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Kaba Modern headlines 6th annual KASA show

Alexandra Finkel

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Two months ago, Weinberg sophomore Peter Suh watched Kaba Modern compete on MTV’s “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew.” On Saturday night, Suh and two other Northwestern students battled five Kaba crew members in front of a sold-out crowd.

Kaba’s performance was among the acts showcased as part of the sixth annual Korean cultural show organized by the Korean-American Students Association. Hosted by Julian from Chicago’s B96 radio show, the event attracted more than 600 people to Ryan Family Auditorium.

Weinberg sophomore YeEun June Sung, president of the cultural group, said they have been planning the show since the fall. Throughout the year the group asked for donations from local businesses and organized cultural events on campus like Korean Peace Day.

“We want to get out the word on what type of Korean issues face us today, ” Sung said.

Performers this year included Refresh hip-hop dance crew, NU’s Tae Kwon Do club and step dancing by NU’s Asian-interest fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon.

The organization secured a contract with Kaba Modern three weeks ago.

Weinberg freshman Ashley Whang said she watched Kaba Modern on MTV and was excited to see them perform in person.

“Probably having famous people drew a larger audience,” Whang said. “But it’s a great way to expose everyone to Korean culture.”

This year’s theme, “Kickin’ it Old School,” blended traditional Korean acts with acts inspired by everything ’90s. The fusion between the two was essential in attracting a diverse audience, Sung said.

Three NU students opened the show with the Korean national anthem, along with two traditional Korean acts performed by middle-school and high-school students from the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center in Chicago.

When Kaba Modern took the stage, the audience screamed and cheered. Kaba performed a choreographed routine, and then each of the five members did solos. When they finished, hip-hop a cappella group and “America’s Got Talent” contestants Tatum Jones closed the show. The group started to sing and Kaba came back out to battle with the students.

As one of these students, Suh said KASA members approached him a few weeks ago about the battle. Suh has been dancing for two years and won the freestyle competition at Kollaboration, a Korean-American annual talent show in Chicago. But once he took the stage with Kaba, he said he was even more impressed with Kaba’s dancing in person.

“They were actually quite amazing,” Suh said. “Camera angles on TV can hide a lot of flaws, but their performance was definitely flawless.”

After the show, about 70 people lined up for pictures and autographs with Kaba Modern. To Suh, Kaba’s performance was a dream come true.

“I was a fan of Kaba before (America’s Best) Dance Crew and I used to watch their videos on YouTube,” he said. “So battling with them was an opportunity of a lifetime.”

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