FREE FLOW: physicality toward musicality
THE BIOMECHANICS FOR DANCERS AND MOVERS
BY WOOGURU KW
Dancing is, by its very nature, a broad term to be freely defined, practiced, and developed further for the end in itself: the joy of movement. And the most fundamental element there, which may not be necessarily challenged or argued in social contexts, is the human body: the biological system with physical characteristics and psychological dispositions that develops and functions in ways that distinguish itself from the others.
By extension, the level of need for what can only be expressed and addressed by bodily movements may vary widely. And this difference among individuals may also be reflected in physiological responses that are largely perceived as certain emotions or feelings. Moreover, this relationship between bodily expressions and emotions may more apparently be experienced when it all comes to a voluntary choice. That is to say, those with no impulses for bodily expression to be made by voluntary movements would not make any expressive move – which would be, for them, merely mechanical – unless required or forced. In contrast, the ones full of intrinsic stimuli would move their bodies with spontaneity for what needs to be expressed and addressed when they can. Taken together, these intrinsic stimuli – perhaps inherent to one’s own body, which elicit initial, spontaneous responses – may be the ones that are universal among all dancers – regardless of style, age, ethnicity, and level of physical abilities.
THE DANCING BODY TO BE FREE FOR ITSELF is the dance project that supports all people who want to explore further with a more factual, integrated understanding of their own bodies. The practical principles of this alternative approach to the bodies of the individual dancers will be presented in four dance works combined with verbal explanations by Wooguru Kw.
- Rotation: The body functions as a whole, and every joint is connected in a way that can be easily experienced and explored with rotational movements.
- Reaction: The very nature of bodily movements is reactive. And it may most apparently be experienced when injured.
- Elasticity: One movement sequence that involves virtually all elements vital for motor skills – both gross and fine – is jumping.
- Rhythmicality: Reflexes or reflexive responses are likely to automatically occur when elastic, passive, and supportive elements like tendons reach certain ranges or limits. And these involuntary, cyclic responses can be understood as inherent features that set the baseline for functional patterns unique to an individual.
Wooguru Kw is a dancer free and for with his own body, altered by a traumatic head injury, followed by spinal deformity, yet with which his dancing all began. Rehabilitation (stretched over a decade) from a series of injuries and neurological complications he had gone through was complicated. But it eventually became a unique set of empirical knowledge – which has been further examined and explored with a biomechanical approach to his condition over the past decade. His dance works were supported and presented by various international organizations, such as TANZTAGE BERLIN 2014, Moving poets 2013-2016 (in Germany and the USA, worked with Till Schmidt-Rimpler, a former principal of the Dutch opera and North Carolina theatre in the USA), NYTKE 2019, in Tampere, Finland, etc. And he was invited to present his education project (conducted in Germany, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, and S. Korea between 2016 and 2019) at the GTF symposium 2018 (the German Association for Dance Science), Seoul Dance Center 2016-17, etc.
BOUNCE, BOUNCE, POUNCE:
A series of public art projects supported by the city of Helsinki
Oct. 4 – Oct. 16, 2022
1. A series of short workshops for a small group of people
One movement sequence that involves virtually all elements vital for motor skills – both gross and fine – is jumping. And to enjoy all the fun and health benefits from this ballistic motion, we don’t need to be particularly athletic or super fit because the elastic mechanism behind jumping is inherent to all of us – which we use mostly unconsciously while breathing, standing, walking, and running.
Moreover, as we are all different from each other – anatomically, psychologically, and functionally – jumping can be performed in various ways, with varying intensity, reflecting the uniqueness of the individual. So, it’s not that hard to play with and improve our jumping ability with the small tips that may remind us of how our body works as a whole, how it functions for itself, and what we can do with what’s in us. And this is what “BOUNCE, BOUNCE, POUNCE: a series of short workshops for all” comes up for. So, let’s play together and add new joy to your life.
I’m Wooguru. I began all this to share my knowledge, mainly learned from a decade-long rehabilitation from a traumatic head injury and spinal deformity – of which I was not expected to be able to function again – just as a normal person. But now, I’m a free dancer who can freely run, jump through rough terrain, and swim in a wavy body of open water until it freezes. So, if you want to explore further the body of your own – a very personal universe that you have – I’m always here to support you.
Please feel free to contact me. Let’s find the time and space that work for you. Moreover, the length of time for it can vary.
