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00707012
2011.8
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KOREAN

From Beijing Opera to B-boys – Enhancing Bilateral Relations through Cultural Understanding   2011 Korea-China Friendship Week in Wuhan, China  On a sweltering day in early June, a Korean performing arts troupe boarded a flight bound for China. Upon our arrival at Wuhan Airport, we were greeted by a heat wave, which made us realize why Wuhan is known for its hot weather in China. A performing group of the National Gugak Center, the percussion group Gongmyoung, and the B-boys group Gamblerz Crew – we made up a team to visit Wuhan, in Hubei Province, from July 8-10, to give performances in celebration of the 2011 Korea-China Friendship Week.



Wuhan : Center of Central China

We found Wuhan a big city teeming with a large population and numerous high-rise buildings, while a variety of construction projects are underway here and there. Wuhan was undergoing considerable development. We started our first day in China getting settled in our hotel, relaxing for a while, and looking around the nearby areas to familiarize ourselves with the new environment. The following day, we were scheduled to have a rehearsal but the theater turned out to be unavailable for us.

So we took the opportunity to have a tour around the city. With the assistance of a Korean student studying at the local university, we learned about Wuhan’s history and way of life, and visited a museum. Since China is a huge country, everything there seemed to have a big scale as well. For example, the Yangtze River’s grand spectacle was indeed impressive. Chinese folktales that our guide told us about were very informative and entertaining. He also said there were several lakes around the city, which probably contributed to the high humidity.

Enthusiastic Audience Response

A dance group from the National Gugak Center performs in Wuhan, ChinaWe gave our first performance on the third day of our visit. We started making preparations from early morning and had a rehearsal session in the afternoon. The theater had 1,400 seats and the stage was not large. We had no difficulty with setting up the stage for our performance because we had brought every necessary equipment from Korea. Therefore, we just needed to fine-tune our musical instruments, and double-check the costumes, sound and lighting systems, and stage area.

국립국악원 창작악단 공연 모습 퓨전 타악그룹 ‘공명’ 공연 모습 At 7:30 p.m., the performance began with the Chinese team staging a scene from a Beijing opera and a group dance by female dancers. Then the Gongmyoung percussion group performed its exciting numbers “Yuhee” and “Heung,” driving the audience into a joyful mood. Next was our team from the National Gugak Center. We started with traditional court dances, “Chunaengjeon” and “Pogurak,” followed by a series of songs, including “Onara,” the theme song of the popular TV drama “Dae Jang Geum”; “The Moon Represents My Heart,” a Chinese pop song; and “Jebi nojeonggi” (Route of Swallow’s Journey), a song from the pansori narrative chant “Song of Heungbo.” This part of the program concluded with a rendition of “Arirang Fantasy,” a chamber music piece, composed by Choi Sung-whan. Gamblerz Crew, a globally acclaimed B-boys group, appeared to perform their breathtaking feats for the grand finale. The audience responded with frenzied cheers.

The theater overflowed with delightful fervor as the audience enthusiastically responded to every performance. Despite the sultry weather, the performers and support staff all put forth their utmost efforts to assure an entertaining evening for everyone in attendance. Our success should be attributed to the careful preparations made by Han Man-joo, general director, and Ju Seok-gil, head of the performing group of the National Gugak Center, as well as the representatives of Gongmyoung and Gamblerz Crew.


First Step to Cultural Understanding

Gamblerz Crew, a world-renowned B-boys team, performs amid frenzied cheers of the audience.

The next evening, a second show was staged for ordinary citizens, who jam-packed the theater. The audience’s high energy level was readily sensed by the performers, inspiring them to perform with an added flourish. In particular, some Korean residents from the local area expressed their appreciation by presenting flower bouquets to the performers.

Gamblerz Crew, a world-renowned B-boys team, performs amid frenzied cheers of the audience.

All the musicians, dancers and staff members held a post-event evaluation meeting to exchange our opinions about the performances. As is always the case, there was much room for improvement to be desired, but our performances for the 2011 Korea-China Friendship Week were deemed a success overall. In addition, we could find great potential for more cooperative relations between Korea and the city of Wuhan. In this regard, I am hopeful that Korea will continue to conduct cultural exchange projects with China, and its cities like Wuhan, in order to further solidify the bilateral relationship between the two nations.

Kwon Sung-taek, Concert Master of the Contemporary Gugak Orchestra, National Gugak Center

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