New K-pop dance team brings BTS, BLACKPINK to campus


Source: Allison Ma

Members of K-Dance perform. The group, dedicated to K-pop dance, obtained official school organization status this quarter.

Wilson Chapman, Reporter

Between BTS presenting at the Grammys and Blackpink topping the iTunes charts, Korean popular music has made its way into the mainstream. In this era of K-pop’s cross-culture success, a new Northwestern student group aims to bring genre-inspired, eye-catching dances to campus.

K-Dance is a new Northwestern dance team dedicated to emulating the choreography and style of K-pop groups. The team began performing in showcases and hosting workshops during the winter, but officially received university group status this quarter.

Club co-president Xanh Quang said he was inspired to form the group after performing in a K-pop dance team for his high school’s cultural dance fair his senior year. Although he said he wasn’t a diehard fan of the genre, the Weinberg freshman admired the modern, fast-beat, hip-hop inspired choreography of the groups, and decided it was something he was interested in exploring in college.

“I found all of these people who all love K-pop, and then we talk about what clubs we want to join, and there’s no K-pop club,” Quang said. “So I’m just like meeting all of these freshmen, and we’re learning about this need. And I’m the type of person who … if something needs to be done, I like to do it.”

Quang co-founded the group with Medill freshman and co-president Allison Ma. Ma said the group has grown tremendously since the winter, when they only hosted four workshops and performed in one show for the Chinese International Student Association.

This spring, however, K-Dance performed in several showcases, some of which were hosted by Korean American Student Association and Typhoon Dance Troupe. Ma said the group plans to start their own show next year and make a YouTube channel for uploading quarterly music videos.

Ma said her favorite memory of the group’s first year was their premier performance. Having no idea if her and Quang’s idea would actually take off, she said seeing the group perform and receiving a huge applause was a very emotional experience.

“To see something actually solidify and for us to be performing on stage was very surreal,” Ma said. “I just had a very proud mother moment.”

Choreography director and Weinberg sophomore Carmen Li said part of the appeal of K-pop dance is the fairly simple choreography, which fosters a welcoming and supportive space for new dancers. Li said one of the dances she led in a recent show was filled with several new performers, all of whom bonded with and supported each other throughout their rehearsal process.

Although Li is not Korean, she said being a part of the group and a fan of the genre has helped her connect with her Asian heritage. She said her newfound interest in K-pop motivated her to watch Asian television shows that feature the music, which led to her learning more about Asian culture.

“You get to see a lot of Korean culture with that,” Li said. “It made me want to learn more about my own culture, so it was really a segue to learning more about all of the different cultures.”

Quang said as the group continues, he wants it to be a community where people with shared interests can come together to support each other, especially amidst the cultural revolution of K-pop.

“I want some place to create that sense of community and bonding with people of common interests,” Quang said. “K-pop is becoming progressively larger and larger in America, so I think it’s really important to have a place where people share your common interests and learn more about it.”

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