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2. The nature dance performance on Harakka island, Helsinki, on Oct. 16, 2022
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BOUNCE, BOUNCE, POUNCE:
The Nature Dance Performance on Harakka island in Helsinki
Oct. 16, 2022 / 15:00
The world we all live in is physical, and our bodies that continuously respond to and interact with it make our expressions tangible and palpable – a simple but essential fact that reminds me of the very nature of my dancing. And this fundamental, constitutive connection I have with the natural world will be shown in the dance work, “BOUNCE, BOUNCE, POUNCE,” on the rocky terrain of Harakka, a small island that sits closely to Kaivopuisto park in Helsinki, also known for its well-preserved natural integrity.
Vast swathes of the sea and the intact rocky shore that characterize the southern side of Harakka just speak for themselves. So, for that, which are already in perfect harmony, I can only accept, feel, and respond to what they provide me with. And that’s my dancing – for the end in itself.
- Date: October 9 & 16, 2022 – the second and third Sundays of October
- Meeting at the Harakka’s deck at 15:00 – which can be reached by a regular ferry departing every 30 minutes, from the Ullanlinna pier, next to Café Ursula, nearby Kaivopuisto park, Helsinki (a link to the ferry schedule https://www.merenkavijat.fi/yhteysveneen-aikataulut.html)
- Walking around the island to the rocks where the nature dance performance will be held
- “BOUNCE, BOUNCE, POUNCE”
- Artist Talk: the fundamentals of human movement – with tea under the roof
- Duration of an event: appx. one hour
Given the unpredictability of Finnish weather, preregistration is required – which will be very helpful for the preparation of an event. Please feel free to contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
the fundamentals of human movement
The excerpts from “THE DANCING BODY TO BE FREE FOR ITSELF: The Biomechanics of a dancer with acquired disabilities” – the book project he is currently working on
Part 2: LANDING MECHANICS
… The initial sequence of bipedal locomotion – where the foot and the ankle reciprocally roll outward toward the pinky toe – is called supination. And given the cyclic, sequential nature of locomotion, it is closely bound up with the landing phase of walking, running, or jumping. Furthermore, this sequence of downward motions may come naturally with an exhalation that starts from diaphragmatic relaxation.
… Vertical oscillation – largely driven by respiration, a continuous cycle of inspiration and expiration, facilitated by a series of contractions and relaxations, mostly starting from the abdomen – is another key feature of bipedal locomotion. As discussed above, the downward phase of respiration is – in a very mechanical sense – initially caused by diaphragmatic relaxation – from which the abdomen becomes relaxed to the extent that the trunk tilts slightly forward and downward. In contrast to downward momentum, which comes with exhalation and expiratory contractions, the upward phase is closely related to a series of muscle contractions that causes inhalation. So given the cyclic, sequential nature of respiration, this very physical process of filling the lungs with air can be performed better – or done more smoothly – with the lungs properly deflated, the diaphragm properly relaxed (or shortened when forced), and muscles (from pelvic floors, through the abdomen and back, to the neck and face) properly relaxed.
… By extension, a neutral posture may refer to a body position where respiratory flows (expressed by vertical oscillation) are least obstructed – in which abdominal muscles can relax and contract freely enough, corresponding to a cyclic sequence of diaphragmatic relaxation and contraction. More specifically, it refers to a subtle quality of a posture that can be taken in various stances and positions – in which two factors matter most: respiratory flows (not to be disturbed for normal functioning) and readiness for subsequent movements (to be performed from a given posture).
Wooguru Kw is a dancer for the body of his own – the one to be functional, responsive, and free for itself – yet in ways defined by functional limits set by anatomical and physiological alterations that came with a traumatic head injury at 20.
His dancing all began with his body and the rhythmicality inherent to it – abruptly disrupted, altered by injuries, yet still adaptable and resilient for its regular functioning: the foundation for biomechanical integrity to be restored and properly maintained.
Rehabilitation from a series of injuries and neurological complications that he had gone through was complicated. But it eventually became a unique set of empirical knowledge – which has been further examined and explored with a biomechanical approach to his condition over the past decade.
He now lives with his wife in Finland – where he freely runs, jumps through rough terrain, and swims in a wavy body of open water until it freezes.
On the pebbles with frost in Helsinki, Finland in Dec. 2018, photographed by Nelly Hakkarainen