In any girl group promotional cycle, the dance is probably one of the more important factors. Aside from being a key visual point in the music video and live performances, they also serve as fun things to imitate or parody for K-pop lovers. And finally, who can forget the myriad discussion topics that come out of the dances (Singer showcases honey thighs in “leg dance”/ Group showcases small faces/waists in latest dance), creating yet another silly unobtainable ideal body image for women to envy.
With that, it’s worth taking a look at some of the dances and the body parts they focus on, and how they have changed over the years.
Isn’t it amazing what hands can do? Or to be more precise, what they can say about the song in the most literal way. From emphasising the main phonetic sound in the song (drawing out the “G” in “Gee”)
To dipping fingers into imaginary honey pots. (KARA’s “Honey”)
And imitating animals to a seemingly never ending hook (T-ara’s “Bo Peep Bo Peep”)
And there are instances where the literal meaning is a fair bit more hidden. A good example would have to be Sistar’s “Alone”, where the girls raise their legs and let their fingers walk across their thighs, when they start singing the chorus about being all alone.
Of course, not all dance moves involving the hands are that literal. Some of them come across as clever co-incidence. A good example would be f(x), where when Victoria sings a sentence in the song that ends with a question, and she moves her hand to emphasise the perfectly perplexed expression on her face.
Another example of hand movements that do not really correlate with the song lyrics, but which instead give the song a touch of whimsical or cheery, would be by the Wonder Girls. See “Tell Me” (where they just point their hands to the sky) or “Be My Baby” (moving their hands in circular motions).
Then again, the signature move in “Nobody” was probably about as literal as it got.
And who could forget SNSD-TTS’s dainty hand movements for “Twinkle”? Now that was definitely a touch of gentle in a showcase of strong singing.
However, a dance move consisting solely of upper body movements could never hope to enthrall audiences for a full song, which is where…
The most well known of this would have to be the leg flicks seen in SNSD’s Genie, which also helped to make long and slender legs a focal point in dance.
However, bolder leg choreography could be seen in their debut single, “Into The New World”, where a high kick facing the audience became the main point of the song. Talk about entering the scene alive and kicking.
T-ara also gets a mention here for leg based choreography, by putting the shuffle into “Lovey Dovey”, and turning it into one of those year end trends that become so overdone by the end of it. I mean, “Good Day” a shuffle song? Come on!
By far less imitated would be miss A’s putting their legs in the air (literally) for “Good Girl Bad Girl”. This is an instance of choreography being fun to watch, yet at the same time not overtly sexual, and being able to prove a point (that miss A were capable girl group dancers.)
Recently though, leg based choreography seems to be relegated to leg flicks and strutting around the stage,
having been usurped by…
As the new focal point of more dances. Actually, hip movements have always been a part of any girl group choreography, as shown by the many variations of this move.
Granted, there have been minor differences, but the basic premise have always been the same. Bend forward and spin one’s hips in a circle, like one is playing with an imaginary hula hoop. Or a shaking move, like one is moving to the music.
These days though, the moves have definitely been hyped up, with the gyrations getting a fair bit more “aggressive” and involving a fair amount of thrusting.
Another popular variation seen these days would be the split one’s legs, and perform a slight thrusting motion forward facing the camera. While it used to be considered a controversial move (see 4Minute and Rania), these days it’s done so often it no longer raises any eyebrows.
While these moves can be viewed or interpreted as a group trying to add some sexy/mature/power (or whatever euphemism is said these days), one cannot help if the move toward these moves are just a part of trying to appeal more to what men enjoy looking at, thematically suitable or otherwise.
And that’s not even mentioning the miscellaneous…
Butt and Chest Moves
Although the butt dance first began with KARA’s “Mister”, with hindsight, excepting some of the camera angles chosen for broadcast, the rest of the dance did not appear overtly sexy, and was fun to imitate on some occasions.
Fast forward a few years later, and butt based choreography has definitely taken on a less-subtle stance with a fair few more sexual overtones (left).
The same could also be argued of chest moves. What originally started out by girl group dancers as popping moves, for some odd reason eventually branched out into that chest trusting/sexy shimmering hybrid, euphemistically called a body wave.
Moving along the years, though various concepts, it has become rather obvious that girl group dances have begun to take on increasingly sexier and bolder moves (no pun intended). While the reasons for doing so are plenty (a need to stand out from crowds, fans demanding more of their idols over the years, and idols obliging, as well as general public demands for mature concepts and artistic development), there are arguments that the sexy dance is usually window dressing.
Standing out from other groups: Granted, if said act was new, then the boldest dance that could be done might be a great attention giver. However, over the years, it would be a given acts gain popularity from songs or other aspects of the group, rather then provocative stage moves.
Idols doing fan service: This might be a bit hard to make a case for or against. While I also admit to enjoy some hot moves by acts, especially if it’s by groups that one least expects them from, like KARA, one also wonders how many of such fans join in not so much for a love of music, but for seeing something rather sexual and not getting caught out for.
Concepts getting mature with artistic development: While trying something new after a few years in the business is nothing new and perfectly acceptable, at times, just slapping on some new moves on top of songs that sound different in parts from old material, or pairing sexy moves with songs that completely do not need them (think Sistar’s “Loving You”) does not a reinvention make.
Another effect of dances getting uncomfortably sexually charged is how it takes away from the idols. Okay, it’s true that most of them do have good figures, and the belief that “if you have it, flaunt it” might hold, but really, that cannot be the only thing they can do well. A good example would be Secret’s Hyosung, who probably gets recognised far more for her good figure, and hence plays it up in almost every music video, never mind that it’s not her sole asset.
So Seoulmates, what are your takes on girl group dances over the years, and the increasing levels of sexy in the last few concepts?