Saturday, August 14, 2010

Songpa Dari Balpgi

August 14th, 2010

Yay! A day with real research at last! Okay, I had a wonderful couple of hours. I hung out with Karjam, introduced him to the landlady, took him to the store where we’ll buy our usual stuff, made him food, then ran off.

While he used the internet and relaxed I went to 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli practice. This group is the group I am actually a member of, and closest to of all the groups I work with. I arrived a good 15 minutes late (uncharacteristic of me, but living in a new place meant a different route, which meant a miscalculation on time, plus I left a little late cause of getting Karjam all set up). It was shocking, because this has never happened before, I walked into the half basement practice room and there were 25 people sitting in a quiet circle while one of the members (one of the 전수교육조교 whose name is escaping me at the minute) wrote on the board. I think things had just started, because I caught on. Songpa Sandae Noli is closely affiliated (share an office, practice space, one part time employee etc.) with the group 송파다리밟기 Songpa Dari Balpgi. In fact the later is pretty small potatoes, it’s only registered as an intangible cultural asset at the city level (Songpa Sandae Noli is national). Anyway, when they have a performance, which only happens a couple times a year, they basically take all our players to do the minor parts and the few star parts that make Songpa Dari Balpgi unique are played by the members of their preservation association. Songpa Dari Balpgi is having a performance on the 29th, and we are all learning how to be part of it. As the one jogyo explained the way the performance would play out, I snuck glances around the room, excited to see all my Songpa friends. Maybe to them I’m not a friend- no one is born in my birth year or near it, for starters, but if they were American, we’d say we were friends. In particular I feel that way about 이수환 Yi Suhwan, one of the most complex personalities in the group and the office manager (also a great performer) 김영숙 Kim Yeongsuk. After the meeting I was shaking hands and bowing and saying “I’ll be here a year” for five minutes straight, then as we filed outside Yi Suhwan cornered me.
“What are you doing on Tuesday?”
“I’ll be in 필봉Pilbong for an intensive class.”
“Do you have to be? There is a performance of 진도 씻김굿 on a small island off 진도, as a big memorial…”

Wow, I was so sorry to tell him I couldn’t go. I’ve never been to that island, I really like that shamanic rite, and I would love to go to something that perhaps won’t be overrun with media and sight-seers. Pilbong will be great, though. I’m sure of it, even without my wonderful 개전연 Gaejeonyeon friends.

Suddenly Yeongsuk was grabbing me,
“Yidal (시이달 is my Korean name, so for friends that’s 이달), you’re going to ~~~ (I didn’t understand it).”
“What?”
“Just follow 규식Gyushik, he’ll show you what to do.”
This is a problem since in the entire group, Gyushik is the MOST tongue tied around me.He’s a likeable guy, the only regular member who is younger than me other than the son of one of the two 인간문화재 Human Treasures, but either he’s too dumb to notice that others speak Korean with me no problem, or he’s just socially a dork. I think it’s the latter. One time I tried to interview him. It was like two minutes of hemming and hawing and throat-clearing on the file. He had agreed to be interviewed but it was like he had nothing to say or couldn't understand my questions. That was in 2006. I haven't tried to interview him since. Today, though, I tried to just copy him, occasionally asking questions (we were obviously going to be holding something as we danced), “Do we switch the hand we hold it in when we change directions?” Of course Gyushik didn’t understand. If I knew the word instead of “it” the sentence may have been clearer, though. By the second run-through I basically understood. Of course, for the second run-through Gyushik was gone, spending the whole time trying to teach some raw recruits how to carry dancing children on their shoulders (no one will be likely to return after being asked to carry a dancing child for 40 minutes on their shoulders, hence, raw recruits). Fortunately there is one more practice before the performance, because only the hour and a half of movement today was not enough.

Songpa Sandae Noli performs next week, I’ll be there to watch that on Sunday, then the following Saturday rehearsal for Songpa Dari Balpgi, then that performance will be on the 29th.

Photos: The wide angle photo shows where we were practicing today (I was thankful for the cover when it rained heavily, but it's still essentially outside in the heat and high humidity), the vertical photo show Gyushik dancing, the other is just for fun. All taken in the past, of course.



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