Hwalan is a scholar warrior. She is an actor, multi-media space artist, dancer, martial artist, poet, teacher and healer. The dialogue between opposing forces, traditional and contemporary, East and West, hard and soft, earthly and heavenly, ultimately leading to greater harmony on all levels, is at the heart of her work. The sacred is achieved through a transformation of, rather than in contradiction to, the deeply human.
Hwalan was born in Seoul, Korea, found on a road at the age of five months and adopted by a secular Jewish intellectual hippie couple living in upstate New York; defining her cultural artistic identity early in life.
Needing the mix of a great urban capital, at eighteen Hwalan moved to New York City and attended Columbia University. She majored in Visual Art, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
Hwalan felt the need to return to her birth country, compelled to study traditional Korean performing arts: drumming, dance, opera, yoga and martial arts.
During this time Hwalan also engaged in theater: writing, directing and performing traditional Korean music combined with contemporary dance and electric guitar. Soon after, Hwalan’s performance talent was spotted by the producer of a show at Chundong Theater. She was cast as lead in a vast drumming extravaganza.
The calling from within to finally cross over from Korean city performer to country SunMuDo disciple had come. When the sky fell on her head, her body was a vehicle that could transform human to sacred.
Returning to New York, Hwalan immediately became a member of the USA Shaolin Temple Demo Team. Hwalan currently trains in Wu Shu.
Perfecting her yoga practice as well, Hwalan is today one of New York City’s top yoga teachers. She combines yoga and martial arts into a new spiritual/physical experience for her students.
Hwalan currently plays Sgt. Chang (LEAD) in Veteran’s Project: Leaving Theater. The work explores Chang’s struggle as a combat veteran with PTSD and suicidal tendencies. Directed by Fay Simpson (coached Lupita Nyong’o in her Academy Award winning role, Yale, NYU, creator of Lucid Body). Hwalan co-created the arc, character and choreography through interviews with veterans as well as improvisations with veterans who are part of the cast. Impact Theater provokes thought and action by addressing crucial, unresolved situations. The work is performed for combat veterans, including those from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. Upcoming film work includes Octavia: Elegy for a Vampire, directed by Dennis Kangalee (Juilliard), in which Hwalan will play Yejin, lead guitarist in the punk rock band.
As an immersive installation artist, Hwalan’s work navigates loci where science and spirituality converge, providing sensory cues that serve as bridges towards a more heightened, or opened, state; where the experiencer can settle or tap into anything. Or nothing. Hwalan’s focus is upon the experiencer as primary, active participant within the immersive environments. The focus is not about the work. It’s about the experiencer. The sensate experience of Hwalan’s art incites a shift in perception, embodiment and presence. Hwalan recently created, directed and performed in Electra Project, a site specific video installation at the Andrew Freedman Home, for the Armory Show.