Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goseong Ogwangdae Mask Dance Intensive- Basic Motions

January 17th, 2011
It was hard to sleep, since the heater apparently will only get our room just so warm. With two blankets –and- the small blanket I brought from Seoul with long underwear, a shirt, tank top AND hat on, I was able to sleep reasonably well. The room had heated up to 12 degrees (c.) by the morning. Around 18-20 would be my choice, and many people keep their houses or offices around 25. Thanks be it's warmer here than in Seoul.

All day on Monday I was one of the three cooks, together with 정운 Jeong-un and 태환 Taehwan. For breakfast we made fermented bean paste soup with tofu and veggies with egg rolls, for lunch we made kimchi stew (with tuna) and for dinner mandu stew (I ate leftover bean paste soup instead). We were also the clean-up crew. With other groups I observed a rotation per meal as the regular state of affairs, but this group didn't see that as necessary, and I have to admit I like the fact that I'm done with my tasks in terms of food and clean up (unless I want) until next Monday.

We had a meeting first thing in the morning with each group giving a brief introduction, 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk led a brief opening ceremony followed by an address by 이윤석 Yi Yunseok, the National Human Treasure for the group. The various groups were ordered to sing or otherwise entertain us, and one of the KNUA members sang a section from 적벽가 Jeokbyeokga, one of the five extant 판소리 pansori epics, he did a good job. The other presentations were not connected to traditions, however. Then the group was roughly divided into two parts and ordered to do the entire basic motion set. Because of practicing at 봉천놀이마당 Bongcheon Noli Madang, if I have someone to follow along with, then I don't have a problem. However, ironically the group I was part of (the second group) had not one student who had successfully memorized the basic motions (or who still remembered them). It was ridiculous and embarrassing for the arts university—on the other hand as I told several people last night, they are not mask dance majors, or all but one of them are not. The one who is a major is the other mask dance major besides 원중 Wonjung to get entry to the university this year. She started 강령탈춤 Gangnyeong Talchum when she was in third grade, although she hastened to assure me that she had several significant periods where she wasn't participating.

After the first run through disaster everyone followed along while Yi Yunseok explained (a lot) and had us follow his motions (a little). Yi's very amusing—he used to frighten me, he's silver haired and dignified seeming and he barks (unexpectedly and not connected to anger). Throughout the day he had three primary things that he kept yelling and making us repeat:
베기 : 귀신을 베는 사위 -- be-gi : which could be interpreted as getting rid of ghosts or malevolent spirits, but he explained that in the modern world it refers to any sort of thing you need to get rid of, not just ghosts.
으시개 : 어깨를 들썩들썩 움직임 eushigae: a sort of up and down shrugging type motion with the shoulders—motion of the shoulders is essential to proper performance of 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae
배김새 : 마음을 한곳으로 모아서 떨처내는 사위 baegimsae: the name of this one type of motion that occurs in the mask dance in several different times where you slap your hands onto your knees, it's a very distinctive motion from the mask dance drama
He also barked a lot of other random things, and both students and the crew of 이수자/ 전수자 isuja and jeonsuja (third and fourth ranked in the preservation association) admitted they often cannot understand him. If one looks past the barking, however, it's obvious that he's a sweetheart and just quite unusual in his manner of speech. After Yi explained 도수 Dongsu, one of the isuja, led us through the earliest motions in the set of basic motions.

Next was lunch. I explained the menu above, but annoyingly we were out of rice, we didn't have enough for everyone's meal, and I was actually only about half full after eating. Which was really sad because the kimchi stew (I cooked it) was really awesome. Everyone else thought so, too. The reason for the rice issue is that on Saturday one of the students sent 20 kg of rice by delivery service, but it hasn't arrived yet. A lot of our food is arriving by delivery from parents. Giant batches of various side dishes have already appeared. However, in my experience, it would not be a real intensive camp experience without some sort of problems with the food!

The afternoon was exactly the same—first some students had to sing or what not, then Yi teaching us with a lot of talking (and occasional barks) and then Dongsu teaching us with much less talking and a lot more just repeat and repeat of the motions. At 4:30 we had a yoga class for an hour. It was really funny because they said yoga, and leisure in Korean is 여가 yeoga, which sounds almost the same as 요가 yoga. So I kept thinking that at 4:30 we'd be left to our leisure. At any rate, the yoga teacher was a long haired gentleman in his early 50s who was slightly more flexible than me! I liked the class. Believe it or not, my first ever yoga class (I've only taken pilates once, in case you were wondering).

After dinner we went back for more class, although first I stopped in 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk's office and did a 10 minute internet check and a 20 minute explanation to 허창열 Heo Changyeol, an isuja, how he could structure his master's thesis. He's very much in an MFA type program where his activities have been just that, activities, with very little writing, so he's a bit intimidated by the thesis and has already put of graduation because he can't figure out quite what to do. He explained what he wanted to write about and I helped him outline how he could make that topic into both something that was academic and that was long enough to get him the diploma. It was actually a fun conversation. Besides, I really like Changyeol. I immediately found he was a sort of kindred spirit from the first time I talked with him. After I joined the group upstairs I found that Dongsu had returned to continue teaching the next part of the basic motion set. After he finished teaching I stayed with 진규 Jin'gyu, the most senior of the KNUA students at 30 (Korean age), he is a recent graduate. He knows Goseong Ogwangdae the best out of the students, so we practiced together with some of the other people including the women who work for Noridan, a social enterprise that has a performing arts division (they aren't performers, though). The leader of their group of three is the best mask dancer amongst every student of the classes this week. Her motions are really awesome. Honestly I thought that Jin'gyu shouldn't have been trying to teach her, but I think he felt as a man or an arts budding-professional a desire to assert his knowledge. Or maybe he just hadn't noticed she was the only person clearly better than him.

I thought it was going to be a really early night with sleep catch up for me, but then around 11 or a little after Changyeol, 김성범 Kim Seongbeom (isuja), 안대천 An Daecheon (isuja) and another guy who I think is also a jeonsuja showed up at our accommodations and I ended up sitting with them and drinking some 막걸리 makgeolli. Changyeol is one year younger than the group that includes Daecheon and Seongbeom. I've met all of them before through performances and various events but this is the first time I've had a chance to get to know them. Last time I had training at Goseong Ogwangdae there weren't any of the younger isuja and jeonsuja around with the exception of Dongsu. I will find out more about why they're around now (I suspect a connection to the KNUA students, since Daecheon and Changyeol are KNUA grad students who already finished the bachelor's program these students are in). I also hope to interview all of them. The conversation over drinks was wide ranging but mostly irreverent and funny coupled with too much discussion of military service (the others at the table were all men, since most are mid to late twenties, military service is still a hot topic.

Part of the view on the commute from where we stayed to the training hall:

Jeon Gwangyeol (instructor for Malddugi and generally for blocking Act 2):

Interesting Face (another team, never caught his name):

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