Friday, September 3, 2010

Typhoon Kompasu Comes Calling

September 2nd, 2010
Typhoon Kompasu came calling in the night. Around 2:30 rain was blowing in and onto our faces (the window in our bedroom has a sort of privacy screen and it’s on the side of the building with our neighboring buildings that are higher than us, so usually things don’t blow in from that side). At 6 something Karjam woke me up because he heard a loud noise. Getting up to investigate I found that the front door had blown open. I went back to bed, but then the door to the roof crashed open again and I knew it was that instead. Putting on enough clothing to be somewhat decent I ascended the rain slicked really weird ladder to the roof and tried to close the door, Karjam joined me and managed to get it locked again. The wind was howling. Going to meet 현지수Jisu for lunch I was not surprised at the number of downed limbs and trees, the world was dusted with leaves and debris, and news showed that fishing boats had blown ashore, windows had shattered and trees had landed on various things allover Korea.

In the afternoon I waited at the subway station in humidity that had sweat dripping down my neck until finally Kathy found a cell phone to borrow—she had gone to the wrong stop. I met her outside the Intangible Cultural training center and we went in to the 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum office, it turned out that an outfit through them for one of the dances is 400,000 or so, and the masks are also about that much, which of course would blow Kathy’s whole budget, finally we determined that she would rent one mask, buy the little baby puppet and buy an outfit. She put down a deposit and followed along in the Bongsan Talchum class. There were fewer people, but some who hadn’t been there on Monday were more advanced. At any rate, it was a good rehearsal but really tired me out. When class ended Kathy and I sat in the hallway and listened to the guy next practice room over practice the 판소리 pansori epic 적벽가 Tale of the Red Cliff. When he took a break I found out he’d been training for more than twenty years.


Photo: Kim Eunju on the drum with several students in 2006. We use this room to practice on Mondays, but currently not on Thursdays.

A point to make that I noticed because Kathy was there—김은주 Kim Eunju is partially such a good teacher because she always says everything the same way. She is often talking us through it as she drums and we dance, and she will call out each move and she never varies her vocabulary. This makes it (once you learn what the move is called) really easy to sort of fake your way along even when you don’t remember well enough to do it on your own. As for me, I’m able to remember my way through 먹중 4 and 7 (the role of the dark faced monks number 4 and 7), and of course the standard movement set, and getting better on the rest. Remembering my way through 4 and 7 doesn’t mean I’m doing them perfectly, just that I’m now able to start thinking about the details not just what comes next. Back in 2006 I knew all of the dark faced monks except 1 (which is rarely taught), some of the grandmother’s dance and all of the 상좌 sangjwa, the novice nun dance.

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