Andong mask dance Festival a hit for everyone

by Yi, Eung-Hyun
USAG Daegu Public Affairs

DAEGU GARRISON — Soldiers, civilians and family members from throughout U.S. Army Garrison Daegu and Area IV took advantage of a chance to see the 2015 Andong International Maskdance Festival last month.

Designated by Korea’s Cultural Heritage Administration as Important Intangible Cultural Properties, Korean traditional mask dance performances are a must-see for those hoping to understand more about Korean culture. Artists from home and abroad not only treated everyone to a series of captivating performances, but also encouraged the audience to join in the free-spirited fun.

This is not the kind of dance that everyone knows about. The secret is in the mask and combination of the mask and old style dance. The Korean Andong mask includes various kinds of facial expressions. Especially, they try to show some emotion of happiness, anger, love and joy. Facial expression is really important in acting or dancing, because people get the meaning of performance mostly from actors’ or dancers’ facial expression.

Choosing the right mask is really important for performers in mask dance. Obviously, they can’t show their actual face. The only way to express their emotion is showing facial expression in the mask, voice and motion. This kind of traditional performance tries to show Korean style of emotion which is called ‘Han.’ This emotion, which is combined emotions of anger, sadness, pain and agony, is really difficult to explain, but you may see this emotion in the performance of Korean mask dance.

Koreans of old tried to overcome sadness by making it kind of fun. So, it is not Western style dance, it is telling the actual life story of the old times. This was a great chance for the American visitors to learn about real Korean culture.

Since this was an international festival, it was organized for all generations and groups of people. In particular, the performances were designed with children in mind.

For example, there was an experience arcade where a mask can be made by hand, small water pool, playground, puppet theater, drawing arcade and exhibition hall.

For the adults in the crowd, there was a shopping arcade for the people who would like to buy souvenirs, and a street where you could find various specialized Andong cuisine.

Many shows were performed on the main stage at all times. Most of those shows were famous performance of typical Korean style culture.

The main part of this festival, of course, was the mask dance, which was performed at Mask Dance Theater.

All of the performances mingled together in harmony and touched everyone’s heart, no matter where they were from in the world.

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