Thursday, January 27, 2011

Practicing by the Ocean

January 26th, 2010
I forgot to mention that last night the instructors told the KNUA students which parts they were doing, more or less, for the performance in April. In some cases they are still deciding between two or even three people, but they told each who needed to practice for which role (although sometimes it's more than one person). For example, 윤만 Yunman has to practice the monk's dance, and 인선 Inseon will not be the old wife, but probably 준영 Junyeong. Which I completely approve of, because it really is a funnier scene when a man plays the role. 민기 Min'gi will probably still do Malddugi.

I decided to do 말뚝이 Malddugi for my individual dance this time, instead of the monk's dance. I wanted to observe (and video-tape) a different teacher's style of teaching, for one thing, but then the normal teacher didn't show up, and instead we had the assistant (in this case 대천 Daecheon). And then the video-camera ran out of batteries after thirty minutes. I have no idea why, I plugged it in yesterday and it was charging, perhaps it was knocked out of the socket a little during the charging process. Such are the snags in my research, and if that's all they are, no sweat. The dance itself is highly energetic, the most energetic of the lead characters in 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae. Malddugi leaps and spins a lot.

After lunch we met Daecheon again, but this time, it was so amazing I won't be able to put it into words—he took us to the ocean and we danced there. Mind you, I'm from an island. I am definitely happiest next to the ocean. We first checked out this hillside park (on a jutting point) where we took photos and these awesome grandmothers shared dried persimmons with us. (The response from one of the other recipients was "Wow, I love Goseong."), then although I had thought Daecheon was kidding, we really did practice on this quay, concrete jutting into the ocean with islands in the distance and sun glittering on the waves. It was cold and there was a light breeze, but it was absolutely invigorating and beautiful.

After we learned the entire dance (not that I remember it, it's really confusing and I'm not used to manipulating the horse-whip which is Malddugi's main prop, yet) we went to the traditional market and I treated everyone to mini-bananas and Daecheon bought us all snacks from the snack stall (순대 stuffed intestine, 오뎅 fish/flour cakes boiled in broth, and deep fried battered veggies and squid). Everyone bonded and decided it was really awesome to be the Malddugi team. On the way back to the van I bought a box of oranges (which Min'gi helpfully carried) for the KNUA students.

During the afternoon I got a series of phone calls from SBS. This was not the same team at SBS who has been talking to me about potentially coming to 임실필봉 Imshil Pilbong training center in two weeks, this was a team who had interviewed me in Andong in the fall. They decided they wanted to come here, talked to the office, and will be here tomorrow. I guess I should figure out what I want to wear, but considering how little I have with me, there are few choices.

After we were back at the training center I tried to find some instructor to interview but everyone was busy teaching the music for Goseong Ogwangdae classes (which I had decided not to do), so I ended up taking a photographic walk on the hill covered with tombs above the Mask Dance Museum and training center. I got good shots of the tall dead grasses in the late late afternoon sun.

After dinner (which was really good) I went to practice Malddugi's dance, especially since SBS is coming to film me tomorrow, which makes me nervous and liable to make more mistakes than normal. Min'gi helped a lot, since he performed part last week, he really has it down, or at least the order of the motions. We practiced for more than two hours, totally sweating, before we called it quits. 전광일 Jeon Gwangil bought ice cream for everyone (of course I didn't eat it, but it was sweet).

성범 Seongbeom has to go back to Seoul, so he came to say goodbye to the students and have a last drink together. He's a pretty serious guy, however, and he ended up sort of chiding the students, first of all because they keep not saying anything about the problems we’ve had with the boiler and it's always me who's saying something. Then he went off about certain people who've skipped classes (sickness or because of drinking and 정우 Jeong-u even had to miss the performance last week to go to a friend's wedding, which he missed because he left too late. At any rate, he did point out (as he said in his interview to me) that they don't actually dance that well, and they're beginning professionals, so they certainly should do better. I love his honesty, and it's good for the students, but it's hard to hear, too. At about the time he was leaving 창열 Changyeol appeared, in high spirits and at least half drunk. He proceeded to drink with the students who had the stamina to stay awake until 4 or so in the morning. I went down at 2, but it was a really bad night of sleep with very drunk people coming in and out, cooking and receiving phone calls (all night phones were ringing, I swear).

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