August 28th, 2010
Karjam and I took the 새마울 Saemaeul train back to Seoul. The Saemaeul is 5 bucks more each than the bus would be, but the KTX (express) train is even more, and I can’t justify that expense. It was raining heavily again when we disembarked and we took a taxi home where I grabbed a hurried lunch.
I was supposed to be at rehearsal for 송파다리 밟기 Songpa Dari Balpgi (Songpa Bridge Crossing Ceremony) at 2:30, but didn’t get there until 2:45, fortunately I was not the only person from my group that was late. After giving 김영숙 Kim Yeongsuk some grapes I went to the practice room. We all stretched and then did basic beginning exercises for 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli, with 함완식 Hahm Wanshik drumming and 이병옥 Yi Byeongok leading the dancers, then Hahm had the latecomers do a separate set led by a different senior member. When I danced, I stuck close behind the most experienced dancers, but felt very awkward, it’s been so long since I danced. Sitting down while the second group practiced I was told by my neighbor, 서병무 Seo Byeongmu, that I should “let the sleeves be so heavy that you can’t lift the arms all the way” “let it be a last minute tip-over when you conquer the weight of the sleeves, not a continuous smooth motion” (many of the characters in Songpa Sandae Noli are wearing huge loose sleeves) “keep moving from the compression and extension of the knees.” Perhaps it’s fortunate I’m not such a good dancer, because I get to observe even more how things are taught as a result of needing correction. My group danced beginning motions once more, 안병인 Ahn Byeong’in began the rehearsal with more explanation using the white board and diagrams. The students recruited to be part of 송파다리밟기 Songpa Dari Balpgi are according to Yeongsuk (sitting by me during the meeting) almost all majors in Korean percussion (타악) in university, they are attending several different schools, some of which don’t have 타악 to the best of my knowledge—Ewha, Suwon, Chugae and Danguk Universities are represented. My group is the 등롱 group, or lantern bearers. There are 8 of us, 4 pairs. As the entire performance is explained what we do is “go forward for 2 장단 jangdan (rhythmic pattern, so go forward for two entire cycles of, for example, a 12 beat rhythmic pattern), go right for 4 jangdan” and so on. Then we change what we’re doing following directions like this: “자전모리 나오면…” “When the Jajeonmori jangdan starts then…” We practiced all the way through, twice, with a break in the middle during which time my lantern team continued to practice, and afterwards we also practiced more. I hung out in the office with 탄종원 Tan Jongwon and Yeongsuk for awhile afterwards, getting the dates of the upcoming shows and listening to gossip about who was screwing up the rehearsal and probably the performance (not to be repeated here of course), and then we went to a restaurant for dinner.