July 19th, 2011
On Tuesday I met Kathy and 수미 Sumi from 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum class at Seoul Stn and we three caught the bus to 단국대 Dankook University together. Outside campus we found that 허창열 Heo Changyeol, 황민왕 Hwang Minwang and 유세정 Yu Sejeong were running late. We started on lunch first but ordered for them and ended the meal together.
The class went really well, particularly at first. Changyeol is one of the most charismatic people I know, and despite his lack of ability to speak English he did a brilliant job. First he introduced the four basic percussion instruments to the students and taught them to speak the four different parts to 자진모리장단 jajinmori rhythmic pattern. After that he gave them a chance to play each of the instruments in turn. Every single student played every single instrument, although at times this was somewhat painful to the ears, Changyeol kept a giant smile on his face and the students loved the experience. He also tried to communicate the basic idea of Korean dance, having them move in a circle with bended knees and raised arms and feeling and responding to the music. This was not so successful, but everyone had fun anyway. Afterwards Changyeol performed 문둥북춤 Mundung Bukchum from고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae. He was brilliant, of course, because he's one of the most talented mask dancers I have ever seen. Yes, Changyeol deserves the superlatives. Next was Hwang Minwang's turn in the spotlight. Minwang is much more quiet and reserved than Changyeol but he's an amazing artist. He's an isuja for Namhaean Byeolshin'gut (shamanic ritual), as a specialist in music, not as a shaman. He talked about folk songs from around Korea and sang selections of folk songs and then sang shamanic ritual songs from different areas as well as demonstrating the 태평소 taepyeongso. It was really great.
Sumi, Kathy and I were heading in a different direction than Changyeol and Minhwang who had to drive Sejeong home before they'd go back to Seoul, so we separated after class. I ended up walking around central Seoul with Kathy, we met up with her fiancé, Tim, who I also know from LA and had a wonderful dinner.
July 20th, 2011
On my day "off" I was very fortunate to have been asked if I'd like to attend a meeting of all the office managers from all the mask dance groups in Korea—the meeting was happening at 은율탈춤 Eunyul Talchum's office in Incheon—and 김영숙, 탄종원 picked me up so we could go together. I received clear proof that I was widely trusted -- I was worried that although escorted to the meeting by Songpa Sandae Noli's office manager that I would be kicked out at the start or before sensitive discussion, however when we arrived (somewhat late) it was to a flurry of jokes about whether I was the Songpa Sandae Noli American-branch representative or if I represented the interests of all Korean mask dance dramas in America. I stayed for the entire five hour (including excellent lunch) meeting which in addition to painfully choosing the date for an all group inclusive festival also covered financial details pertaining to the association (I even left with photocopies specifying expenditures) and contained frank information sharing and strategizing for future performances and festivals. I was allowed to record the entire meeting, contribute views and fact check.
In the evening I met 정회정 Jung Hoijung for dinner and a work session in a café near her house—we ignored each other most of the time and worked intensively on separate projects.