The Busan town Dongnae is mentioned in the names of three renowned things: Dongnae Hot Springs, Dongnae-style green onion pancake, and Dongnae Crane Dance. The popularity of Dongnae Hot Springs before then resulted in the development of the area’s recreational culture, where people can enjoy playing, singing, and dancing.
The Dongnae Tug-of-War is a festival held around the 15th day of the first lunar month. After the three-day festival, people set up to start dancing, a usual practice after a big event. The Dongnae Crane Dance originated in the yard, a venue for battle-like dance performances, where a famous dancer donning a white coat and a black hat demonstrated the Deotbaegi Dance, looking like a dancing crane.
As seen in its origin story, the Dongnae Crane Dance is not merely a crane imitation, but the use of the animal as a symbol in the dance developed from the Dongnae area’s Dance of Prodigals. Because the area is home to many cranes, the residents are familiar with their movement. This allows for the dance’s realistic depiction by wearing a white coat and a hat while playing musical instruments, such as kkwaenggwari (small gong), janggo (hourglass-shaped drums), jing (large gong), and drums.
The group of dancers enters the stage with nimble movements, donning white coats and hats, representing the crane’s body and head, respectively, with their sleeves fluttering as if their flapping wings. The addition of pungmul’s joyous melodies (Korean traditional percussion instruments) and the songs of the singer sounding like a crane’s cry guides you slowly but swiftly to the Dongnae Crane Dance’s dreamlike world. Despite the dance’s basic form and system, its charm lies in the dancer’s spontaneous expression of excitement and style. There are no limits to the Dongnae Crane Dance’s number of performers and duration.
Nowadays, the Dongnae Crane Dance is passed down and performed everywhere—from Busan’s big events to the smaller ones. They provide free trials and basic training programs, along with lectures to properly learn Dongnae Crane Dance and clubs established by people who were mesmerized by the dance. Although the traditional dance seems complicated, improvisation is deeply valued, encouraging more people to learn and enjoy it as a hobby.
The Dongnae Crane Dance is considered complete when the music by the Pungmul Band (Korean traditional percussion band) and the singer’s song are added. Dongnae Crane Dance is the world of trance created through the trinity of music, sound, and dance.