January 27th, 2011
I woke up fairly easily (since I felt like I had never gotten into a deep sleep all night) and shook 민기 Min'gi awake so that he could make breakfast (I didn't even bother to try with 혜미 Haemi who is on today's cooking crew, too. It's just not going to happen).
After breakfast when I got to the training center the SBS TV crew was already there. We had our morning class in the Mask Dance Museum (on the second floor), the whole time with the TV camera practically right in my face, or on the floor right under my feet. It was a bit stressful (to say the least). 전광열 Jeon Gwangyeol came to teach us, but didn't talk a lot, I was a bit disappointed about that. At one point Daecheon had the two who will perform on the last day and then me dance in the center of the circle, while holding the real stick, instead of just a little bamboo wand. I did amazingly well (it was hard to follow other's motions from that position) and was very proud of myself, although suddenly using the heavy and long stick was kind of odd. I went to lunch with the TV crew (and 창열 Changyeol) because the lunch for the students was going to be meat. After lunch we sat in the freezing cold main hall and they interviewed me for about 75 minutes without a break. It was so hard. I always doubt my vocabulary at moments like that. Not to mention every other aspect of my Korean. But they kept asking me questions I knew the answer to and had a lot of opinions about.
"Why don't Korean like traditional arts?"
"Uh, Koreans don't even know traditional arts, if they ever watched them with an open mind they'd probably like them a lot."
For afternoon practice, even though it was much colder than yesterday we went back to the quay we practiced on yesterday. My hands got really cold and my leg muscles started freezing up, but it was really awesome, it was sunny (which it hadn't seemed all day, it was only sunny after we got to the ocean, I swear) and a bit breezy and after practicing as a group we had to break down, first three at once, followed by a period of 안대천 An Daecheon helping us with our weak spots, then we had to do it two at a time. I did it was 혜미 Haemi and did pretty well. As we were going to leave Jeon showed up with 호떡 cinnamon sugar stuffed rice pancakes for everyone. We ate them with great relish, then went back to the same place we had snacks the day before and had 막걸리 makgeolli with 떡볶이spicy rice noodles and 오뎅 boiled fish cakes.
The SBS people left (they'll be back tomorrow evening) and I interviewed Changyeol then fell asleep out of pure physical exhaustion. For dinner suddenly Hwang Jong'uk informed us that he'd be taking us all out to dinner, which he did, at a meat buffet. Literally you picked up all the different types of raw meat and grilled it on the table. I had pumpkin rice soup and a lot of 김밥 kimbap, as that was about all that I could eat. It was very very generous of him, taking 25 people (24 other people, because he took out some instructors and all the "The Gwangdae" members as well as us) out to dinner like that was definitely not cheap.
Our group is playing a new game of sorts: at lunch we all drew a name, then the first mission was to send that person a text message. We can't let them or anyone know we drew them, though. Of course since I only had two people's phone numbers, I got someone else. At dinner I went around and got almost everyone's numbers, then sent a lot of text messages to disguise who was my actual person (Min'gi). I still have no idea who drew my name.
Inseon and Minji sat across from me at dinner:
In the evening after dinner everyone assembled in the main building, with Act 5 rehearsing in the small practice room downstairs and the rest upstairs. Changyeol ran through Act 3 (Bibi) with the people who will perform this week, teaching them how to say the dialectical dialogue and where to accent it, as well as stage blocking. A little later 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk came upstairs and oversaw practice, drumming and calling out directions while having a conversation with 혜미 Haemi at the same time. His running commentary exposed his opinion of the motion execution as the 문둥춤 Mundung Dance crew rehearsed the motions in a large circle. The dance is that of a leper with a fair amount of disease progression, showing his hardship and frustration with his physical condition, which at the end of the dance he overcomes enough to actual express joy. I'd learn it, but there is a hint to me, in some of the motions of a very non-PC making fun of the person with the degenerative disease. It especially feels that way when people can't do it very well and they sort of overdo it.
After Hwang watched the four individual dances (not the Old Wife, who is rehearsing with the Act 5 group downstairs), two sets of dancers at a time, he ordered those who would do the final performances to dance, starting with the 말뚝이 Malddugi dancers. The guy who will dance for the other group is really hopeless, both as a dancer and as a memorizer of the set of motions. Oh well. It's not chosen according to who is the best, because if it was, you'd see the repeat students often learning the same thing again and then dancing that for the final performance based on experience, whereas the stress of preparing for the final performance will give some of these younger first year/first time students a huge leg up once they get back to their universities and practice with this groups. Next the 원양반 Won Yangban people came out. Then 승무 monk's dance (the key people in the outer robe so that they could experience the very long sleeves). Last of all was the Mundung dance group. When everyone finished Hwang said "some people are of course better than others. Some work harder. But you need to look in the mirrors and see your motion and try to figure out how to improve your own motion, so that you can do it without looking in the mirror in the future. Read the dialogue and think about the meaning behind the dance and the characters. Why do the rhythmic patterns change, the whole piece shouldn't be exactly the same energy, put the energy in the right place. The dance is important, but the dialogue and stage blocking is also important. If you don't know what it means, you need to ask someone, because you'll never make it come out right, otherwise. Okay? Today watching you guys I can't give you 30 out of 100. You still have a long way to go. Some of you don't even remember the order of motions yet. Tomorrow, practice all day so we can have a good final performance. You understand? You really need to make the motions right with the mirror. If you are uncomfortable with how you look, how do others feel when they watch you? Don't just look at the KNUA students, you're not the same, you should do it your way. 헐!" (Heol is this slang thing these days, it was funny that Hwang said it, although a bit misplaced, according to my understanding.) Then we all bowed and that was the end of the practice.
Back at our rooms another 뒤풀이 duipuli began even though I don't think there was one student who really wanted to drink. The reason for the evening was that the old 조교 jogyo (kind of like a TA but they never teach, just run professorial errands and make copies and answer phones and stuff) had come to see how the students were doing. I made ginger tea and went to sleep pretty early (1:30), but during the night the heat never came back.