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Niche Music Club Ventures into Choreography


Key Points:

  • IC K-Pop Club (ICKC) e-board members Anika Verma and Jason Khan taught the choreography to ‘Hola Hola’ by co-ed group K.A.R.D
  • Members were partnered up and were taught the first 30 seconds of the dance
  • K-Pop is known for its intense dances and performances
  • First time ICKC has taught dance despite being active since 2015

The spacious dance studio 4 located in Dillingham Center at Ithaca College hosted IC K-Pop Club’s (ICKC) first ever choreography lesson. E-board and general body members practiced in the space from 4 to 5 p.m. going over the first 30 seconds of the song ‘Hola Hola’ by K-Pop group K.A.R.D.

IC K-Pop Club secretary Anika Verma teaches members the first set of moves.

Setting the scene

To the K-Pop fan community dance is known as an irreplaceable staple of the genre. I K-Pop groups, usually consisting of three to 13 members, are known for their complex choreography set to high-energy songs with their fans often creating videos performing the steps on their own. With group K.A.R.D ‘Hola Hola’ has a special significance for their long-term fans – it marked their official debut into the K-Pop scene despite having released prior singles. The song matches their trademark dancehall-meets-house sound that won them 22 million views on their first-ever release in 2016, ‘Oh NaNa.’

K.A.R.D released their debut single ‘Hola Hola’ July 19, 2017. The song marked their official debut into the K-Pop music scene allowing them to promote on live music shows. 

ICKC began in fall 2015, but decided to not start up a choreography project because they had no one to teach it. Former president of the club, senior Paula Merkle, said she has always admired how other fans replicate the choreographies of some of her favorite groups.

“When you watch the dances for certain songs the people make it look so easy, but actually going forward to both learn and teach it is actually pretty difficult,” she said. “So while we all loved that aspect of K-Pop we couldn’t exactly get too hands-on with it from the start. But I’m happy to see the new leaders incorporating it into the club from now on.”

The decision to begin lessons originated from sophomore and secretary Anika Verma. She said she sent out a Google Forms poll asking those interested to vote on which song they’d like to learn first. The vote was close, but ultimately ‘Hola Hola’ was the winner.

“I’ve never taught this type of dance before,” Verma said. “I’ve taught Indian classical dance for almost 13 years now, but this is very different from that. Indian classical dance is very flow-y and focuses more on expresssiona and footwork. This dance is more sharp, precise movements, and not as expression-based.”

Feeling the music

Sophomore Angelee Chen said last year she learned the choreography to the song “Call Me Baby” by boy group EXO for a friend’s senior project.

“When you’re jamming out to K-Pop it’s still fun, but when you dance to it, it’s like you’re feeling the K-Pop,” Chen said.

K-Pop boy group EXO released the song ‘Call Me Baby’ March 30, 2015. EXO is one of the biggest groups in South Korea, this video totaling over 150 million views as of  October 1, 2017.

The practice took up the full hour Verma scheduled in the studio with the small group covering roughly the first 30 seconds of the dance. While teaching the different moves and steps the music was often played at 75% speed in order to slowly go through each move before performing at regular speed.

Verma said another benefit of teaching these dances is the ease with which everyone can practice it on their own. On YouTube a simple search of “Hola Hola KARD dance tutorial” generates over 30,000 results with the first page full of guides. This accessibility makes the process of retaining the dance moves easier than if it was original choreography taught from scratch, Verma said.

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With K-Pop’s large fanbase there are many video tutorials online for ICKC members to reference.

“It’s a genre of music that isn’t generally well-known here,” she said. “Of course now it’s gained more popularity, but in IC K-Pop Club we discuss our favorite groups and play games because there’s not many people on this campus who know what it is. For those who do it’s fun to get together and share our interests.”

For a look into what the day looked like for the members, check out the video below!

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