Double Standard: Dancing in Kpop
Both sides of the spectrum have their standout groups, groups that manage to find the fine line between a dancer’s litheness and the almost military precision it takes to adapt the body to structured chreography. The most notable on the men’s side are DBSK, INFINITE, and MBLAQ [MV]. For the women we have 4Minute, F(x) [MV], and SNSD. What separates these groups from the rest is the manner in which they hold the choreography, almost allowing it to become a part of their natural movement. However, even among the best, the distinction between male and female choreography is striking.
There is a lengthy history of group vs. group dance battles with the most hard-hitting groups in Kpop. Here I attempt to dissect the choreography as well as the movement and concentrate on the overall dynamic of the dancers’ bodies and the way they manage to make the movement more than just a way to grab attention. For example:
4Minute vs. After School:
4Minute performed first, showcasing choreography that was more technical in the first half of their performance. The precision of each hit on the beats was crisp, the choreography itself was more intricate and reliant on the dancers finding the beat and finishing the moves with sharp accuracy. The second half of their performance, however, was geared towards entertaining the crowd more with the girls’ supposed sensuality. Instead, the dancing was lackluster, lacking in precision, timing, and any real sense of synchronicity.
On the other hand, After School’s entire performance was predicated on the idea of highlighting the sex appeal of the group. There was very little “dancing”, as such, and more posing, swaying, and attracting the audience with each dancer’s lines as opposed to their actual dance ability. The end result was that After School won this dance battle — based mostly on the reaction from the audience and the group’s overall connectedness throughout; however, any actual semblance of technical skill was far outshone by the group’s ability to make the audience focus on their sexuality.
Meanwhile, when the boys battle the result therein always comes down to the sharpness of the movement and the intricacy of the choreography. For instance:
INFINITE vs. Teen Top:
INFINITE came out first, showing how sharp and intricate their choreography was, but also their ability to understand the beat of the music and allow their inherent sense of rhythm to command that choreography. Their routine was measured to the very nano-beat, the spaces between were never left hanging or unfilled, and yet they managed to use the air between notes of the music to their advantage, using their charisma while still maintaining an air of technical dominance. Their dancing was strong, crisp. Each movement was finished with pinpoint accuracy and never left dangling. The precision in their popping and tutting was never lackluster or sloppy — again, finishing each movement with a sharp cut.
Teen Top, on the other hand, used their youth and enthusiasm to entertain the crowd; however, their choreography lacked in anything notable. While they were also fully committed to each move, their lack of precise choreography deterred from whatever skill they may have had. It was a routine whose choreography focused on highlighting their adorableness as opposed to their actual skill.
Though INFINITE’s routine was more powerful in comparison, the fact remains that both groups were given routines that were more focused on dance (whether it be simpler movement in lieu of technical mastery), while the females were more reliant on an audience that was craving their abilities as sex symbols, assuming roles and using routines that were more geared towards highlighting their sexiness — at times proving to be more awkward than sexy, but certainly lacking in any real dance substance.