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10 Most Influential Contemporary Kpop Choreography

Updated on March 12, 2015

Kpop does not run out of cool dances but most of them are starting to look and feel the same. After all, most of them are geared towards popularity rather than art. Hence, the primary objective is to create dance steps that many people can do.

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However, once in a while, a choreography comes up with something new, unique and downright bad@$$ that it influences Kpop dance trends. Before I present the greatest choreography of recent times, here are several popular dance styles used in hiphop that I will constantly refer to in this article:

  1. Tutting - isolated use of hand movements
  2. Popping - twitches and jerks that goes with the beat, it also manipulates body movements and motions such as robotics or animatronics
  3. Locking - pauses or freezes
  4. Breaking - used to be popularly called break dancing or acrobatics
  5. Floating - gives the impression that there is little or no contact between the dancer's feet or body and the floor, it feels like the dancer is flowing
  6. Robotics - isolation of different parts of the body to give the illusion that the body is like, well, a robot. It is actually under Popping but it is growing so big now that some hiphop dancers consider it a category all on its own
  7. Liquid - it is like pantomime. The body moves like it has no bones. Those sexy slow song choreography usually use luquid and floating
  8. Electric Boogaloo - it is more common than you think. It involves the twitching and rolling of legs and arms. It's very much connected if not one with "funk"

Here are 10 choreography that did just that.

10 - Shinhwa's This Love

After 16 years, Shinhwa is still rockin' it and This Love proved why they are still around.

Shinhwa has the habit of going against the trend. When everyone was cute, they went manly. When everyone was growing their hair short, they went for the clean cut. Not that everyone is going for complicated choreography, they decided to go for the classic feel and androgynous too.

How did Shinhwa manage to last together this long and forge such as strong friendship? Click here.

The first to use the concept in Kpop, Shinhwa's This Love used the glamorous world of modeling as a base for their choreography. Using snaps and jerks, they are the first to create an androgynous feel in choreography.

Best Parts of the Choreography

  1. As screencapped above, when they form a reverse V, spread their legs and jerk their legs while swagging their shoulders. It's their modern electric boogaloo
  2. When they gather in the middle and then break out into different super model poses.
  3. When the boys are standing and they sway their hand as if controlling the back up dancers that are all sitting on the floor.

#9 History - What Am I To You

Probably the only Kpop dance that successfully fused Latin/ballroom dance with hiphop.

There is nothing complicated about the choreography. In fact, it is slow enough for anyone to follow. The steps are easy enough that you don't need to be hardcore hiphop dancer to get it but it is how the choreography successfully mixed hip hop steps with Latin/ballroom moves that created a really unique feel.

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This is bound to be the template that future choreography that aims to fuse different genres into one would follow.

Best Parts of the Choreography:

  1. Their opening chaha and salsa
  2. The mirror dance of the two boys after their synchronized opening
  3. The fusion of Electric Boogaloo and Chaha when they come together in the middle

#8 GOT7 - I Like You

Not everyone can pull off the cutie, goody, laid back choreography. Not everyone is willing to do it either. After all, Kpop is now being dominated by stunts and complicated movements. In Kpop's quest to be more recognized around the globe, efforts are being poured to having that certain "swag" common to Westerners.

Got7's I Like You is a rebellion is a rebellion in that respect. They break out into this little quick snaps and poses reminiscent of child's innocence.

It's also very, err, Kpop. Not everyone realizes that the origins of Kpop really goes back to the soft and cute images that children are attracted to.

I Like You, however, added the precision and "force" that is more common to hiphop.

#7 BTS - Danger

BTS personally admitted that this has been their "hardest" and most tiring dance to date. They are constantly on the move and their movements are very forceful.

I don't consider this to be their best work or best choreography but I do recognize what they mean when they say this has been the hardest they have danced. There are more jerks, more transitions and more snaps. They do do repetitive steps and they require so much force when they stomp their feet and throw their hands.

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They pushed the bar higher, as they have repetitively done, when it comes to hiphop dancing with this choreography.

Best Parts of the Choreography:

  1. There is barely any repetitive steps
  2. Quick transitions from pops to locks to liquids and digits
  3. The glamorous pose they converted into a dance step in the chorus where they touch their neck and then pop
  4. The sheer quick transitions between dance steps

#6 B2ST – Good Luck

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Unfailing flow. That's what this choreography brings and the boys of B2ST bring it justice. They perfectly synchronized and perfectly able to execute the dance steps.

I am convinced this is their best choreography to date.

Best Parts of the Choreography:

  1. The hip jerk in the chorus.
  2. The float in the repeat of the chorus using their hands equalize their move as they jump creating the illusion that they are floating.
  3. Their unique version of cat daddy fused with the dougie.



