kim returned to Korea after liberation from the Japanese and immediately founded the Kim Yunhak Dance Academy in Seoul, collaborating with Kibongham and Chuwha Chang in numerous state performances. Additional collaborations were with instructors Inbang Chung and Yongja Cho. In 1948, he became the commissioner for the National Federation of Cultural Organization. In 1950, Yunhak Kim was responsible for the dance units in the army in the arts and culture department; and in the same year, he organized a performance by the Korean Dancers Association at Shigongkwan, formerly the National Art Theatre of Korea, where his own performance was the highlight of the evening. He was also a member of the Korean Dance Association. His work and achievements make him known as a top pioneering leader of Korean cultural dance.

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Influences

From 1946 to 1975, Yunhak Kim continued his work in passing down knowledge and skills to his eager students. Quoted by Heungdong Cho, the former director of the National Dance Company: I met my lifetime teacher, Yunhak Kim, in grade nine. I can remember my encounter with teacher Yunhak so vividly it was a life changing event for me. I was overwhelmed by his performance when I went to his recital for the first time. I found my way to his studio and I begged him to accept me as his student. Teacher Yunhak Kim was deeply impressed by my determination being the only male among about 50 female students. He also kindly arranged for me to receive extra lessons from his daughter Mi Young Kim, who was widely known as a prodigy.

Yunhak Kim also taught at Kyungkee Girls High School along with many other educational institutions. Many of his students displayed excellent talent and placed highly at major dance competitions held by Chosun Daily Newspaper and Yi Hwa University. Among his students were: Min Ku, a famous radio actor; Heungdong Cho, the former director of the National Dance Company, as well as his daughter, Mi Young Kim.

Yunhak Kim’s Repertoire

Through passion and commitment; a record fifteen performances at the National theatres; and a countless nationwide dance curriculum for many years, he helped popularize Korean dance among the younger generation. Some of his original artwork and learned dances include: seungmu and osangpulshim (monk’s dances of varying types), shaman dance, buchaechum (fan dance), keummu (sword dance), kyeonwoojiknyeo (legend of two young lovers), talchum (mask dance), wharangmu (honoured soldier on horseback), village of the flower blossom, chuwolkangsan (harvest moon, river and mountain), and changgochum (hour–glass drum dance).
Yunhak Kim also taught at Kyungkee Girls High School along with many other educational institutions. Many of his students displayed excellent talent and placed highly at major dance competitions held by Chosun Daily Newspaper and Yi Hwa University. Among his students were: Min Ku, a famous radio actor; Heungdong Cho, the former director of the National Dance Company, as well as his daughter, Mi Young Kim.

KDSSC Roots

Some of these dances have been passed down generations and are now being performed by the KDSSC’s Mi Young Kim Dance Company. Yunhak Kim has the distinction of being designated as a Korean National Culture Treasure. He helped transform traditional Korean dance to its present form for the professional stage and inspired new artists to continue in his footsteps. In 1975, he founded a senior dance community, Donam Senior College, and formed relationships with other senior schools in Japan and Taiwan while actively travelling East Asia. He served the senior community until he passed away in 1993 at the age of 73 with his wife and children at his side.

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Korean Dance Studies Society of Canada

The Korean Dance Studies Society of Canada (KDSSC) is a charitable organization, led by artistic director and founder Mi Young Kim in Toronto. KDSSC was founded in 1979 under the name of Mi Young Kim Korean Folk Dance Institute and renamed of KDSSC in 1987 (affiliated with the Mi Young Kim Dance Company for professional dancers). It is dedicated to educating and training young people the rich Korean dance heritage, and to spreading awareness of traditional Korean dance among the Canadian public by staging dynamic performances and all over the world.

The Mi Young Kim Dance Company

The Mi Young Kim Dance Company is the professional dance group portion of the Korean Dance Studies Society of Canada. Working in both traditional and contemporary Korean styles, they perform and conduct workshops throughout Canada. Drawing inspirations from the cultural diversity in this country while keep referring back to her root, Mi Young Kim has done much to develop Korean dance for her multicultural audience. She strives to create a uniquely Korean–Canadian dance style. While Mi Young Kim has won numerous top awards in Korea for her dancing, her dancers have also won prizes in Canada with her choreographies, including gold awards at the Kiwanis Dance Festival of Toronto. In addition to performing actively in the community, the company presents full–evening performances every 2 years, alternating with the Soo Ryu Dance Festival.

The Soo Ryu School of Dance and Drum

The Soo Ryu School of Dance & Drum provides recreational as well as professional training in Korean dance and drum. In our recreational program, popular traditional pieces are taught to students with and without any dance background, from 5 years old to 80 years old. KDSSC’s professional training program is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s National Arts Training Fund Program. Also supported by the Ontario Arts Council, we prepare students in a career in researching, performing and teaching dance.

SooRyu Dance Festival

KDSSC held its first edition seasonal performance under the title SooRyu Dance Festival: Symbiosis in November 2003. The performance demonstrated how harmony of light, movement and sound within dance forms from various cultures could create symbiosis which, in turn, transcends us into another realm and perspective. KDSSC invited special guests including: Jung Ae Noh (Vancouver), Jeffrey Chan (Ontario), William Lau (Ontario), Kozakura Sensui (Ontario) and Zab Maboungou (Montreal). The performance was very successful, particularly Jung Ae Noh’s performance of SangMo Spin, Salpuri and Soko Dance. Since 2004, KDSSC has been invited by Ontario Dance Weekend.

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Influences

From 1946 to 1975, Yunhak Kim continued his work in passing down knowledge and skills to his eager students. Quoted by Heungdong Cho, the former director of the National Dance Company: I met my lifetime teacher, Yunhak Kim, in grade nine. I can remember my encounter with teacher Yunhak so vividly it was a life changing event for me. I was overwhelmed by his performance when I went to his recital for the first time. I found my way to his studio and I begged him to accept me as his student. Teacher Yunhak Kim was deeply impressed by my determination being the only male among about 50 female students. He also kindly arranged for me to receive extra lessons from his daughter Mi Young Kim, who was widely known as a prodigy.

Yunhak Kim also taught at Kyungkee Girls High School along with many other educational institutions. Many of his students displayed excellent talent and placed highly at major dance competitions held by Chosun Daily Newspaper and Yi Hwa University. Among his students were: Min Ku, a famous radio actor; Heungdong Cho, the former director of the National Dance Company, as well as his daughter, Mi Young Kim.