경계의 미학: 최승희의 삶과 근대체험
Border Aesthetics: Choe Sung-hui's Life and the Modern Experience

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서울대학교 비교문화연구소
비교문화연구, Vol.11 No.2, pp. 173-206
한국의 근대성Modernity in Korea경계의 미학스펙터클Spectacle시각문화Visual Culture식민지성Coloniality
글과 사진을 통한 최승희와의 만남은 의외의 것이었다. 1930년대 일본과 조선은 물론 세계적 스타였던 최승희를 동시대의 관객으로 만날 수도 없었을 뿐 더러 무용전공자도 무용학자도 아닌 내가 최승희에 대해 알고 있던 것은 마치 요즘 10대들이 1960년대를 풍미했던 대중가수 이미자에 대해 갖고 있는 관심과 지식 정도였다.

최승희에 대한 연구를 시작하게 된 일차적인 동기는 부채춤에 대한 관심에서였다. 한국관광공사가 제작해온 관광포스터에 대한 연구를 통해 한국의 이미지가 여성, 특히 부채춤을 추는 여성의 이미지로 빈번히 표상화 된 것을 알게 되었고 이를 바탕으로 부채춤의 기원과 의미에 대해 좀더 심도 있는 연구를 생각하고 있던 차였다.

가장 먼저 마주친 자료는 부채춤의 효시에 대한 논란이었다. “월북무용가 최승희를 재조명 한다”라는 특집기사로 1989년 9월호 월간잡지 『객석』에서 나온 것이다. 여러 기사 속에서 부채춤이 최승희의 것이냐 아니면 김백봉의 것이냐 하는 것이 주요 논란이었지만 나의 관심은 그 기사보다는 최승희의 삶과 예술에 대한 전기적 사실과 여러 인물들의 증언이었다. 『객석』의 특집기사는 당시 무용계에 적지 않은 반향을 일으켰고 이후 90년대로부터 현재에 이르기까지 본격적인 최승희 연구의 서막을 올린 것이었다. 이렇게 시작된 최승희 입기는 애당초 가졌던 부채춤에 대한 자료조사를 넘어 그녀의 전기적 자료와 관련 연구로 이어졌다.

The central question of this research is to probe the connection between Choe Sung-hui and the modern. The life of Choe Sung-hui more than any other, must be understood under the larger rubric of the period and structure. Choe Sung-hui, who was dubbed "the dancer of the peninsula," "Korean dancer", and "the world dancer," was, without question, the most famous figure of that period. How can Choe Sung-hui's success be explained? Her success is intimately linked with modem conditions and her life offers an important clue in shedding light on how she and her contemporaries experienced the modem both as a system and as an ideology. Choe Sung-hui is a single individual but at the same time, a complex icon produced by numerous audiences, critics and the spirit of that period.

Based on existing researches, this research attempts to connect the "visual," the nucleus of the modem experience with Choe Sung-hui's dance and her life. In other words, Choe Sung-hui lived the most spectacular life of that period and through her we can arrive at an understanding of what a spectacle meant, examine its rise and view its power within the space of the modern.

First of all, Choe Sung-hui crosses many national borders that were impossible for anyone else. She toured all over the United States and Europe, crossed borders of South American countries that most Koreans must have not even heard of. She crossed not only national borders but borders in genre.

Choe Sung-hui reinterpreted traditional dance that dwelled either in the pleasure quarters, farmers' dances, or circus mask dances to dance that is performed on stage. Her dance also freely crossed the lines between the Eastern and Western dance. Tradition has become newly defined through her. For Choe Sung-hui, who had successfully reinterpreted traditional elements into dance, there was no past to which she had to return. Tradition was a mere extension of the endlessly re-interpreting and developing modem projects.

Choe Sung-hui's border crossing should be noted from the vintage point of a dancer as well as that of a modern woman [shin yosong]. She was thoroughly aware of women's new position in a feudalistic male-centered society and in her lucid consciousness pursued her marriage and dance activities.

This paper focused on Choe Sung-hui not simply because she was a great dancer but because she anguished over how to resolve the relationship between tradition and modem, and moreover she was a citizen of the third world who had the courage to suggest her own philosophy and practice.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Institute of Cultural Studies(비교문화연구소)비교문화연구비교문화연구 vol.11 no.1/2 (2005)
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