PSY’s “Gangnam Style” is likely what comes to mind when we think of K-pop, affectionately shortened from Korean pop. But there’s a entire other world of Asian popular culture that even someone like me, a devoted K-pop fan, is overwhelmed by. Since the early 2000’s, Asia and the world as a whole has been riding the Hallyu (Korean wave). A few phrases that come to mind when describing K-pop include, but are not limited to, bright lights, flashy costumes, high-energy rhythms and extreme group synchronization. Unlike in America, where music videos and accompanying dances are secondary to the actual song itself, the K-pop industry is known best for its dedication and the immense resources devoted to dance masterpieces that are valued as much as the music. Some K-pop bands’ dances and music videos are actually what led them to popularity rather than their music. In K-pop, it’s about the group aesthetic. K-pop producers package artists into girl bands and boy bands that dance in amazing coordination and look extremely cohesive; search Exo’s “Growl” or SNSD’s “I Got a Boy” for two classic examples. But for those of you who went to the spring show of the Asian Dance Troupe (ADT) this past weekend, you’ve already seen the essence of K-pop condensed into an hour of incredibly fun dancing.
ADT is a student-directed, no-audition dance group that welcomes all dancers who want to try to dance to contemporary Korean music. For the K-pop-loving community at the college, ADT provides an outlet to fuel a mutual passion for sharing and learning K-pop. The dance pieces are covers of Korean boy and girl bands’ popular songs, and student choreographers teach the dance and formations over the course of a semester.
This year’s spring show titled Fiction, a culmination of a year of hard work and learning, featured 10 K-pop dance numbers; one J-pop (Japanese pop) dance; a performance from Williams’ own break dance group Eph Crew; a performance from the a capella group Far Ephs Movement and a dance from Dance Dhamaka, the college’s Bollywood dance group.The multifaceted program was attention-grabbing and high-energy fun, making the audience want to dance along the whole time.
The K-pop dances performed at the show covered a range of styles: “Mr. Chu” by Apink and “Happiness” by Red Velvet were girly and cute, while “Pepe” by CLC was girly but sassy. “MTBD” by CL and “Ah Yeah” by Exid involved major hip action, while “Good Boy” by GDxTaeyang could only be characterized by one word: swag. During the piece, “I’ll Be Back” by Da-iCE, a staged member in the audience was even serenaded. My favorite dance was “Be Natural by Red Velvet,” a sultry, jazzy piece that involved two chairs and lots of coordination between the two dancers. Seniors Liz Noh ’16 and Karen Huan ’16 pulled off the dance effortlessly. Head Choreographer Zeke King ’18 and ADT President Michael Wang ’17 were present in almost all the dance numbers, stealing the show with their stellar leading.
K-pop is a very experiential form of entertainment. There’s no way to pinpoint its effects with words; you have to see it with your own eyes to believe why such a phenomenon has swept the world. K-pop is a lot more than “Gangnam Style.” It is an essential part to contemporary Korean culture and the K-pop pro-duction/consumption industry is a huge sector of Korea’s national GDP. ADT’s performance professionally and respectfully delivered an eye-opening and memorable K-pop performance to the the College community, paying close attention to details in costume, music variety and current trends. Look up some of the pieces I mentioned above, and see you next year at ADT’s spring show if you want to experience the wonders of K-pop yourself.