Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Where to learn K-Pop dance in New York?

During the bloom of K-pop in 2010, I remember certainly having a hard time looking for a place to learn K-pop dances on the internet. K-pop is the term used to refer to Korean pop music. K-pop dances are usually performed by young Korean singers with amazing agility and flexibility. No matter how much I practice, I don’t think I can achieve what these dancers do in such a short amount of time and I’m getting old. 

2NE1 Flash Mob in August 2012 at the Prudential Center, NJ
I am on the left side.
Occasionally, flash mobs and dance teams are formed just to emulate the choreography of the dance. Korean K-pop dance choreography is no joke. Professional choreographers are sought out all over the world to choreograph dances with the right hooks and visuals to make the song stand out. K-pop is serious business where the music and lyrics often revolve around the choreography. I was referring to dance-able music and not Korean ballads, which does not require choreography, but strong emotions.

I have compiled a list of the places that teach K-pop dances in New York. If I find out any other additional places, I will certainly post it here. If you know of any other places, please let me know and I will include it on the list. It doesn’t have to be in New York, though New York is the focus. I won’t intentionally search for other places outside of New York, but I would be happy to include them on the list for other K-pop fans.

New York Korea Festival 2011
SMTown Concert at Madison Square Garden, 2011

#1 – I Love Dance (ILD) – Manhattan and Queens, NY

Certainly, the number one place I recommend to learn K-pop moves  is to go to the I Love Dance studio in Flushing, NY. 

Honestly, it doesn’t get any better than this place where founder MJ Choi and her staff are super dedicated to the art of K-pop. They have classes regularly in Manhattan and in their main studio in Flushing. I Love Dance (ILD) feature monthly K-pop dance classes where students learn the choreography of a featured K-pop song or songs each week over the course of one month. From time to time, I Love Dance recruits dancers to cover a K-pop music video. I Love Dance also organize flash mob activities in the New York/New Jersey area, especially when a K-pop concert is held in the area. Personally, I have participated in the first K-pop flash mob in Times Square in October 2011 and the 2NE1 Flashmob in August 2012. During the month of May, I Love Dance holds their annual student showcase in Manhattan. It doesn’t matter whether you dance well or bad, as long as you have the dedication, you will be accepted into I Love Dance. MJ Choi is a charismatic person.

Classes are taught by either MJ Choi or Joanne. Joanne is my dance teacher at my gym as well, which I will mention more about later on in this post. After the completion of learning a dance, the class dance is usually recorded and uploaded on Youtube. I would encourage everybody to subscribe to their Youtube channel. You’d be amazed at what students can learn in a month.  MJ Choi has an affinity for Korean hip-hop style dances while Joanne has a more expressive, feminine style of dance. I have never taken a class at I Love Dance, but my advice for students would be to be dedicated, don’t give up, and practice! The I Love Dance rates and schedule are on their website or on their Facebook page.

#2 – Bodhi Fitness – Queens, NY

If you’re cash-strapped, I recommend going to Bodhi Fitness in Flushing, NY for your K-pop fix. Joanne, studio manager and instructor of I Love Dance, teaches at Bodhi Fitness. Girls Dance classes are on Mondays at 6:30PM and Hip-Hop classes are on Thursdays at 6:15PM. The Hip-Hop class doesn’t necessarily feature hip-hop songs, but the difficulty level is higher. Classes are 45 minutes long and begin with a warm-up before learning choreography. Honestly, learning two dances at once is already good enough for me. I don’t think I can handle memorizing choreography for more than two dances at once. Even though the classes are shorter, we are dealt with a good amount of choreography each time. I do not recommend skipping a class while learning choreography for a song because afterwards, it is harder for a student to catch up, unless the choreography happens to be easier. To do my best, I usually attend classes, download the actual dance choreography on my phone, study it on my free time, and practice on my own time. Otherwise, I would have to relearn last week’s choreography and commit the current week’s choreography to memory. After learning the entire song, we film our dance cover casually and the video is uploaded to a closed group on Facebook. Seeing a video of myself is great for the memories. There is no pressure to dance well and I’ve seen a lot of people quit the class upon their first try because they probably feel too overwhelmed, especially when they join mid-way through a song.

