Originally written in Korean by Hyujin Shin
Translated Korean into English by Nayun Lee
August 10, 2014
There is less than a month left before my performance named “About the Twisted Form.” It is an experiment in learning how to distort the body while maintaining constant movement. This is all about the theme and content of this project.
In my usual habit of practicing before a mirror that filled the wall of a practice room — bending, churning, and throwing my body — I began to wonder, why I can’t give up this life of constant movement and dance? Am I Karen, the protagonist of Andersen's fairy tale, “The Red Shoes,” fated to a life of eternal dance? How long have I been here, flopped on the floor after having abruptly stopped my movement, searching for the origin of these thoughts?
In the end, I heaved a deep sigh without knowing the origin of these musings. I managed to reign in my thoughts and resume my practice but because my thoughts traveled to Andromeda and back again, my body was not moving as naturally as before. The practice ended when the day ended. On my way home, I stopped by the convenience store and bought a beer. Since there are only a few days left before the upcoming show, I’m very anxious.
November 30, 2014
The promotional text of the workshop held at the 'Creative Cycle' studio located in Mangwon-dong, Seoul was as follows:
“This workshop is for dancing, which is one of the humans’ fundamental activities. It is for studying the universal human body and the principle of movement that we all share. Regardless of culture or dance style, this workshop investigates movement and improvisation as an integrated body. If you are interested, do not miss it.”
Various people gathered at the workshop to study dance, literally one of humans’ most intrinsic actions. The participants’ ages, genders, fields of study, and interests were all varied. I was delighted to see some familiar faces, when Soto's workshop started suddenly, without any formal introduction. Soto was a richly experienced guide, as he has been traveling to many cities and doing workshops for years. He has visited Korea many times, of course, and seemed quite familiar with Korean culture.
The participants, dressed in comfortable trousers and t-shirts, laid their backs on the floor and breathed for a while. Like them, I was relaxed and focused on breathing to the point it might have seemed like I was asleep. A few people have even begun snoring as if the comfort of the room was a pillow. Soto did not mind because it’s part of the natural process. He directed us to slowly raise our legs. He suggested that every movement, even breathing, could be accomplished through cognition and awareness. For example, what is the muscle that is used to bend and lift one knee when lying on the side? On the contrary, what is the muscle used for straightening and lifting the knee straight? How can I use minimal muscle to create motion? How are the spine and pelvis aligned when standing upright? At every moment, Soto encouraged participants to find their own ways as much as possible, so that they could recognize the relationship between movement and muscles. The “iliopsoas muscle” occupied a high proportion of his explanations. The iliopsoas muscle is the most important muscle to distinguish between ape and human. This muscle includes psoas attached to the pelvis around it and the iliacus muscle connecting the vertebrae and legs. Iliopsoas muscles of human beings are long and thick compared to monkeys and chimpanzees. These muscles are used when you walk, when you lift your legs, or try to maintain a standing posture. Thanks to iliopsoas muscle, men finally became able to walk upright and perform actions that could be done by hand.
This was not my first time to hear Soto’s explanation of the iliopsoas muscles at one of his workshops. When I was in university, the word came up in all of the practical classes. It is not surprising that iliopsoas muscle is frequently mentioned during class due to the nature of dance, which repeats the lifting of the legs several thousand times, even tens of thousands of times a day. However, today I could not easily feel my iliopsoas muscle, that muscle considered so important. It was hard to detect as if it had just woken from a long hibernation after a harsh winter. I was obsessed with this muscle to the point that it was hard to move forward, when all of a sudden I heard Soto’s peaceful voice say, “Enjoy this moment when body, mind, and thoughts become one.”
After four hours, somewhere deep in my body, at the edge of my mind, I wandered around looking for something to happen somewhere in my mind. Most of the participants were not in a hurry to leave, even though the workshop was so tiring and had no breaks.
* G Hoffman Soto is a dancer and educator who has been involved in movement art for 43 years. He danced modern, Africa, Brazil, and Japan style. He taught taichi, porpoise, capoeira, aikido, and martial arts in the Philippines and taught in Germany, Japan and Australia. Since 1973 he has worked with Anna Halplin in San Francisco dancers' workshops, and since 1978 he has taught in the United States as a Tamalpa professor. It has been profoundly influenced by body work, such as ideokinesis, cranio-sacral therapy, polar therapy (alternative therapies emphasizing balanced distribution of body energy).
I have been constantly asking myself, as a dancer and a choreographer, why I dance. At the same time, I was interested in fundamentally looking at the body. But until now, after re-reading my old diary which I found while moving, I did not think I would connect these two deliberations. I decided to think about this again.
Ever since homo erectus (a straight-ahead person), it has become possible to walk upright, whether human or not. By doing so, the use of both hands was free, and the tool was used. This boring story sounds like it appears in textbooks, but let’s look at this cliché from another perspective. When a baby begins learning to walk, he can barely support himself without a supporting object and he bounces his adorable knees, bent and twisted like a dancer, as if he’s bragging that he is well-equipped with the iliopsoas muscle deep inside his body. Maybe dance, like a baby's movement, is also possible without a specific purpose or reason? Dance has always been in the human subconscious. If that subconsciousness met the well-developed iliopsoas muscle, that centuries-long dream could have come true. In other words, dance is a natural act of humans and it is also natural to constantly create movement as a profession.
At the end of my journal entries from two years ago, I added the following: “With the body that everyone shares and through the integrated, physical, impromptu, improvised creation, let’s dance, which is our fundamental activity. If this speaks to your body and mind, please do practice the gift of this natural activity.”
HyeJin Shin is a dancer who graduated from Korea National University of Arts. Her major works include Skirt-Ology, Traditional Artificial Dance, When the Technology Fails - Collaborated Choreography, and About the Twisted Form. email@example.com
Illustrator。 Joo Won Lee
Joo Won Lee was born in Paju, Gyeonggi, in 1986. She entered an art college for her love of painting and then ambitiously moved to the States for further education. She is now working on many different projects such
as video or installation art after feeling a little weary from painting. She is intermittently painting when she can alienate herself from her own will. Currently, she is taking part in different residencies in Korea, but mostly living in a place with fresher air.