Haven’t you noticed that with all this Hallyu wave stuff, the amount of people doing K-pop covers keeps increasing? And not only that, but the level is also getting higher, so much so that there are officially formed groups that manage to compete in international competitions, some even in Korea itself. However, what we see whether on social networks or when attending an official event, is the final product; behind every choreography, name, movement, and even song choice, everything has a process that we ignore.
Haneul Ssem had the opportunity to interview two girls who are part of Stage Kpop Academy, a dance academy focused on K-pop. Sofía and Marjorie started as assistants in the basic classes, until their potential spoke for them and now they are part of groups that officially participate in competitions.
Taken from https://kpopacademystage.com/
Sara: Good afternoon, my name is Sara Varon and I am part of Haneul Ssem. Today I come intending to ask some questions to know a little more about what it is to be part of Stage. Let’s start with a personal introduction and the group to which you belong.
Sofía: My name is Sofía, since 2019 I have been part of a Stage competition group called Starlight, this was the second to be formed since the academy’s inception. In the group, we do not manage a leader or anything, but I am in charge of transmitting the messages of the teachers to my colleagues, it should be clarified that we are all part of that leadership, it is not attributed to a single person.
Marjorie: My name is Marjorie, I have been a member of On-x for two months. I love anything that has to do with arts.
Sara: Why did you choose this genre and not something like classical dance?
Sofía: From a very young age I was in dance academies, and I was able to explore several styles, moreover, within Stage, I participate in the “technique on Stage” class, where I learn dancehall, and contemporary dance, among others. Regardless of the genre, it was because at that moment the doors opened for me to be a member of the group.
Marjorie: I wanted to be part of a group that had more to do with urban dance or hip-hop things, but what strikes me about K-pop is that it has its formations, there are many things around choreographies because although it is a musical genre with many stereotypes, it has many good things; for example, you learn to be more punctual and disciplined.
Sara: What is the song selection process like?
Sofía: Our rule for choosing the song starts from whether it is a feminine or masculine one. From what we decide between all of us, we move on to the type of choreography, whether it is sexy, stronger, or soft. Once we have ideas, we vote until it is a 100% agreed upon by everyone. We don’t focus on how famous the song is or if it is by a successful group unless the competition requires it to be by a specific artist.
When we have the song, we divide the centers and each one chooses the member they want to represent, we rehearse Saturdays, Sundays, and sometimes Fridays. Then from home, we learn our part and once we get together, we polish details and make planimetries.
Marjorie: For the selection of the song is not so much by the subject of its popularity, but by our tastes. From there we start voting for the songs we nominated until there is one left. For the rehearsals, each one learns the steps and here at Stage, we are corrected. For now, we rehearse two days a week for three hours.
Sara: Once you have all the choreography set up, do you just do it like the original or do you try to give it your own style?
Sofía: In general, we try to show in the choreographies what we also learn in the classes and each one has its own style; in fact, that’s what characterizes Stage, here it’s not just about doing covers, because they apply more technique to what the dance already has.
Marjorie: We have to give it our own style, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense.
Sara: Now, moving on to the part of being a member of a group, are there any auditions? Is it on merit? How does it work?
Sofía: In the case of Starlight, the group was already made up of certain members, however, auditions were held until we were the ones that currently formed it. Sometimes they seek to add members to groups that are already formed, but in those circumstances, it is because they see in someone a technique, style, or strength that would contribute to a certain group. Basically, once the groups are configured, no more members are added, unless the teachers see it necessary. It is not instantaneous that he/she starts performing with the whole group, it is necessary to wait for him/her to adapt a little more, and depending on that, he/she may or may not take part in the competitions.
Marjorie: According to what I understand, you must first be part of a class called “preparation for competition group”, what’s more, I was part of it and I think that’s why I was selected to be a member of On-X. I want to add that when I joined the group, they had already been there for a few months, but they needed a new member and the teachers noticed my abilities in that class.
Sara: Do you consider this more of a hobby, or would you like to do it as a professional in the future?
Sofía: When I grow up, I guess I will have to leave the academy because I would like to study abroad, however, I would like to be involved in dance, it is what I have always wanted. Not leaving it alone as a hobby because I feel I have the talent to take it further.
Marjorie: I have thought about it and yes, it is within my life plans that I can dedicate myself to this as a professional.
Sara: What does your family think about you being part of this group?
Sofía: From a very young age they have supported me with this, they have always told me that I have the talent and therefore I should exploit it. I’ve never had a problem going to competitions.
Marjorie: They see it more as a hobby, they think it’s something temporary and sometimes it bothers them.
Sara: What do you think has changed in you since you started in this group?
Sofía: I used to be shier, but thanks to the group I have learned to socialize and not stay in a bubble.
Marjorie: It has made me a much more sociable person, before I didn’t even dare to leave my house. I’m still very shy, but there are many people here who help you with that.
Sara: What do you bring to the group?
Sofía: The issue of leading responsibility, also moral support and making us always remain humble because at the end of the day we don’t know everything, and we still have to learn a lot of things.
Marjorie: To be honest, I’m not sure yet, but I’m willing to find out as I grow with On-x.
Sara: What is the most difficult thing about belonging to the group?
Sofía: I have social anxiety, so it’s a challenge to be on a stage with so many people watching you, thinking that you’re going to be wrong. The other thing is about decisions, sometimes it is difficult for us all to agree, not impossible, but it is a challenge.
Marjorie: The most complicated thing has been that my family doesn’t support me at all, also that I have many mental blocks and when I see the level of other dancers, I question whether I can go further or not.
Sara: Do you think there is a lot of competition in K-pop covers?
Sofía: Yes, I think there is a lot of competition and not only here in Bogotá, but also in many cities in the country. There are many spectators, but there are more who participate.
Marjorie: I think there is a little bit of everything, people who do it as amateurs and others who decide for more technical training in academies.
Sara: How do you see yourself in 5 years?
Sofía: I would like to continue with dance, practicing it as a professional.
Marjorie: I can’t see my life without dance being a part of it, I would love to study something related to this in college. In addition, I hope I can continue on Stage and even be a teacher.
Sara: Finally, do you have anything to add for all those who read this blog?
Sofía: Our world is very undervalued, so I would like to invite you to be a little more open-minded and get to know about our work, what we do and what is the whole process of being on stage.
Marjorie: If you want to do something, and you have the desire, there is no reason to stop doing it.
We invite you to follow Sofia (@_soph.m__), Marjorie (@marsofi_gomez) and Stage Dance Academy (@stagekpopacademy) to get a closer look at what they do.
Written by: Sara Varon
Reviewed by: Laura Herrera