Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bongsan Talchum and Sangmo Class

March 7th, 2011
I took Aimee to experience the heaven of the Korean bathhouse (찜질방). She agreed it was heaven.

In the evening I took her to 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum class, mistakenly thinking she'd find it as much fun as me. She did not, however, join in, so I ended up feeling like I'd just dragged her along out of some pig-headed idea that it would surely be fascinating without stopping to think that she's not my mom (who even now is willing to find all my activities of at least moderate interest just cause they're something I like to do).

Class was non-standard as 김은주 Kim Eunju and the other Bongsan folks had a big important meeting going on, she stopped by once to see how we were doing, but we basically did it all on our own. 병호 Byeongho more or less led class, although 하연 Hayeon, 정현 Jeonghyeon and I helped out. 수미 Sumi did the accompaniment on 장구 janggu for the class, it was amazing how much harder it was to do with her drumming than normally, although she did get smoother during the class. Actually to be fair, Kim Eunju is known for being just an amazing accompanist for mask dancing, so perhaps what I was really experiencing was what a difference there is between someone beating out the 장단 jangdan (rhythmic pattern) and someone playing for dancers while producing the jangdan.

We went through each of the acts and then did the solos and the combined final dance for the eight dark faced monks. Of course I did monk 3. At the end of class we worked on the lion dance.

March 8th, 2011

After Aimee left I actually got back on track and did some serious writing/editing. It wasn't just having a guest that's more fun to hang out with than writing; it was also that until I woke up on Tuesday I hadn't felt fully physically healthy in an entire week.

I called 이종휘 Yi Jonghui to find out what time 상모 sangmo class would start and he said 6, but then when 현석 Hyeonseok and I arrived he said that due to the large number of college kids who were still in class until 6, we'd have to start at 7. So he taught just the two of us until nearly 7, when others started to show up, and kept class going until 9. Others were 지용 Jiyong (together weeks 3 and 6), 림한 Rimhan (last summer week 8 and winter week 3 and practicing all fall in Seoul), 효준 Hyojun (practicing in Seoul and at week 6 but not in sangmo), 성현 Seonghyeon (week 6). Class was tough. Partially because it was three hours, but partially because Yi Jonghui had us do the same motion over and over for almost the entire class. We were working on coordinating out 소고 sogo with the perfect sangmo motion, trying to get the hand motions right (not robotic) with the sogo is harder than it looks. We practiced almost the same sogo motion more than half the class, but we had different sangmo motions. One of which was to have us rotate counterclockwise instead of clockwise. My previous best was 10 rotations last night my rotations looked much better and I got up to 24, but I also pinched a nerve in my neck. Then the rest of the class was devoted to a sogo motion where you just raise and lower your sogo with the stick touching in the whole time. Sounds simple, I know. But I had to look left two (sogo down, up) and right two (sogo down, up) while spinning to each side and it was so frustrating. I never got it really right. At the end we switched our sangmo motion but kept doing the same sogo motion. I was pretty exhausted when we were done.


  1. In my defense (this is Aimee), I did find it interesting once it got started and they did some practice of some dances. HOWEVER, it was a TWO HOUR practice in a completely foreign language, and the time when one of the students was instructing a new dance, it was being completely done in Korean and I knew NOTHING of the dance already so didn't feel like joining, AND there was no teacher to watch making recommendations, so after about a half hour, I did lose interest.

  2. Don't think you need to defend yourself. I think I was freely admitting I seem to have dragged you there without thinking about if you'd like it.