Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guest Lecture about Korean Mask Dances

November 17th, 2010
Wednesday is my day off, but when scheduling a time to have a drumming lesson with 이연순 Yi Yeonsun it was the only day that worked. So in the afternoon I went to meet her at a community center where she’d just ended a class. The idea was that we could keep using the room. Unfortunately, someone else had scheduled use of the room and she didn’t find out until during her class when they came to set up. She called me but I was already on my way, so we agree to meet and talk. I ended up interviewing her for 2 hours. No exaggeration, more than 2 hours of conversation was recorded. It was an amazing interview, only something possible because I’ve proven my interest, knowledge and discretion. The contents of the interview would be much less interesting to you than to me, and much of it will need to be kept confidential, but most importantly she gave me a good foundation for other interviews and some real honest feedback on how performances are being protected for future generations.

In the evening Karjam and I went on a quick trip to a 국악사 traditional musical instrument shop where I picked up two more 한삼 hansam to use with my Thursday guest lecture. Then we romantically strolled by the lantern exhibit set up in 청계천 Cheonggae Stream.

Cell phone photo of a sangmo wearing sogo playing lantern-guy:


November 18th, 2010
This morning Professor Hilary Finchum-Sung’s class was on 풍물 pungmul for the first half, a subject I already know a lot about, obviously. I brought my 열두발 yeoldubal and 상모 sangmo and two 소고 sogo so the students could try them during the break time. Then I got to do a guest lecture on mask dance dramas for the second half of the class, which was a really awesome opportunity, I’m so grateful I had that chance (even just thinking about it while preparing was great for me, since I’ve never had a chance to do a short lecture on mask dances). I used a PowerPoint and the video on release through laughter in the mask dances dramas that I referred to making a couple days ago. After answering their questions (more than an average of two questions each) I handed out my hansam and taught them some motions. It went really well, except I wasn’t happy with how thin and nasal my voice sounded, and I answered some questions in an unnecessarily drawn out manner (if I’d only thought it through first…). Karjam came and filmed the entire thing.

After class Hilary bought us lunch, then Karjam and I went to the National Museum of Korea to see the special exhibition of Goryeo Dynasty Buddhist paintings. The paintings were really impressive, but the exhibit lights were too low and even on a Thursday afternoon it was much too crowded for my tastes. We rushed home and I left again ten minutes later to go to my new class.

My second class at 봉천놀이마당 Bongcheon Noli Madang went well. Up until about 2003 Yeonsun was a member, she’d been with the group for many years, and it turned out that the woman, 미경 Migyeong, who got Karjam and I free tickets to the dance performance a while back was there this evening, and the conversation with her uncovered the fact that the announcer that evening had been 지원 Jiwon, one of the key members and the drumming instructor for the group. 장미이 Jang Mi’i talks constantly as she teaches, explaining each motion, and its meaning, and then again and again as we repeat. She is either talking or counting out loud at all times. I find this a bit hard to take, and want to concentrate more on the motion and don’t need each fine detail of the motion explained to me, I’d rather do it three times instead of once with talking, at which point I would expect to be doing it properly based on watching carefully. Maybe it’s just because Korean isn’t my native language so paying attention to what is said may be more distracting for me than it is for most people. The others had learned a fair stretch of the choreographed basic motion set on Tuesday, I had to catch up and learn the new set of motions, but it was fun. Someday I may be good at 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae. We had 8 participants (a much more manageable sized group) including Jang Mi’i, Jiwon who did our drumming and 김선우 Kim Seonu who is the go-to office, drummer, secondary dance instructor sort of person. I also found out that she’s only a year younger than me, which is surprising; she comes off as still in her 20s. After class ended we sat in a circle, evaluated class (while Seonu made notes) and had hot tea and cookies and other snacks.

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