There is a place where you can give yourself a serious workout and at the same time let loose your inner pop star—hot pants and heels optional.
Make like the latest Korean pop acts, such as Super Junior, Big Bang, 2NE1, Girls’ Generation and Wonder Girls, in K-pop dance classes offered by the Korean Cultural Center (KCC) in Bonifacio Global City.
KCC’s modern dance program is not just for K-pop fanatics. The uninitiated need only watch a few music videos on YouTube to find out the type of choreography being taught. Anyone age 15 and above is welcome to join, as long as you’re eager to dance and break a sweat.
Now, you might ask, why would anybody want to dance-mimic K-pop stars?
Because the dance steps look fun and easy. It’s a workout that feels like you’re in a music video rehearsal. And the music is crazy infectious—admit it, you swayed your li’l tush and did the flirty flick of the shoulders a la Wonder Girls in the “Nobody” video.
K-pop star looks
Then there’s Korean instructor Dasuri Choi, who had been a choreographer and back-up dancer to K-pop artists before she was invited to teach at KCC.
She looks and dances like a K-pop star, but don’t let her petite and slender frame deceive you—Choi gives her students quite a workout. The 24-year-old has had formal training in jazz and classical ballet, and has been dancing professionally for over six years.
On the day we dared to try Choi’s class, blaring on the speakers was Teen Top’s “To You,” and the dance style just had to be the one that could easily expose our awkward moves—hip-hop.
We plunged in with two left feet and plenty of apprehension, but in less than 10 minutes Choi had us grooving—though not quite in synch with the rest of the class—to the rhythm.
KCC’s modern dance program offers two types of classes: hip-hop, or boys’ dance, and girls’ dance.
Poppin’ and lockin’
In the K-pop world, hip-hop is not as “buck” or “down and dirty,” which is how Western hip-hop is characterized in the “So You Think You Can Dance” lexicon. The kicks, jumps, poppin’ and lockin’ are delivered in a cool and suave, instead of badass, manner.
In other words, said Choi, “It’s pogi dance.”
Girls’ K-pop dance is feminine, flirty and sexy, the perfect example of which is G.NA’s “2Hot” which Choi tackled on the second class of the day. It is no less challenging, considering the amount of grinding, pa-cute head bops and small, quick movements involved.
“The important thing is students need to polish and make [their movements] clean,” said Choi.
The music is fast, but dance steps are taught in progressing levels of speed, from slow, to moderate and then as fast as the beat of the song. Choi dissects the choreography down to the flick of a wrist, so students like myself, whose learning curve for dance is not as sharp, could catch up.
Classes are attended by dance enthusiasts, like 22-year-old Annie Quarteros, a language teacher who has had 3 terms (a term has 12 weeks) of K-pop dance classes and is a member of the KCC traditional dance group. Hip-hop and contemporary dancer Krisan Jacomina, 23, who dabbles in theater and belongs to a competitive dance crew, signed up to the dance program to pad her performance skills. Government employee Bembette Ladip, 45, loves to dance and is already in her fourth term in the KCC program, which she said was the first dance lesson she has ever had. All three women have been dancing for fitness as well.
Mixed in the bunch are university students, such as K-pop fan Catherine Wong, 24, an HRM student who claims she has trimmed down after nearly four terms in the dance program. Another K-pop fan, Michelle Jane Gabriel, 17, a Computer Science major, signed up for classes when she saw the KCC ad on TV. IT student James Ancheta, 19, loves K-pop so much that he has been looking for an internship with a schedule that could still accommodate the dance lessons.
It seems Hallyu fever has not waned since Koreanovelas had invaded the local boob-tube.
The Korean Cultural Center was opened last year in an effort to keep up with the Korean wave in the country, said Seong Un Hwang, director of the KCC.
Striking a balance
“We want to keep a wider appreciation for Korean culture and try to keep a balance between modern and traditional programs,” he said.
Other KCC programs include Korean language classes, which have the most number of students; K-pop singing; traditional dance; hanji, or Korean traditional papercraft using paper made from the barks of mulberry trees; samulnori, or Korean traditional percussion; and Korean cooking and cuisine.
At the end of every term, the cultural center holds a graduation ceremony and recital for students to showcase what they’ve learned.
To celebrate its first anniversary and the 2012 Hallyu festival, which runs this weekend, KCC is bringing over Korean boy band Boyfriend to perform tonight at the SM Mall of Asia Centerstage. The six-member pop act debuted last year with an eponymous single that placed seventh on the Gaon Charts, which keeps track of South Korea’s bestselling music in and outside the state.
In the past, KCC has been instrumental in bringing K-pop artists in the country, including boy band Block B, which performed in September, and all-girl hip-hop group 2NE1, a member of which is former actress Sandara “Dara” Park.
Events on the festival program also include the K-Pop Cover Dance Group Contest and Drama Cosplay Competition.
The Korean Cultural Center is at 2/F Mancor Corporate Bldg., 32nd St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; tel. 5551711; fax. 5551707; e-mail [email protected] or [email protected]; visit phil-korean-culture.org.