But frankly, living in Berlin is not so different as living in Seoul or any other big city.
Freedom of dance in Germany
I have never met Woooguru in person, Dario-Jacopo Laganà, an Italian photographer in Berlin, also featured on multicoolty, introduced me to him via email. He said: “You know, I collaborate with a pretty amazing South Korean dancer, you might be interested in.”
“South Korean dancer in Berlin? Of course, I am interested!” I almost screamed. I got very intrigued not only by the name of the dancer “Wooguru” (what in the world does it mean?!), but by a nice multicultural mix of South Korea and Germany and partially because I once was a ballet dancer myself and shared Wooguru’s passion for dance.
So please welcome Wooguru!
Life before Berlin
He started dancing on the streets of Seoul in 2007, since then it has been his soul and life. Once a fashion designer, he wanted to do something entirely different, but essential for himself. “I sort of realized I was enjoying dancing. I then decided to build my career as a dancer on the streets and soon enough I realized that it was the only path to come to a certain essence of myself and to be what I am,” confirms the gifted dancer.
His manner of dance is unique. “It is hard to keep dancing in my own way in South Korea,” confirms Wooguru and adds:
Generally people in my home country have been trying to categorize my style and put me in a certain box, so I just could not handle it and had to find a new place where I can be myself, have enough time to practice and follow my natural desire to dance as I am.”
Wooguru set himself to travel around the world in 2010 looking for a perfect spot to be a dancer. He visited many countries and considered Munich, Paris, London and Berlin. “I wanted to look around and visited the final candidate cities before making a decision,” he says with a smile. The choice fell on Berlin. Wooguru always thought it was the most experimental place on earth and, as he puts it, because of the “sense of core” Berlin was a perfect place to develop his dance further.
He came to the capital city in November 2012. “I am still a newcomer,” laughingly says the talented dancer. Luckily, Wooguru was offered collaboration with Platoon Kunsthalle (art gallery – ed.) in Berlin before he even came to the city. He was also selected to live in HomeBase LAB Berlin – a residence for German and international artists.
“My approach to dance seems easy to understand for Germans, they are fascinated by the idea of creating a new dance tradition,” he says and starts telling me about his integration process: “I am trying to do my best to integrate into the German society. Germans respect my work and all the efforts and that is perhaps the reason why they let me work in this country,” he says and opens up: “But frankly, living in Berlin is not so different as living in Seoul or any other big city.”
The biggest struggle when moving to Germany according to Wooguru was finding a suitable place to live: “My girlfriend is Finnish, and even though she speaks good German, with our last names it was really hard to rent a place.”
Another difficulty a young South Korean dancer has been experience in Berlin is the language barrier. “I confess I am a bit lazy to learn German, but the dance scene here is very international and most Germans speak English well,” Wooguru smiles and adds: “I admit though, German language skills are still necessary to get more opportunities, so some day I will improve my German.”
Dance, dance, dance
The young performer gives one hundred per cent to his dance. He spends a lot of time in the studio improvising and using every part of his body as an instrument. He also cares for basic movements, such as walking and breathing. He dances solely for dance’s sake. “Dance is the most free form of existence ever imagined. When I dance I focus on myself being free. I am an absolute individual. My body is the concrete realization of my being. I trust my body and train myself to follow the natural flow inside me,” says the extraordinary dancer.
He feels happy whenever he feels freedom while dancing. “Our society wants us to adjust our nature to fit its needs, but I reject to be a tailored dancer just as a component of mass production society,” confirms Wooguru and finishes:
I am a human being with a free will and free will is an actual proof of the wildness in our nature. And this is the way of existing and this is the way of dancing who I am.”
Wooguru’s work is fascinating, creative, different, powerful and smart. Now discover it yourself by watching a few videos. His movements, passion, ideas about free dance and the pursuit of his dream inspire me. I am happy and delighted to have gotten a chance, thanks to Dario, to speak with him. Now it’s your turn to get inspired!
Pictures: Dario-Jacopo Laganà, Noora and Nelly Hakkarainen