Thoughts that cannot be seen or heard are recreated by the unique movements of the mime club, Pantos.
“We aspire to express different areas of our lives through our performances and spend time creating an artistic image with their physical movements and expressions,” said Kim Woo-seok, the head of Pantos.
Based on mime features that allow nonverbal communication to express personal thoughts and ideas, Pantos was created to study body movements and enhance creativity. Started in 1991, it is now celebrating its 25th anniversary as Korea’s very first mime club. With its long tradition, Pantos has many famous alumni, including actor Ryu Seung-soo.
The name Pantos comes from a combination of the word “pantomime” and the Greek word mimos, which means imitator. Members of the club pride in the fact that they learn and perform a minor area of art in Korea. Through the club, members establish a unique talent much different from other activities university students participate in.
Selected as the best club of 2015 within the Seoul Institute of the Arts, Pantos has proven to be one of the most active clubs. Every summer and winter break, the club holds performance workshops and mime performances, and annually participates in the Chuncheon International Mime Festival.
“The festival helps Pantos constantly improve,” Kim said.“Members learn new methods of communication with their bodies though sharing thoughts and skills with other professional participants.”
As mime depends on body movements, training is very important. New members are required to complete four weeks of training sessions: morning training for two weeks and evening training for another two weeks. During this period, members learn basic skills of mime and train to imagine and express words and feelings.
Afterwards, training focuses on preparation for and creation of performances, where it becomes more rigorous and demanding. Practice sessions start after class and ends only after individuals have finished their quota. Because of this, club members have varied training sessions to each other.
“The most memorable experience was when I first stayed overnight preparing for the Chuncheon International Mime Festival,” said Kim. “It was my first time staying up all night practicing. This was especially memorable because I was able to get to know our club members well while practicing throughout the night.”
Members train themselves by unleashing their imagination. Imagination is the most fundamental ingredient of mime as stories can be delivered through movements that depict imagined expressions of a single word or an emotion.
This requires members to stretch out of their boundaries in expression. During this process individual members develop their unique “voice” within their movements. Pantos respects and takes into account each member’s imagination and ideas when creating a performance.
By bringing out and sharing personal thoughts during practice and performances through physical expressions, Kim stated that Pantos has helped him become more assertive.
“I used to be a very introverted person who wasn’t able get along with strangers well,” Kim said. “But after numerous performances in front of a large audience, I have become a more active person. Also, I was able to meet many people who are talented in mime which is an area that is not popular and thus hard to meet and interact with professionals.”
Mime is yet to be a popular realm of art in Korea, and Pantos seeks to bring the art closer to the public through posts on social media. One way Pantos actively communicates with their fans is by regularly posting short clips of their practices on Facebook and Instagram.
“Our objective is to encourage people to know and enjoy miming by showing them how amazing this part of art is,” Kim said. “When the audience enjoys our performance, we feel so grateful and moved. We hope to tell the audience that words are not the only way to express feelings.”