Monday, February 7, 2011

Spinning the Sangmo (again)

February 7th, 2011
I am particularly happy as I type up my report for the day. There are ten people in the 상모 sangmo class, and I'm the third best! The best two are 진영 Jinyeong from the Ewha University team and 범준 Beomjun (who as I mentioned yesterday was with me last summer and in Seoul). I'm not sure which of them is better- it probably depends on the move, but I think probably Jinyeong is overall a stronger sangmo person. At any rate, four or five are trying sangmo for the first time and the others have had very little experience. The best of these, 종화 Jonghwa from the Hallym University team, is where I was at in about the end of September. The instructor 이재정 Yi Jaejeong has been an 이수자 isuja for the past 15 years. He has been doing traditional performance for 21 years and is the same age is me. I was told last night that he taught sangmo to all the current sangmo teachers (who weren't available to teach us), and that he was very "scary." I don't think he's scary at all, his class is really comfortable.

First thing in the morning he determined who was a total beginner and had them take off their sangmo and put it back on to his satisfaction. At this point he announced that we needed a class captain. And I became the captain which is sort of funny, especially since without Jinyeong and Beomjun I'd have no idea what to do. Jaejeong took us through some exercises and told me to lead the group through the same exercises before each class (morning and afternoon) for twenty minutes. After the exercises he split us according to whether we could or could not spin, and then asked us to do several spins, I was between Jinyeong and Beomjun, and acquitted myself fairly well. He then had the three of us keep working together. We had to do 500 circles of 양사위 yangsaui (both sides), and I only lost the spin about 3 times! He had us work on the same thing with beating the 소고 sogo, then we had to do a lot of forward and back marching while spinning but –not- bending our knees (he has a point, I'm not sure what it is yet). We had to march 1,2,3,4 for each beat, then we had to march 1,2 (two beats per step) then we had to march 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 to only 4 beats! Which was really hard, especially when we were doing it in reverse. This is all while we're doing two spins on each side (1,2 looking right 3,4 looking left). At first we were doing this while hitting the sogo (1,2 at waist level, raise to face level, 4) later after we learned this super fast sogo beating technique, we were supposed to do the same. I really didn't do well at this, because I kept tensing up, and as I tensed up, then I wasn't relaxed enough to move fast. Frustrating … At the end of the day Jaejeong had all of us work on the steps for the giant spinning jumping move that is the highlight and pride of any sangmo dancer.

After class we had to watch a video of a performance that I was present at (I appear in the video), we had to watch the same video in week 3, and 인하 Inha was with us in week 3, and has been here the entire time (from week 1), so I wonder how many times she's seen it.

After dinner starting at 7:00 we had our individual practice. Usually at this time people practice with the members of their team, but the practice for sangmo students is for the sangmo students to keep working together. Around 8:00 we finally had all 10 members of our class. In my position as captain I brought everyone together and we introduced ourselves and played a Korean game for name memorization. Which I had never done before, and I sucked, so I lost—this means I have to buy refreshments for practice tomorrow. But we learned everyone's name. In addition to Beomjun and Jinyeong, the other members (I know you don't care, but this is where I make my notes to remember things later for when I'm writing my dissertation…) are 서민수 Seo Minsu, 구윤회 Gu Yunhoi, 안의영 An Uiyeong, 김형준 Kim Hyeongjun, 홍선형 Hong Seonhyeong, 오정화 O Jeonghwa and 서지원 Seo Jiwon. I practiced hard (I was sweating) but I'm not sure about some of the others who are (like I was six months ago) so frustrated it's hard to keep going.

Jaejeong teaches without spending much time correcting mistakes. For example, I know I need to power my swing by going down, but I power on the up stroke. He hasn't mentioned it. I know when I do yangsaui I have a head twitch, he hasn't mentioned that either. He also hasn't told Jeonghwa that her sangmo hat is so far forward it's not able to spin in the correct place. He mostly just tells us new things and works with us on –those- things, and leaves the rest of it alone. I'm not sure if he will go back and correct them later, or not. He smiles a lot, but he also says "Dal (that's what he calls me, but it's the closest to a name any of us have, he calls others by their major or what not), you have to relax. You have to count while you're doing it and not rush the move." And other similar corrections. I'd videotape it, but the video camera is being uncooperative. Really frustrating. Perhaps it'll work later.

At 9:30 I quit practicing and grabbed my computer, which I used in the office for a few minutes. I've been so busy since I've been here that I have to put some serious time in now just to keep the journal up to date and get ready a paper to submit to one of my dissertation writing groups. Back in the room, however, we quickly started an informal 민요 minyo class. One of our independent members can sing well, so she's helping everyone to either learn or learn better a series of minyo. The 뒤풀이 duipuli was pretty ordinary, as duipuli goes. I just talked with some folks, esp. 주원 Juwon.

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