#5 EXO - Mama

I always regard this as the dance equivalent of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. It has that classic but contemporary feel. It is the first time I have seen a choreography that fuses floating with jazz. And it's a real pleasure to watch.

They way they move their hands around while they slowly isolate their body movement and then flow to the next dance steps that would use even more floating and isolation created that unique blend that I last felt when I heard Bohemian Rhapsody. It's opera with hiphop. You don't get any more unique than that.

Best Parts of the Choreography:

  1. The opening where they move their hands around as if to start off with jazz for an interpretative dance. They then quickly proceed to pop and lock.
  2. When they go on a full synchronized for the first time where they used isolations/robotics against a very classic sounding music.



#4 Shinee - Lucifer

This is one of them dances that you can't do unless you've trained in hiphop or practiced for months. Almost all the elements of hiphop dances have been combined into one dance in such quick transitions and almost no repetitions that it's just suicidal to follow it unless you are at least a long-time dancer.

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Tutting will never be the same in Korean Hiphop ever again and floating has just been elevated to a new level.

Best Parts of the Choreography:

  1. Tutting when Taemin first went to the middle in the early part of the song.
  2. The now famous and classic "electric shock move" which is actually called popping in hiphop but because Shinee isolated the step, it gave it more emphasis.
  3. Their own version of Cat Daddy that came several dance steps after their tutting.
  4. Their modernized Elvis Presley move which is when they sway their hips.

p.s.

Somebody tell Taemin not to wear fine stripes when going on camera. His shirt hurt my eyes.

#3 TVXQ - Keep Your Head Down

I doubted. I will have to admit that when SM announced that Changmin and Yunho will continue on as a duo, I couldn't imagine how the two of them could own the stage especially with the kind of "fabulous" stage designs SM is known for.

Then, they came out with Keep Your Head Down and it was as if someone slapped me with an answer.

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The two proved that it is never about the quantity of the members but in the quality of the members.

Keep Your Head Down did the following:

  1. Showed how isolation of a members could allow him to rise higher and brighter
  2. Showed how one member can execute dance move and have it picked up by the other member can truly tell a story
  3. Demonstrated how difficult dance moves can look so easy because I've seen professional dancers copy that choreography and fail miserably

Best Parts of the Choreography

  1. Yunho's opening solo that goes from pops to tuts to locks
  2. The first transition where you almost don't see Changmin coming
  3. Changmin's footwork in his opening solo
  4. Yunho's cripwalk when he goes to the front and its succeeding V formation with him in the middle and just swag it out with isolated leg pumps

P.S.

Special shout out to Yunho's "dirty finger" in the opening visible in the MV dance version below. Blink and you'll miss it.

#2 BTS – We Are Bulletproof

Before Bangtam Boys, 2PM was hailed as the king of the hiphop dance floor because they did breaking and when Jay Park was still in the group, everyone was aware that he was really into hiphop battles when he was still in the U.S.

Then Bangtam Boys came in and redefined what hiphop is in the Kpop context. This is as legit as you could become. Their three main dancers didn't just go into formal dance academy but also worked on their street cred by doing battles.

Their first single, We Are Bulletproof, showed a different level of hiphop dancing in Korea. They were doing hiphop and not just pop dancing. Their three main dancers, Jungkook, Jimin and JHope also did breaking. Watch them and all the other boybands will look whack to your eyes. Nothing comes close to the precision, complexity and force that Bangtam Boys showed in their first single.

Best Parts of the Choreography:

  1. The showcase of the three main dancers using different hiphop dance moves like tutting, breaking, popping, locking, robotics and others.
  2. The cocking of the gun dance moves and the firing of it
  3. The different cripwalks
  4. The different hip thrusts
  5. The feet stomps
  6. The sheer swag whenever they spread their biceps

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#1 DBSK - Purple Line

I know people are going to question this. After all, compared to We are Bulletproof and Shinee, Purple Line's choreography isn't so complicated. However, remember that this was released seven years ago, right before the trend of hiring African American hiphop choreographers. Purple Line was the dance that kickstarted the "complicated" and "intense" choreography. It may look simple now but it was groundbreaking then.

Purple Line did the following first:

  • paved the way for all the complicated choreography we see today in Kpop.
  • use several dance steps in one beat
  • shift back and forth to slow and fast dance steps

Best Parts of the Choreography:

  1. The opening where they quickly shift between pops and floats
  2. The hip thrust in the opening
  3. The snippet of the moonwalk, beat it move, MJ toe pose, and tutting

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