The dances performed in Jongmyo Jerye are called Ilmu. "Il" means a line and present Ilmu dances are performed by a group of 84 dancers, 8 in each line and row, so they are also called Palilmu. Pal means eight. Originally in the early Joseon Dynasty days, Yukilmu (yuk means six) was performed by 36 dancers, but after the Empire of Daehan was declared in the late 19th century, this was promoted to Palilmu, as it is now.

Ilmu consists of two types of dance, Munmu and Mumu. Munmu is danced to the music of Botaepyeong, with Yak (a three-holed bamboo flute) in the left hand and Jeok (a pheasant-feather tasseled wooden bar) in the right hand. It is a dance of civilian tastes. Mumu is a military dance, with those in the front four rows holding wooden swords and the rear four rows wooden spears. It involves fast, forcible moves.