Classes are included in your membership to the gym. I pay $365 for a yearly membership. That’s $7 a week, $3.50 per class. I also take belly dancing and Zumba with another wonderful instructor so the savings are even more. If not, other prices are 6 months for $270, 3 months for $170, or a monthly membership $50 + $50 initiation fee. Taxes and fees are included plus there is free parking in the basement. If you have health insurance that reimburses you for gym visits, Bodhi Fitness should fit the requirements and essentially defray the costs partially or entirely.

*NEW* Wednesdays, 6:00 PM – 7:30PM (October-December 2013)

One of Joanne’s students, Winnie, is teaching a Kpop class at Bodhi fitness on a limited time basis. I attended her class this week. We stretch for about twenty minutes and then get into the choreography for the rest of the hour. We seemed to learn a lot of choreography in an hour. I assume that this is the amount of choreography a professional dance class would learn in an hour. We started learning 4Minute’s “What’s Your Name?” and that choreography is not too difficult with practice. Now, with the addition of Winnie’s class, there’s a Kpop party at Bodhi, three times a week!

#3 -  Korean Performing Arts Center – Manhattan, NY

After completing the 2013 Summer Korean Traditional Instrument Workshop at the Korean Performing Arts Center, I took a brochure and saw that they offered K-pop beginner dance classes once a week. They are located close to the heart of Koreatown in Manhattan. The schedule on the brochure states Thursdays 7-8PM, but the website schedule in May states that the K-pop class is on Tuesdays. If you are interested in the K-pop class, please contact them at or call them at (212) 921-9344.

I have never taken this class, nor do I have the time right now, but I am curious about it. If anyone has taken this class, please let me know your experience with it.

Besides K-pop, the Korean Performing Arts Center also holds Korean traditional dance classes such as gi-bon (basic movement), Buchae-chum (fan dance), janggo-chum (hourglass drum dance), sogo-chum (small handheld drum dance), ip-chum (improvisational dance), heung-chum (joyful dance), geom.-mu (sword dance), salpuri-chum (shaman ceremonial dance), samgo-mu (three-sided standing drum dance), Seoung-mu (buddhist monk’s dance), halryang-mu (male dance), and Poongmul-nori (farmer’s dance). It’s best to contact the organization for further details as these are specialty dances.

#4 - Bounce New York - Queens and Manhattan, NY

Bounce New York is a relatively new dance studio that officially started on August 15th, 2013 in Flushing, NY. Headed by Director and Choreographer, Victoria Kang, Bounce New York offers at least two different K-pop classes and organizes choreographed flash mobs in support of K-pop. So far, they have performed two different flash mobs: TVXQ and Crayon Pop. As part of their grand opening promotion, they have offered $1 or even free classes and workshops so classes could be initially affordable.

Bounce New York is taught by three teachers: Victoria, Keke, and Akane. I will try to highlight some of their accomplishments. You can see more of their accomplishments on the Bounce Facebook page.

Victoria has 15 years of dance experience in South Korea and China. Impressively, she was a dancer for Baek Ji Young (1-4th album), WAX (1-3rd album), and Lee Hyori’s “Diva,” “Sugar,” and “Bubble Sisters.” She also danced with actors Jang Nara and Jeon Ji Hyun. Victoria also danced in the KBS Gag Concert.

Keke’s danced for a Hong Kong singer, Hacken Lee’s concert in Connecticut.  That’s cool enough for me already!

Akane  danced in the Kat Deluna’s “Drop It Low” music video, “Now or Never” music video, and T-RAD’s “Rumors MV.”

The studio in Queens, NY offers the following weekday classes: 9:00-9:50AM Morning Yoga, 10:00-11:00AM Diet Sassy by Victoria, 4:00-5:00PM Hip-Hop by Keke, 6:30-7:30PM K-Pop by Akane, 8:00-9:00PM K-Pop by Victoria. For those who want a trial, there is a one free bounce class trial on their Facebook website. They also held some free workshops in the past.

Recently, Bounce Studio and Annyeong Korea started special K-pop classes in Manhattan. Please check the Bounce Facebook page or the Annyeong Korea website for more details. Classes are located at: EMPIRE FITNESS Advantage Studios, 38 W 32nd St, RM 404, Studio 1

I have never attended a Bounce class, but it sounds fun already. Dancers should leave their camera shyness at the door as it seems that they may be captured on video for their Facebook page.

Me, performing a solo performance of "I Got A Boy" by Girls' Generation at the 2013 ALESN talent show
These are the places that I know of where you can learn K-pop in New York. If these options are not possible for you, Youtube is always available with a mirrored dance video version of almost every popular K-pop song. Happy dancing!