Buddhist monks inspire crowd with dance, chants

by Jennifer Hallquist, The Lantern, Oct 29, 2007

Ohio, USA -- Ohio State hosted a traditional Korean Buddhist monk group that performed a special dance honoring Buddha Friday night.

Buddhist monks from the Young San Preservation Group performed a two-hour traditional song and dance to a full Hughes Hall auditorium.

"It's a devotional performance. These people are nationally renowned for specializing in these chants," said Chan E. Park-Miller, professor of East Asian languages and literature.

Buddhism dates back to the fourth century. The dance and chants have been recorded only by memory and have been passed down from generations of Buddhist monks.

The group, led by Dong Hee, has traveled to the United States several times since 2000. On this tour, the group went to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and will be visiting New York to perform at the American Museum of Natural History next week.

Hee said she has been performing the ritualistic dance since she was 6 years old. The group has been under her direction for more than 50 years. She said members always come and go, but most of the members have been with her for more than 25 years.

The evening began with a procession leading into a cymbal dance that symbolized the beginning of the ceremony. The monks, changing robes with every new song, led the audience through slow, peaceful dances and chants.

"There are many ways we enjoy and play music. (This group) displays the commitment and teachings of Buddha through song and dance," Park-Miller said.

She said that although most of the people in the audience were not Buddhist, they could still enjoy the inspiring devotion and harmony the monks displayed.