December 12th, 2010
Karjam and I went to a performance at KOUS with eight big name Korean Traditional genre dancers performing. I wasn’t sure we’d go until the last minute, then everything worked against us getting there on time (like there was a huge fire on a construction site next to the road so there was a huge traffic jam) and we missed part of the first piece. But I think it was worth the 20,000 won tickets. If Karjam knew they were 20,000 each I don’t think he’d agree, his feeling is that the dancers are too old, that it would be better to watch young beautiful men or women dancing. I was amazed throughout the entire performance at how young each dancer moved (most were in their 70s, the youngest were in their 60s or perhaps late 50s). I sometimes feel that some of the older performers need to retire from active performance and let their protégé take the spotlight, but I would only say that was true for two out of the eight soloists and my feeling may be tinged by my (lesser) interest in the specific dances those two were doing.
There was an MC, the same excellent MC as did Saturday at the mask dance festival in late October, 진옥섭 Jin Okseop. He’s really great, but part of his introductions to the pieces were joking and playful, not necessarily usefully contextualizing. In fact I felt he needed to include more basic information, although for an audience willing to spend between 10 and 30 dollars to see that performance, well, the audience was already pretty familiar with Korean performing arts, they had a certain level of knowledge, I’m assuming, so perhaps he was just trying to avoid talking down to anyone.
The best performance was of 도살풀이 Do-salpuri. The dance is one that I am pretty tired of seeing, as I’ve mentioned before, and there were three salpuri performances (호남살풀이, 살풀이, 도살풀이) during the evening, but the one danced by 양길순 Yang Gilsun, the Do-salpuri was really amazingly beautiful. Do-salpuri uses a very long scarf, instead of a shorter one or even two scarves. Yang's dance was full of feeling, much more and I think the audience would have been crying. I was also really surprised by the lively, fast, flirtatious performance of 태평무 Taepyeongmu by 이명자 Yi Myeongja, despite her stage make-up Yi looked positively ancient, but her dancing was that of a twenty-year-old. She was just spell-binding. I had gone expecting to be most impressed by a couple of the other performances, it was nice to have my expectations exceeded in the case of the two performers mentioned above.
After the show Karjam and I bought a pair of shoes for him to exercise in, and I bought a couple presents.
Photo: Yang Gilsun's Do-salpurichum:
Photo: Karjam with the wasteful but pretty lights on the trees outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel